what if … you couldn’t get a prosthesis?

less is more 05.01.15

What if you lost your arm or leg and required a prosthesis? What if you had insurance when that happened? What if that insurance covered the cost of your amputation surgery? What if you left the hospital and looked forward to reclaiming your life with the help of a prosthesis? What if you visited a prosthetist 4-6 after becoming an amputee and were told that your insurance would cover only your initial prosthesis … or no prosthesis at all?

Several states – New York, Alaska, Nevada – either restrict prosthetic coverage to one prosthesis per limb per lifetime (NY) or don’t offer it at all (AK, NV) in plans available on their insurance exchanges. In this month’s Amp’d, The Amputee Mommy and I discuss the advocacy efforts underway in NY. We explain the underlying issues and what amputees can do to make their voices heard.

I was lucky enough to directly participate in some of those efforts in my capacity as President of the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics. (For more information about NAAOP generally and how to become a member/support the organization, please click on the link under the heading “Blogroll” on the upper left-hand portion of this webpage. NAAOP needs your support to engage in these kinds of efforts!) And, because like all advocacy efforts, things change fast, I’m happy to have a bit of an Amp’d spoiler alert.

The head of the New York State Senate’s Health Committee, Kemp Hannon, authored a letter just two days ago to the Executive Director of the New York health insurance exchange requesting that she eliminate the one prosthesis per limb per life restriction in that state’s benchmark plan. (When Peggy and I recorded our podcast, this had not yet happened. Click on the following link to read Senator Hannon’s letter: Hannon 1L4L Letter 04.28.15.) Special thanks to Senators John Bonacic, Andrew Lanza, Kenneth LaValle, Jack Martins, Mark Panepinto, and Michael Venditto as well, all of whom joined with Senator Hannon’s call for eliminating the one prosthesis per life restriction.

It’s an important step in the New York State advocacy effort, but it’s only the first step. We have just learned that the deadline for NY to make changes to the benchmark plan is only 30 days away, so much work remains to be done if we are to give NY amputees access to prosthetic devices in 2016.

If you haven’t already signed the petition requesting that NYS legislators take action regarding this issue, join the more-than 13,800 people who have already done so.

Access to qualified prosthetic care is a basic health care right for amputees. For many, it is the difference between living independently or requiring full-time assistance; between living an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle or a healthy, active one; or between being forced to sit at home and depend on the government for support or rejoining the workforce.

In this month’s Amp’d, learn the dangers of taking this right for granted and how to make sure every amputee has the same opportunity to live a productive, active, healthy life.

P.S. The Amputee Mommy is getting in on the advocacy action as well, as she testifies in Washington D.C. today! Click here to read her pre-testimony post on the subject.

3 thoughts on “what if … you couldn’t get a prosthesis?

  1. This is certainly an important effort and is instructive for me, as I contemplate how best to address my state’s (Texas’) total lack of coverage for orthoses and prostheses for people 21 and older. If anyone reading this post has comments about this issue, I would appreciate hearing them.

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