Study: Full O&P services lower long-term Medicare costs | Researchers remotely trigger muscle twitch with another person's brain waves | "Rubber hand" illusion reveals how brain maps the body
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August 29, 2013
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AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Study: Full O&P services lower long-term Medicare costs
Patients who received full O&P services had lower long-term medical costs and greater independence than did those who didn’t receive such services, according to a study by the Amputee Coalition of almost 42,000 Medicare beneficiaries from 2007 to 2010. Initial costs may be higher, said health economist Dr. Allen Dobson, the study director, but the devices encourage rehabilitation and help patients avoid hospitals. "This is a clear win for patients and a win for taxpayers," said AOPA President Thomas Kirk. "Not only do patients who get full orthotic and prosthetic treatment benefit the most, but it also ends up costing taxpayers less in most cases." Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) (8/28)
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Science and Technology
Researchers remotely trigger muscle twitch with another person's brain waves
University of Washington researchers say they have successfully triggered muscle movement in one individual – in this case a finger twitch – solely through the thoughts of a second person. In a video of the experiment, both subjects wear magnetic stimulation caps. One person imagines flicking his finger while watching a video game, causing the second person to move his finger. Scientists are working on similar technology to power prosthetic limbs. USA Today (8/28)
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"Rubber hand" illusion reveals how brain maps the body
Human and monkey experiments with the "rubber hand" illusion, which involve using visual and touch cues to trick the brain into thinking an artificial hand is the real hand, reveal that the brain uses a process of multisensory integration, in which sight combines with both touch and muscle sense to provide a physical sense of ourselves, or a body map. These studies suggest that vision can actually control specialized touch neurons, which has important implications for development of advanced prosthetic devices. The Guardian (London) (8/27)
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Superthin, superstrong graphene could be used in bionic limbs
Graphene, perhaps the thinnest, strongest material yet created, has drawn a flood of patents from such companies as Apple, IBM, Saab and Lockheed Martin. Although expensive to produce, graphene is made from ordinary graphite and is both versatile and highly conductive. It is being tested for living tissue applications in prostheses, as well as other commercial uses. International Business Times (8/26)
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Medical News
Inflammation may be more closely linked to diabetes risk than weight
Metabolically healthy people showed lower levels of inflammatory markers, including high blood glucose, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, regardless of their weight, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism indicated. Researchers said the findings suggest diabetes and heart disease risk may be more closely linked to inflammation than to excess weight, which may explain why some obese patients do not develop diabetes. U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay News (8/27)
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Legislative and Regulatory
HHS to review CMS bids for DMEPOS
In response to congressional queries, the HHS Office of the Inspector General will conduct a limited review in four states of how CMS conducted the bidding process for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies. Specially, the OIG will investigate allegations of whether unlicensed providers received awards during Round 2 bidding in Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. CMS says the program could save Medicare Part B as much as $25.7 billion from 2013 to 2022, but some members of Congress want the second round of bidding delayed. Bloomberg BNA (free content) (8/28)
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Economists, industry criticize Medicare DMEPOS bidding process
CMS says its Competitive Bidding Program for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies is saving substantial amounts each year. But many economists, patients and industry groups contend that the program, which employs nonbinding bids and allows CMS to set median prices, is unfair and flawed. "This is not competitive bidding and there is no guarantee that the winning bidders can actually supply the products and services at the prices selected by CMS," said Joel Marx of the American Association for Homecare. MedPage Today (free registration) (8/26)
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Medicare template for lower-limb prostheses drafted by CMS
CMS has prepared a document, "Suggested Electronic Clinical Template for Lower Limb Prostheses," to help Medicare providers collect the necessary medical documentation to substantiate orders for lower-limb prosthetic devices. CMS is facilitating calls in which physicians, prosthetists and other health professionals may provide feedback on the document; the next one is Sept. 11. Health Industry Washington Watch blog (8/27)
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CMS updates off-the-shelf orthoses eligible for bidding
CMS has updated its HCPCS list of off-the-shelf orthotic devices defined as needing minimal adjustment, which could be subject to a round of DMEPOS competitive bidding in the future. Although CMS is authorized to include OTS orthotics in bidding competitions, it has not done so to date. CMS has not yet identified which specific orthotic codes might be included in such a bidding process. Health Industry Washington Watch blog (8/27)
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Featured Content
Trend Watch
Double-amputee runners nearing world record marks
The recent record-shattering performances of Paralympian double-amputee sprinter Alan Oliveira has raised the question of what happens when such runners can reach or break world records set by able-bodied athletes. The physics of running, where the force of the foot -- or blade -- striking the ground is critical, suggest that Oliveira could possibly run the 400 meters in a world-class time of 45 seconds or less. The Huffington Post/The Blog (8/27)
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AOPA News
Breaking news from AOPA
An AOPA-funded study measuring the cost effectiveness of O&P care is grabbing headlines--the results demonstrated Medicare beneficiaries and other payers get a solid bang for their buck with an 18-month payback compared to non-care patients--read all about it! The AOPA World Congress will feature an impressive amount of regulatory education on Friday including a mock audit session where you can bring a patient file. On Saturday at the World Congress, OPAF and the Amputee Coalition will be hosting Limb Loss Education Day--don’t miss it! CMS’s follow-up, open-door forum call is coming up soon, and ACPOC has a new president--all of this in today’s AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
Sept. 11: Read Between the Lines: The Medicare Lower Limb Prosthetic Policy (Telephone audio conference)
Learn more or register online
Sept. 18-21: AOPA O&P World Congress, Orlando, Fla.
Learn more or register online
Oct. 22-23: Mastering Medicare: Advanced Coding and Billing Techniques, Las Vegas
Learn more or register online
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