We’re pleased to announce that Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Access to Assistive Technology and Devices for Americans Study Act. This bill will provide credible, actionable data for policymakers to make informed decisions that will improve the lives of people with limb loss.
Specifically, the Access to Assistive Technology and Devices for Americans Study Act directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify barriers to care, gaps in assessments and device prescriptions, and performance measures for timely coverage. It will also study economic impacts of accessing needed care, including return-to-work rates. And, it will provide an “apples to apples” comparison of care and outcomes across payers (Medicare, VA, Department of Defense, and private insurance).
The GAO is an independent, non-partisan federal government agency that is well positioned to collect, synthesize, and analyze data. Policy makers and others can use this credible data to develop a strategic plan to improve care for all Americans living with limb loss and limb difference.
The best available data estimates that only about one-third of Americans who experience limb loss receive a prosthetic device, and little data exists to explain how decisions are made or if individuals are getting the access to care they need. The data that does exist is difficult to compare across providers. This bill changes that.
“I am an above-knee amputee as a result of having bone cancer, and I am so thankful to Senators Blackburn and Duckworth for introducing this important legislation,” said Denise Hoffmann, R.N., and a limb loss patient advocate. “We need data about who receives prosthetic care and why, and this bill helps uncover that information and so much more,” she added. “This is going to be a game changer in how we talk about and plan for post-amputation care and recovery.”
“This bill is the first of its kind, and the first one in seven years that directly addresses the needs and challenges in accessing care for the limb loss and limb difference community,” said Jeffrey Cain, M.D., Chair of the Amputee Coalition Board of Directors. “Amputation isn’t a partisan issue,” Cain added. “The bipartisan collaboration shown with this bill will help ensure greater access for people with limb loss who need prosthetic devices so they can live the life they most want to and return to their independence and ability to engage in their community.”
“On behalf of the 2.1 million Americans living with limb loss and limb difference and the 185,000 undergoing amputation surgery each year, I want to thank Senators Blackburn and Duckworth for their bipartisan leadership in introducing the Access to Assistive Technology and Devices for Americans Study Act,” said Mary Richards, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Amputee Coalition. “This legislation will create the building blocks for smart policy solutions to help people with limb loss receive the assessments, care, and technologies they need to improve mobility and function and reduce health care costs.
The Amputee Coalition is proud to work with Senator Blackburn and Senator Duckworth to push this effort forward. There are real opportunities during the remainder of this congressional session to see this bill move through the process – it may get folded into a COVID relief package, a funding extender, or the budget omnibus.
We need your help to get this done! Please ask your Senator to co-sponsor the legislation. With our community’s engagement, we can get this bill across the finish line. We will keep you posted on its progress, and, together, we look forward to it becoming law.
Educating Your Lawmakers
There are many reasons to contact your legislator directly to share your perspective. As their constituent, they want to hear from you, and even a handful of letters and calls on the same topic will resonate for them.
In April, people living with limb difference and limb loss visited legislators in Washington, D.C. There are three areas that we discussed and flyers with more details:
- Introducing or sponsoring federal insurance fairness
- Co-sponsoring and supporting a bill to make sure Medicare coverage changes are transparent (LCD)
- Including prosthetist’s notes in your medical record as part of insurer’s requirements for medical necessity documentation.
If you’d like to reach out to your legislator, please let them know that you would like their support in these areas.
If you have questions or any issues, contact us at email@example.com.
Advocacy and the Amputee Coalition
The Amputee Coalition helps bring together and amplify the voice of people affected by limb loss and limb difference.
Making sure our legislators and insurance policymakers are educated about the needs of the community is an important part of our mission. We partner with other organizations to bring you the tools you need to understand and address a broad range of issues listed below. We also build partnerships with the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Veterans Administration (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and other federal agencies, as well as with other disability groups and organizations that serve as allies. These partnerships are often broader, delving into needs around the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Medicare and Medicaid, funding for programs and research, and access to care. The Amputee Coalition works with partners to ensure the limb loss community, the disabled community, and the professionals that support these communities are well-represented.
Everything you do makes a difference and turns up the volume of your voice!
The Amputee Coalition will look to maintain current funding from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) which is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This funding helps us deliver the services and resources the Amputee Coalition provides for the limb loss community. In addition, funding research that better identifies and quantifies how to help people living with limb difference and limb loss thrive is an important funding need. There is some research related to prosthetic care and devices, and very little related to other important areas like long-term physical and emotional impacts, mental health challenges, access to meaningful work, levels of discrimination and more.
Reasonable Travel for Amputees
Assuring that security screening is conducted in a reasonable and appropriate fashion by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for people with limb loss remains a priority for the Amputee Coalition. There remain concerns about intrusive and inconsistency in screening policies from the limb loss community. The Amputee Coalition will continue to work with TSA as members of the TSA’s Disability and Multicultural Coalition Task Force to help them to understand these issues so that they can be appropriately addressed to make the traveling experience as reasonable as possible while maintaining the safety for all travelers.
Limb Loss Awareness Month Proclamations
The Amputee Coalition continues to seek proclamations every April in all 50 states to declare April as Limb Loss Awareness Month. A copy of the proclamation language is available along with a spreadsheet providing a link to your state’s proclamation request form and a guide to completing your request is available for those who would like to help raise awareness. A push for recognition and support during Limb loss Awareness Month will help the Amputee Coalition raise awareness about limb loss and provide a mechanism for the whole community to increase their awareness about limb loss.