New Congress and Administration Get Started
Election Impact: The January run-off elections in Georgia flipped control of the U.S. Senate to Democratic control, propelling Senator Chuck Schumer to Majority Leader and casting Vice President Harris as the vote that will likely break many ties in the next two years. This unlikely result means Democrats control the House, Senate and Executive Branch, with Joe Biden being sworn into the Presidency on January 20th. Razor thin margins in both the House and Senate spells difficulty for progressive policies like Medicare for All, creation of a public insurance option, and even lowering the Medicare age to 60 years old. Bipartisanship will be at a premium, but with a budget process known as “reconciliation,” which requires only 51 votes in the Senate to pass certain legislation, there is still a lot of opportunity to achieve O&P objectives. And the Biden Administration is showing signs of being very active on health policy, which does not require Congress’ approval.
O&P Legislation: With all of the key House and Senate champions of the Medicare O&P Patient-Centered Care Act returning to Congress, quick reintroduction is expected in the coming months. The bill would separate DME from O&P, reform the definition of off-the-shelf (OTS) orthotics, exempt licensed and certified orthotists and prosthetists from competitive bidding, and ban drop shipping of custom O&P to patients’ homes. The bill will continue to compete with COVID-19 relief legislation which will take most of the oxygen out of the Congressional agenda, but legislative vehicles on which to attach this bill will be available later this year and next. In addition, the “Triple A” Study Act, which would dramatically improve the data the profession has on O&P prevalence, use, and insurance coverage, is also expected to be introduced in the coming months. NAAOP supports both of these bills and urges our members to request their Members of Congress to become cosponsors of the bills.
DMEPOS Proposed Rule: In the closing days of the Trump Administration, CMS collected comments on its CY 2021 Proposed Rule on Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies, but did not have time to issue a final rule. There were several important proposals in this year’s rule—which is currently on hold until the Biden Administration decides how it wants to proceed. Of particular note in the proposed rule are the improvements to the HCPCS coding and pricing processes, including the way CMS determines the benefit category of new technologies. NAAOP will be closely monitoring this rule and will report new developments to the NAAOP membership.
Veterans Administration Final Rule on Prosthetics: In late December, the VA finally issued its final rule on prosthetics, clarifying that veterans do, in fact, have a role in deciding which practitioner will be able to provide their care. But the final rule still grants the VA authority to make this determination. Since NAAOP spearheaded the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights, NAAOP has made veteran choice of practitioner a top priority. For this reason, NAAOP will continue to closely monitor this situation and will intervene further if necessary.
Sexual Harassment: Maggie Baumer, J.D., President-Elect of NAAOP, has been chairing an O&P Alliance Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment. Look for the NAAOP video coming soon that will feature Maggie as she reports on the status of this important initiative and seeks further engagement in this issue across the O&P profession.