The American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association and the Amputee Coalition held a phone-based news conference to discuss the potential impacts of health care reform on patient care for amputees, including veterans, accident victims and older Americans. The call followed a Congressional briefing on the value of rehabilitation and habilitation.
Speakers included Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.); Michael Oros, American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) president; Jeff Cain, MD, head of the advocacy program at the Amputee Coalition and former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians; Adrianne Haslet-Davis, an O&P advocate and survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing; and O&P advocates Kelly J. Miller and Ann McSweeney.
“[Considering] the Senate Republican [revision of the health care bill], all of [its] problems [are] especially true to Americans like myself, with a disability,” Duckworth said. Duckworth lost both of her legs to a combat injury while serving as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Iraq. “Overall, this bill would force working families to pay more money to receive significantly worse care. Out-of-pocket costs would increase, deductibles would rise and premiums would go up. It would [allow] insurers to stop covering the essential benefits [that] millions of veterans, amputees and people with disabilities rely on.”
Oros added, “For amputees, loss of affordable health insurance not only means a loss of care, it also means a loss of independence and liberty in the form of the mobility that the care makes possible. We are concerned that the possible removal of certain essential health benefits — from which orthotics and prosthetic are covered — [in] insurance plans that may cause individuals to face the possibility of not having coverage for orthotics and prosthetics or be faced with unrealistic annual limits for artificial lifetime caps.”
To be viable, Oros added that health care reform needs to focus on “three priority issues for amputees.” Those issues include: eliminating cuts to Medicaid that would limit access to needed treatment and state-of-the-art devices; eliminating waivers on rehabilitative and habilitative services that could be used to deny access to care and treatment for amputees; and avoiding changes to authorize higher premiums with respect to amputation as a pre-existing condition that could interfere with coverage access.
“It has been demonstrated that proper and prompt orthotic and prosthetic care can save lives and money,” Oros said. “We want to ensure that patients with limb loss or limb impairment will not be excluded from health care plans and will continue to have access to the highest quality of care [that they] deserve.”
According to the speakers, AOPA, the Amputee Coalition and allied organizations will provide information and updates regarding new health care reform and legislation. – by Shawn M. Carter
Disclosure: The speakers report no relevant financial disclosures.