On April 8, 2011, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S773, the Insurance Fairness for Amputees Act, which in previous Congresses was entitled the Prosthetic and Custom Orthotic Parity Act. S773 would require plans that cover O&P services to provide those benefits at the same level as other surgical and medical benefits provided under a private health plan, with no separate caps, arbitrary exclusions or lifetime limits for O&P care.
Because the bill does not mandate coverage, the bill should not cost the federal government anything, according to a National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) press release. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives.
Reintroduction of this legislation is critical in the O&P profession’s efforts to have orthotic and prosthetic services and devices covered under the essential health benefits package under the health reform bill, according to the release.
The NAAOP is asking all senators to cosponsor this legislation. As members of the Senate and House are asked to cosponsor this bill, the general awareness level of the importance of O&P coverage continues to take hold, according to the release.
According to the NAAOP, many O&P organizations deserve great credit for the success of this initiative especially the Amputee Coalition. The Coalition has been the lead supporter of federal parity efforts and has worked tirelessly throughout the years to enact state-based legislation that also ensures insurance fairness for O&P coverage under private insurance. In fact, currently, 19 states have passed legislation ensuring that access to prosthetic or orthotic services and devices is on par with other medical/surgical benefits in policies offering O&P coverage.
In addition to the Amputee Coalition, members of the O&P Alliance, particularly the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, have worked hard on this issue, as well as Hanger.
NAAOP supports S773 and is working hard to see that as many senators as possible become cosponsors of the legislation. NAAOP provides the following steps to take action:
- Visit www.naaop.org and visit the Congressional Action Center to immediately send a message to your senator urging him or her to cosponsor S773. A draft message is there for use.
- Use your 112th Congressional Directory to call your senators or call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your two senators’ offices. Ask them to cosponsor S 773 and explain why it is so important they do so.