July is usually considered the middle of summer, but June has been a whirlwind month for prosthetic and orthotic policy and advocacy as the NAAOP Fellows completed the first half of their summer fellowship. Susannah Engdahl, Ph.D., and Alicia Carver have been stellar fellows, following in the footsteps of Nicole Ver Kuilen, last year’s inaugural NAAOP Fellow.
We have spent hours on Capitol Hill advocating for the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Patient-Centered Care Act, the successor to the Medicare O&P Improvement Act, a bill that is soon-to-be-introduced. NAAOP is coordinating with AOPA, which is taking the lead on this legislation, as well as the O&P Alliance organizations. After multiple meetings with Members of Congress and staff thus far, and many more meetings scheduled for July, the provisions in the bill are picking up support from key members of the House and Senate.
The Fellows have learned a tremendous amount during the course of their excursions to Michigan, Iowa, and Florida. Not only were they exposed to the clinical practice of prosthetics at Stokosa Prosthetic Clinic, but they also got a chance to walk the halls of the Michigan State Capitol to advocate on O&P issues. A trip to Gainesville, Florida exposed them to clinical orthotics and prosthetics as well as OPIE software and the future needs of the profession in the area of data collection and outcomes. Finally, a trip to Waterloo exposed the Fellows to OPGA’s operations as well as state politicians and policymakers. The month ended with excursions to Hanger clinics in the local DC area where the Fellows learned about clinical orthotics and prosthetics from a large provider perspective.
Throughout the month, the Fellows visited the national offices of the Alliance organizations and spent a day with BOC, the Academy, ABC, NCOPE, and AOPA. Each of these organizations provided a comprehensive overview of the respective missions and roles of each organization and were gracious in their hospitality. The Fellows have gained in five short weeks a wealth of experiences and knowledge they will take with them through their advocacy and policy efforts in the future.
Special thanks to all those who support the fellowship and NAAOP.