Earlier this month, Congress introduced the Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act (H.R. 2487 in the House, S. 1315 in the Senate). The legislation would authorize $5 million per year for three years to provide limited, one-time competitive grants to qualified universities to create or expand accredited advanced education programs in prosthetics and orthotics. Priority will be given to programs that partner with Veterans’ Administration or Department of Defense facilities, including opportunities for clinical training, to ensure that students become familiar with and can respond to the unique needs of service members and Veterans with limb loss or limb impairment.
We need your help to get support for this important legislation, write your legislators and urge them to cosponsor it.
The medical conditions faced by Veterans have become increasingly complex with more than 90,000 Veterans being served by the VA having lost limbs. While new technologies and devices are available to treat these conditions and improve quality of life, these innovations require more sophisticated, advanced training on the part of clinicians. A 2015 study commissioned by the National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetics Education concluded that, by 2025, “overall supply of credentialed O&P providers would need to increase by about 60 percent to meet the growing demand.” This is illustrated by the fact that this year the 13 schools with accredited O&P programs will graduate fewer than 250 clinicians combined. We clearly face a dire shortage in the number of clinicians needed to care for our aging population and Veterans.
The result of this limited, cost-effective approach to assisting universities in creating or expanding accredited master’s degree programs in O&P is more effective treatment of patients in the VA, Medicare and Medicaid, resulting in fewer co-morbidities. It has also been demonstrated that proper and prompt access to O&P care can lower overall health costs.
All we need is a few minutes of your time. Please visit AOPA Votes and send a message to your legislators, urging them to cosponsor this important legislation.
Thank you for your efforts, your advocacy makes a huge difference. If you have any questions, please reach out to Justin Beland, Director of Government Affairs at the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association at jbeland@AOPAnet.org