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8 in Motion Volume 21, Issue 5 September/October 2011

Get Involved and Stay in Touch

HowYou CanMake a Difference

by Dan Ignaszewski

With autumn upon us, the leaves are turning, schools are back in session, most state legislatures are in recess until next year, and Congress is getting back to work after a trying summer flled with a number of diffcult debates. There are still very important issues affecting the limb loss community where you can make a difference. Simply by staying involved and keeping in touch with your congressional leaders, you can be a leader in the limb loss community, and we very much need this leadership right now. The Amputee Coalition has continued to work at the state level to pass insurance fairness for amputees. With laws now on the books in twenty states, this is a great opportunity to reinvigorate the fair insurance access campaign in your state and to touch base with your local elected offcials to encourage them to introduce or reintroduce this important legislation. Fall is the time when groundwork is laid for a successful state campaign, and we need your help to do that. Recently, Delaware passed their law after frst talking with local legislators in the fall of 2009, which lead to the introduction of the bill in 2010, meetings in the fall of 2010, and ultimately the passage of the bill in 2011. Utah passed their bill in 2010, and they used the fall of 2009 to meet with legislators, fnd compromises and build support before the 2010 session. In the fall, you have a great opportunity to meet with your local elected offcials and ask for their support and leadership on an issue that’s important to you and the thousands of amputees throughout your state.

In addition to the state efforts to achieve fair insurance access, the Amputee Coalition continues to work to pass similar legisla-tion on the federal level. We are partnering with other organiza-tions to build momentum on this important issue. The Insurance Fairness for Amputees Act was introduced in the Senate earlier this year (S. 773), and we are working to reintroduce the bill in the House in the fall. You can help by sending an e-mail, flling out an online form on a legislator’s Web site or giving their offce a call and asking them to support this effort. We currently have bipartisan support from a couple of Senators who have signed onto S. 773, but we need more! By contacting your Senators and simply asking them to sign on as a cosponsor of S. 773, you can help build support. By contacting your Representatives, you can ask them to support the House version of the Insurance Fairness for Amputees Act when it’s introduced, which will help generate support and lead to further pressure to introduce the bill soon. These actions are very simple and are very effective in getting action from your elected offcials. It takes only a few minutes to

send an e-mail message, and these messages do make a difference Beyond the fair insurance access issue, and as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, there are also issues of interest to the limb loss community in the federal budget. The number one budget issue affecting the limb loss community are the devastating cuts in fundin that are proposed for programs and resources that are currently provided by the Amputee Coalition to serve the limb loss community Congress has historically directed certain funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for limb loss. This funding is i jeopardy in the President’s budget proposal, which consolidates sev-eral disability funding lines into one line with little direction on how those dollars are to be spent. By contacting your member of Con-gress on this issue, you can help not only the limb loss community, but millions of individuals living with other disabilities throughout the country also affected by these budget proposals. We are asking Congress to stop the CDC consolidation of line items in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) until a needs assessment can be conducted and a plan has been established to ensure the disability community is not forgotten in these tough budget times. On the budget, we ask that you contact your members of Congress and tell them that you are opposed to th budget consolidation for disability services as it has been proposed and that you want Congress to direct the CDC to work with the groups affected by this consolidation to come up with a more work-able plan. (For the exact wording of a request, please sign onto the Amputee Coalition’s Web site in the Advocacy Action Center.) The Amputee Coalition is also working on a number of issues related to healthcare reform implementation, Medicare coverage and competitive bidding, Medicaid coverage and proposed cuts, and veterans issues and coverage options, all of which have the potenti to impact the limb loss community.

With all of this activity at both the state and federal level, there are plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference. You can easily search online to fnd out who your legislators are, and many elected offcials have simple forms you can fll out online to let them know how you feel about these and other issues that are important to you. The Amputee Coalition is here to help you, and if you’re interested in getting in touch with your legislators, you can contact the Amputee Coalition’s government relations department – we’ll be able to provide you with information about specifc issues so that you can contact your state legislators or members of Congress to express yourself on issues important to the limb loss community. Please get involved and stay in touch, and use this time to make a difference for yourself, the limb loss community and other American at risk for amputation.

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