NFL to provide more assistance for joints

The National Football League and NFL Players Association's newly created NFL Player Joint Replacement Benefit Plan has selected 14 leading medical centers across the country to assist eligible retired players in need of joint replacement surgery, it was announced today.

The medical facilities, carefully chosen for their expertise, high-quality service and reputation, will make available specialized, coordinated care to players covered by this new program. The program provides a common application process to assist them gain access to the institutions.

The plan also will provide financial assistance to all players, regardless of their financial situation, to cover the cost of the operations. For players not covered by insurance and who cannot pay for the procedure, additional financial assistance will be available from the newly created NFL Player Care Foundation. Players eligible for assistance from the NFL Player Care Foundation will not be responsible for the cost of either the joint replacement surgery or post-operative rehabilitation.

HCR Manor Care, a leader in short-term post-acute rehabilitation services with 280 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers and 85 outpatient rehabilitation therapy clinics nationwide, has been selected to provide post-surgery rehabilitation and physical therapy to players who qualify for financial assistance from the NFL Player Care Foundation. The costs of these services will be paid for by the NFL Player Care Foundation.

This foundation and the joint replacement program are two of several initiatives developed by an NFL Alliance represented by the NFL, NFLPA, Hall of Fame and NFL Alumni Association. Formed in May, the "Alliance" is looking at new ways to address medical needs of retired players, including joint replacements, cardiovascular health programs and assisted living arrangements.

Funding for the NFL Player Care Foundation, which is presently governed by representatives of members of the Alliance, includes $10 million from NFL owners added to an existing pool of $7 million in Alliance funds. This initial $17 million commitment will be supplemented by on-field player fine money and additional contributions from the NFLPA; other Alliance members, and other interested retired player groups.

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