HELLPP Act – HR 1761

On April 25, HR 1761, The Helping Ensure Life- and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act, was introduced in the 113th Congress by US Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE).

Unlike previous access legislation that has focused solely on rectifying the exclusion of podiatrists from Medicaid, the HELLPP Act includes multiple comprehensive reforms and goes further to ensure podiatric physicians will continue to save lives, limbs, and health-care dollars.

The HELLPP Act would accomplish three important goals:

1. Recognize podiatrists as physicians under Medicaid—A chief goal of Vision 2015, recognizing podiatrists as physicians, would finally bring Medicaid into line with Medicare (and a majority of US health-care delivery systems) and ensure Medicaid patients have access to care by the best educated and trained providers of foot and ankle care.

2. Clarify and improve coordination of care in Medicare’s Therapeutic Shoe Program for Patients with Diabetes—The current process and Medicare contractor requirements for determining eligibility for Medicare’s Therapeutic Shoe Program for Patients with Diabetes, and for furnishing this medically necessary benefit, are unnecessarily burdensome and frequently bogged down, leading to frustration on the part of the certifying physician, prescribing doctor, and supplier. These clarifications would allow each member of the collaborative team—MD/DO, DPM, and supplier—to work together more effectively and seamlessly on behalf of diabetic patients, resulting in less patient confusion, less provider frustration, and fewer office visits for the Medicare system.

3. Strengthen Medicaid program integrity—By closing a loophole that allows tax-delinquent Medicaid providers to still receive full Medicaid reimbursements, this provision will save the Medicaid system money and more than offset any additional federal budget costs associated wtih the inclusion of podiatrists. Such a mechanism already exists in Medicare and could potentially save billions of dollars for the public health-care system.

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