Four Organizations Representing the Field of Orthotics and Prosthetics Announce Formation of Government Relations Alliance

NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Peter W. Thomas, Esq.

Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, P.C.

Phone: 202-872-6730
Fax: 202-785-1756
Email: Peter.Thomas@ppsv.com

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2006–The American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC), the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists (AAOP), the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) and the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) today announce the formation of a new alliance which will bring the four organizations together for the purpose of working on federal and state government affairs.

The Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance, as the new coalition will be known, marks a new era in both cooperation and coordination among ABC, the Academy, AOPA and NAAOP. Together the four organizations represent a large segment of the orthotics and prosthetics profession. The unified effort on legislative and regulatory issues will lead to less duplication in activity among the four groups. All have an interest in programs, policies, rules and regulations coming from Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and state legislatures.

Working with one Washington, D.C., law firm and relying on the combined staff and volunteer leadership of the entire coalition, the Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance brings a more focused approach to tackling the governmental issues that pose a concern both for professionals and businesses throughout the orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) community as well as for O&P patients. The four partners in the Alliance expect to achieve better results in getting the O&P message heard by federal and state lawmakers and in educating CMS officials about the needs and unique qualifications of O&P professionals.

While coming together for the purposes of the Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance, ABC, the Academy, AOPA and NAAOP have all agreed to stay true to their respective missions and advance their own agendas in areas not related to the consensus goals of the larger group.

NAAOP President Mark DeHarde states, “I am very pleased about the breakthrough commitment to unity by the Academy, ABC, AOPA and NAAOP. The new Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance will bring all professional stakeholders to the table to work in the best interests of our patients who rely on comprehensive O&P care to realize their fullest potential. We must learn to speak with one voice to assure their future.”

Academy President Paul Prusakowski, CPO, FAAOP, says his organization is “very excited about joining with our sister organizations in the O&P field in this new government relations venture. The Academy believes that by working together we can do more for the field than by working on our own.
Though our organizations have a number of different missions, the one we have in common is making sure that the O&P field and the professionals that work in it are respected and appreciated for their unique ability to serve the public and make people’s lives better.”

The Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance’s lobbyist is long-time Washington attorney and O&P advocate Peter W. Thomas in the firm of Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C. Thomas has been the general counsel for NAAOP and will continue in that capacity in addition to the work he will do on behalf of the Alliance. Thomas’ firm is also the administrator for the Alliance.

Thomas says, “Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville and I are honored to serve as lead counsel for the new Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance. With serious policy threats looming, it is more important than ever to work collaboratively on a consensus agenda in Washington, D.C. This Alliance is long overdue and creates an historic opportunity to meet the needs of O&P patients and the providers who serve them.”

The Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance is the result of several months of discussion by the leadership of the respective organizations. Its genesis occurred as all four organizations came to realize that there would be better progress on government affairs if the various groups put aside historical differences and worked together toward common goals.

AOPA President Walter Racette, CPO, comments “Although some might have thought the idea of a coalition improbable, once in a room together, everyone realized that what could be done for the good of the profession far surpassed any individual organization’s effort. I believe the formation of the Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance is the beginning of a new era of cooperation that will help focus the resources, vision and effort needed in the coming years to improve patient care, encourage development of new technology and advance our profession.”

ABC President Jeff Yakovich, CO, is similarly upbeat in his assessment:
“Formally bringing O&P’s four leading groups together for the purpose of cooperation in government relations efforts is in the best interests of the profession and our patients. With facility accreditation being the central requirement for Medicare’s new qualified supplier guidelines, ABC is pleased to actively participate with our sister organizations in crafting a unified message to our lawmakers and Medicare decision makers. We are proud of the unity being shown in our profession today.”

The first formal meeting of the Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance steering committee will take place at the Academy’s Annual Meeting in Chicago on March 3; however, a strategic planning process for developing the Alliance’s legislative and regulatory objectives is already underway.

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The American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC) is the nation’s leading orthotic and prosthetic certification and accreditation organization. Established in 1948, ABC sets objective standards for over 11,000 individuals and organizations providing orthotic and prosthetic patient care.

The American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists (AAOP) is the organization representing the professionals in O&P. Its mission is to ensure that practitioners’ concerns are represented within the field and to the public, and to provide the continuing education that they need to serve their patients at the highest level. The Academy works to enhance the visibility of the entire field and to ensure that all publics understand the unique role that this allied health profession plays in serving its patients..

The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) is a national trade association representing patient care facilities, distributors and manufacturers in the O&P industry. With over 1,950 members, AOPA is an advocate at all levels of government on behalf of the O&P field. The organization serves as the leading provider of business management information and guidance on coding and reimbursement issues.

The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics
(NAAOP) is a strong government relations advocate for all those participating in comprehensive O&P patient care. NAAOP champions causes concerning patient access, funding, advanced technology and outcomes through leadership in national and state policy formation. NAAOP was established in
1987 to help create a federal research and development program in orthotics and prosthetics and since then NAAOP has expanded its government relations agenda to address national health care reform, Medicare and Medicaid reform, managed care standards and Veterans Administration issues.

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