Reflections on 30 Years of O&P Advocacy

2017 marks NAAOP’s 30th Anniversary of advocacy on behalf of the O&P patient and the professionals who serve them.  We wanted to take some time to reflect on this milestone.

But first, Medicare developments continue to occur.  CMS recently announced the selection of the Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) for the next several years.  The current hiatus in RAC auditing will soon end as a result, unless one of the companies not awarded a contract files a protest, which would further delay implementation of the RAC program.  When the RACs begin their work, there will be one national RAC for all claims involving DMEPOS, durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.  NAAOP will continue to keep you informed.

November is a month for giving thanks, and we at NAAOP wish to express our profound gratitude to the leaders and members who have made our work possible for these many years.  For those who may not know, NAAOP was launched in 1987 as the American State of the Art Prosthetic Association.  It was the brainchild of the late George DePontis, a real innovator who recognized the appeal of amputees performing challenging athletics.  He published National’s Magazine, the official magazine of the National Handicapped Ski Championships at the time.  DePontis asked his good friend George Breece to help set up and run the organization for one year and George has been helping lead NAAOP ever since.  We owe George a huge debt of gratitude for his dedication and personal commitment over the past three decades. NAAOP has also been extremely fortunate over these many years to have Peter Thomas play such a significant role in formulating NAAOP’s public policy and becoming a leading voice for O&P issues on Capitol Hill. Peter was, in fact, the very first Consumer Vice President of our Association thirty years ago and continues today as the NAAOP General Counsel.

NAAOP would not have formed without pioneers such as John Sabolich, Glenn Hutnick, Alan Finnieston, Brad Rosenquist, Harold Sears, and Tom Guth.  In fact, Tom Guth is the organization’s longest serving board member and continues to help lead the organization today.

Some of NAAOP’s finest leaders and past presidents were critical to NAAOP’s success including John Billock, Mike Allen, Dennis Cole, Lou Haberman, Mark DeHarde, Jan Stokosa, Paul Prusakowski, and our current President, Dave McGill.  We simply could not have thrived without these individuals’ commitment of time, treasure, energy, and intellect.

Many of our long-standing members went above and beyond when we confronted major challenges, often contributing more than their membership dues required.  Even non-members rose to the occasion by offering significant funding when we needed it most.  The Board of Certification, International, was one such organization.  For instance, when the draft LCD debacle of 2015 occurred, BOC stepped up to contribute for the good of the profession, adding to its previous contributions.  The American Board for Certification (ABC) also contributed mightily when we needed the support the most.  We are forever in their debt.

Clinical, manufacturer and supplier members have borne incredible burdens over the years in supporting NAAOP, and Hanger is at the top of that list. Ossur, Ottobock, Endolite, Freedom Innovations, ALPS, Knit-Rite and Scheck & Siress stand out with Hanger for going the extra mile and helping NAAOP defend and advocate for the O&P profession.  We offer our sincere appreciation for  their generosity.

Finally, we could never comprehensively list the hundreds of individual prosthetists, orthotists, solo practices, and small businesses that have made NAAOP what it is today.  We are so very grateful for their contributions through the years, especially long time members like the Muilenburg family of Houston, Texas, Mike Reith in St. Petersburg, Florida, Richard Williams in Tallahassee, Florida and the Leimkuehler families of Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to name but a few of our dedicated and generous membership.  We cannot thank you enough and hope to continue to earn your trust as we represent the O&P profession in Washington in the future.

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