CMS Reverses Proposed Rule Change that was Detrimental to Athletic Training

November 4, 2014 by JordanG

NATA and other entities supportive of athletic training came to the defense of the profession over the summer after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule that could have negatively affected athletic trainers if implemented as written.
This work paid off on Friday, Oct. 31, when CMS released the nal rule fiand decided not to move forward with the proposed changes.
NATA President Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, said, “NATA views this action by CMS as great progress for athletic training. CMS proposed a rule that could have cost ATs their jobs and harmed the profession. We think because of the significant and impactful arguments made by many on behalf of ATs, CMS opted not to pursue the rule change. They have left the door open to revisit the issue, so our work is not done. Like with many regulatory issues, we have to temper this victory with the fact that we still have much work to do to educate CMS and others about who athletic trainers are and what we do. NATA is up to the task.”
On July 2, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule for public comment related to the coverage and payment of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS). Specifically, the rule defined those health professionals that have “specialized training” needed to provide custom fitting services if providers are not certified orthotists.
The proposed rule would have excluded athletic trainers from the ability to perform services that are obviously part of their education, training and clinical experience.
President Thornton formed a task force made up of NATA members, representatives from the BOC and CAATE, and other experts in the area of orthotics to work with NATA staff to respond to this issue. The task force and staff collected data and information to respond directly to each of the items CMS proposed as part of their rationale for the rule change. The task force and staff worked together to draft a formal comment letter from NATA to CMS making the argument that athletic trainers are more than qualified to perform these services.
NATA engaged in outreach to physician organizations, health professional groups, manufacturers, smaller employers of athletic trainers and individual physician practices that were willing to collaborate in reaching out to CMS and Capitol Hill. NATA staff and industry partners also met with key members of Congress on the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees. NATA received support from a number of key members of Congress who joined together to write a letter to CMS in support of including athletic trainers as a health profession with “specialized training.”
Last week CMS released their final rule, and they decided to not move forward with their proposed changes to the “minimal self-adjustment” definition to specify certain “individuals with specialized training” with regard to the definition of OTS orthotics. 
NATA will continue efforts to advance the profession on all fronts and will keep our members updated as we move forward.
If you have any questions, please contact our Government Affairs Department.