NAAOP Fellowship Farewell and VA Update

NAAOP Says Goodbye to Inaugural Fellow

August 7th was Nicole Ver Kuilen’s last day as NAAOP’s inaugural summer fellow, and we could not have asked for a better experience for the launch of our fellowship program. Over the past 10 weeks, Nicole shadowed Peter Thomas, NAAOP General Counsel, throughout Washington, traveled around the country meeting with various O&P clinics and professional organizations, and was immersed in state government activities. From her 20 Hill visits with the VGM Group on Capitol Hill, to meeting Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), bilateral amputee and cosponsor of the Medicare O&P Improvements Act of 2017 (S.1191), Nicole says her highlight reel is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. NAAOP would like to thank the organizations that hosted Nicole – Stokosa Prosthetic Clinic, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Hanger, Inc., Orthotic Prosthetic Group of America, and the Amputee Coalition – for the opportunity to expand her learning across the country. We would also like to thank each organization in the O&P Alliance for hosting Nicole, and to our generous NAAOP donors who helped fulfill our vision for this fellowship. In Nicole’s words:

“I would like to thank NAAOP, all of the hosting organizations, and the incredible donors who made this experience possible. They’ve added another highly engaged and well trained advocate to the O&P field, and I’m ready to help as a soldier in the consumer movement, a policy advocate, and as a future leader.”

Nicole has written a first-hand account of the lessons learned as the inaugural fellow, which will be published in the O&P Edge’s September issue. You can also find a photo gallery highlighting Nicole’s experience at http://naaop.org/gallery/2018-fellowship-photo-gallery/

The NAAOP Board Fellowship Committee will meet in Vancouver to discuss the success of the program and look for ways to improve upon and expand on this initial pilot. We look forward to sharing our vision with you for the year to come.

House VA Health Subcommittee Holds “Roundtable” Discussion

Peter Thomas and Nicole Ver Kuilen participated in a Roundtable held by the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health to discuss the VA’s proposed rule, which limits amputee veterans’ ability to choose their O&P practitioner. Both Chairman Neal Dunn, M.D., (R-FL) and Ranking Member Julia Brownley (D-CA) expressed concern that the proposed rule would upend the long-standing practice of veteran choice and reduce access to care by substantially redefining medical necessity. The Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) in attendance agreed with these remarks and were aligned with the position of NAAOP to preserve veteran choice and ensure access to quality care. The VA responded that they valued the partnerships in the room and were willing to alter the language in the final rule.  Peter Thomas also discussed the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights (H.R.2322), which received a hearing by the VA Subcommittee on Health earlier this spring. We hope to move forward as expeditiously as possible on that bill and we keep you informed as developments occur.

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