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AOPAs annual Policy Forum brought new dimension to the words "Policy Forum". Held in Washington, D.C. on February 7-9, 1999, this years forum smoothly blended fun with the learning experience.

More than 130 O&P advocates from 33 states met in Washington, D.C. to share their O&P experience with colleagues, focus on legislative and regulatory issues effecting the O&P profession, and deliver a strong and united message to Congress.

Visits to Capitol Hill

O&P professionals carried the O&P message to more than 100 Capitol Hill offices.

99pf1.jpg (48401 bytes)The primary messages were simple:
  • The Presidents FY 2000 Budget proposal to cut Medicare O&P $580 million over the next 5 years will destroy qualified O&P providers and Medicare beneficiaries will no longer receive high quality custom orthotic and prosthetic care.
  • O&P patient care and custom devices require a high level of skills. Providers without the necessary skills and facilities are providing many highly technical custom O&P services. As examples, attendees showed their Hill contacts pictures from the Electronic Illustrated Guide of several custom devices and corresponding HCFA payment data showing the types of providers being paid for the devices.
  • If Congress wants to improve the quality of patient care, curtail waste, fraud and abuse in O&P, and save Medicare dollars, it should establish educational standards for O&P practice and ensure that all custom O&P care billed under the L codes is supervised by qualified professionals. 


When AOPA members reflect on the 1999 Policy Forum, they remark on their positive and rewarding experience. Brad Ruhl, Director of Sales and Marketing for Otto Bock, had this to say about the event, " I certainly learned a great deal personally-the organization was great and the speakers were very effective." First-timer Shandon Hime of Anatomical Designs found that the Policy Forum "helped me to bring into focus certain issues affecting O&P: the VA, Medicare, and others. Its important for us to work with the government to save money, cut fat, and give the patient the best care." After the experience of the Policy Forum, Hime is planning on continuing the lobbying efforts, including planning a facility visit for his congressman.

Attendees were filled with excitement, after visiting congressional offices. This was the second annual Policy Forum for Micki Pawlowski of Calumet Orthopedic and Prosthetic Co., finds the "response so positive Im ready for the next one." Next year, according to Pawlowski, "Ill do more than the three visits I did this time; Ill do as many as possible." She thinks she was successful in getting the message through, and comments "We will not compromise quality of care. We are providing a better way of life so people can contribute to society."


Speakers included: Political Analyst Charlie Cook; Fred Downs of the Veterans Health Administration; George Grob and Demetra Arapakos of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; Bill Vaughn, Minority Counsel for the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee; Marcia Sayer from the House Human Resources Committee; and Monica Tencate and Rob Forman from the Senate Finance Committee.

The guest of honor at the PAC reception was Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT). The Senator is the Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over public and occupational health issues. The Committee also has oversight on Federal health insurance programs (Medicare and FEHBP). Members had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the senator to gain insight in to issues effecting O&P.

Many members of the O&P Legislative Network (OPLAN) participated in the Policy Forum and made Hill visits. OPLAN members work all year to develop and maintain personal relationships with congress. For all of their efforts throughout the year, members were honored at a reception at the Policy Forum.

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Senator Jim Jefford (R-VT) talks with Bill Schumann, CPO

Creating The Best Experience

Attendees gathered with friends, family, and colleagues to enjoy a variety of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres during an evening reception. Afterwards, many joined in the fun and excitement as actors from Scandal Tours delivered a hilarious look on Washington, D.C.

Thank You

AOPA wants to thank all of the participants in the 1999 Policy Forum. Your interest in and enthusiasm for the AOPA Policy Forum is gratifying. Your willingness to devote time to the important legislative and regulatory issues that effect the O&P industry will make a difference for the O&P industry and the patients it serves.

1999 Sponsors

We would like to extend a special thank you to the following companies for their sponsorship of the 1999 AOPA Policy Forum.


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Atlantic Mutual
Co- Sponsor of Tuesdays Breakfast
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Becker Orthopedic
Sponsor of the PAC Reception
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Jardine Group Services
Co- Sponsor of Tuesdays Breakfast
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United States Manufacturing Co.
Sponsor of the Portfolio Bags
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Ohio Willow Wood
Sponsor of the Entertainment Tour
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NovaCare Orthotics and Prosthetics
Sponsor of all Coffee Breaks
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Prosthetic Design, Inc.
Partial Sponsor of Mondays Reception


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Mark Your Calendars

Next February, AOPA will kick off its 2000 Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. We will provide you with the dates as soon as they are set. In the meantime, please contact Tina Moran at or 703-836-7116 Ext. 3005. All of us at AOPA look forward to seeing you there!



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Copyright 1998-1999 American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association.  Last modified: June 18, 1999