Three New Developments Impacting the Orthotic & Prosthetic Community Occurred on February 9th.
We're Keeping You Informed Thanks to NAAOP.
1. Rehabilitation Research Bill Advances in Senate Committee
On February 9th, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported favorably on a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Kirk (R-IL) and Bennet (D-CO) to advance rehabilitation research, including O&P research and development, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The bill would enhance coordination and improve the stature and visibility of this research at NIH's 27 Institutes and Centers, particularly in the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). NCMRR's mission includes O&P research and development. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. A companion House bill has already been introduced by Congressman Langevin (D-RI) and Congressman Harper (R-MS)
2. DC Appeals Court Ruling Offers Hope to Providers on ALJ Backlog:
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important opinion in the American Hospital Association's administrative law judge (ALJ) delay lawsuit. The D.C. Circuit reversed the district court's decision and determined that the court has jurisdiction over this case because HHS has a clear duty to issue ALJ decisions in 90 days, and "escalation" to the next level of administrative review is not an adequate remedy for HHS's failure to issue ALJ decisions in a timely manner.
The court remanded the case to the district court for it to consider whether to compel HHS to comply with the deadline in light of the worsening ALJ backlog. The decision gives some hope to Medicare providers, including O&P practices, that the intolerable delay in ALJ appeals will begin to be resolved, but the court did not yet actually step in and solve the problem. A decision by the district court is expected late this year.
3. President's Budget Proposes to Expand Competitive Bidding to ALL O&P Care:
For the first time, the President's budget for FY 2017, released yesterday, proposes to expand DMEPOS competitive bidding to include ALL PROSTHETICS AND ORTHOTICS, in addition to a number of other types of DMEPOS.
Competitive bidding for anything more than off-the-shelf orthotics is currently illegal, so Congress would have to pass a law authorizing CMS to expand it to all O&P care. In this calendar year, there is no chance this proposal will become law absent titanic developments in Congress, which are not expected.