Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have 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.
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 data collected as part of this legislation will provide comparison data across Medicare, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the private health insurance market to determine where there are gaps. 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.
Available data shows 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 nearly a decade 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.”
There are real opportunities during the remainder of this congressional session to see this bill get folded into a COVID relief package, a funding extender, or the budget omnibus. We will keep you posted on its progress, and we look forward to it becoming law.