Amputee community: Give us ‘leg to stand on’

AOPA, Amputee Coalition speak out on healthcare reform
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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WASHINGTON – O&P stakeholders yesterday called on lawmakers to ensure that any healthcare reform plan does not return America to a pre-ACA world where amputees can’t afford a leg.

“Before ACA, amputation was considered a pre-existing condition and there were unreasonable limits in insurance coverage,” said Dr. Jeff Cain, a Denver-based physician and head of the advocacy program for the Amputee Coalition. “Without insurance, an amputee wouldn’t be able to afford a leg to stand on.”

Cain spoke during a phone-based news conference co-hosted by the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association and the Amputee Coalition June 27. The call was held after a Congressional Briefing on “The Value of Rehabilitation and Habilitation Services and Devices,” held by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who sharply criticized the Senate healthcare reform bill, which was unveiled June 22.

“All of the problems with this bill are especially true for Americans with a disability,” said Duckworth on the call. “Overall this bill would force working families to pay more money to receive significantly worse care.”

The three priority issues for amputees mirror those of other populations: no cuts to Medicaid that would curb access to treatment and devices; no waivers to services that are covered as an essential health benefit; and no changes to authorize higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, in this case, amputation.

“We want to be ensure that amputees will not be excluded from any insurance plans,” said Michael Oros, president of AOPA, on the call. “It has been demonstrated that access to prompt and proper care can save lives and money.”

There are more than 2 million amputees in the United States, with 500 people joining those ranks each day due to vascular disease, cancer and trauma.

Providing limbs ensures amputees will lead more productive lives, said Adrianne Haslet, a Boston marathon bombing survivor and world class ballroom dancer, who has become an amputee rights advocate.

“In the past four and a half years, I have run a marathon on a blade, dove with sharks and danced again,” she said during the call.