The O&P Alliance: Providing a Unified Voice

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This article is the first in a series in 2015 that will highlight the unified advocacy efforts of the O&P Alliance. In subsequent articles, The O&P EDGE has invited representatives from the organizations that comprise the Alliance to share what the joint endeavors mean to them and their constituents.

Background

The O&P Alliance was established in 2005 to elicit the cooperation and coordination of like-minded organizations in the O&P profession and industry. It works to raise awareness of public policies that benefit O&P patients and the providers who serve them, as well as encourage advocacy. This coalition initially comprised four national O&P organizations: the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy); the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC); the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA); and the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP). The Board for Certification/Accreditation (BOC) accepted the Alliance's invitation to become a member in November 2011.

While the Alliance presents the unified voice of these five member organizations, it is not an independent entity. As such, its website contains minimal information-listings of the members with website links, and an outline of its mission and priorities. Communications on policy issues and related matters are functions of the individual member organizations. Further, as emphasized by NAAOP General Counsel Peter W. Thomas, JD, in a 2008 article about the Alliance, the Alliance does not represent the entire field or every aspect of O&P. "Alliance members recognize that many other important organizations function in the O&P space and each plays a critical role in the betterment of the field. The Alliance is not intended to exclude any organization or point of view and routinely works in conjunction with other O&P-related organizations on an issue-by-issue basis," Thomas wrote.

Priorities

The O&P Alliance has three priorities:

  1. Quality and Qualification: The Alliance is committed to assisting its member organizations in advocating for state and federal policies aimed at ensuring patients receive services from appropriately trained and educated practitioners.
  2. Coverage and Reimbursement: The Alliance is dedicated to advocating for fair and equitable coverage and reimbursement policies so that patients have access to technology and can continue to receive high-quality O&P services.
  3. Education and Research: The O&P Alliance is focused on advocating for policies aimed at enhancing O&P educational opportunities and promoting a broad range of research, including research opportunities that show the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of O&P services.

(Editor's note: For in-depth details on these priorities, visit www.oandpalliance.org.)

Structure

The Alliance is driven by a steering committee and is structured such that one representative from each of the five member organizations sits on that committee, which meets periodically via conference call. The steering committee is responsible for making all decisions, setting and implementing agenda items, and serving the administrative functions of the coalition. Each member organization contributes its time and effort to the Alliance, and provides a yearly sum to cover costs for retaining legislative and regulatory counsel. Functioning under a consensus rule, each member organization has one equal vote; if any one organization does not agree that the Alliance should become involved in a proposed issue, then that issue would fall to the individual organization(s) with an interest in pursuing it.

Strength in Numbers

The principles that there is strength in numbers and that consistent messages are more powerful than fragmented ones represent the importance of the collective voice of the O&P Alliance.