The Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), and Hanger Orthopedic Group, Bethesda, Maryland, have partnered to ensure that national healthcare reforms meet the needs of amputees.
We are working to convince Congress to explicitly require coverage of rehabilitation therapies and durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) in all insurance plans offered through the healthcare reform efforts.
We are also working to make sure that state benefit requirements are protected. Many states have used their longstanding regulatory authority over health plans in the non-group and small-group markets to enact laws that remove gaps in coverage for people with disabilities. We are urging Congress to oppose any amendment that would preempt or roll-back these state benefit laws. Such an amendment could lead to a drastic reduction in coverage.
Finally, we are also working to address Medicare's two-year waiting period. While most of the 40 million Americans covered under Medicare are age 65 and older, nearly six million others qualify because of severe and permanent disabilities. Unlike older Americans, who typically enroll and become eligible for coverage within months of turning 65, these younger beneficiaries must wait two years before their coverage takes effect. If people with disabilities are forced to wait up to two years to receive access to affordable coverage, they will continue to face insurmountable barriers to essential services and/or be bankrupted by out-of-pocket expenses.
The ACA, AOPA, and Hanger are working together to bring together activists from 26 states in Washington DC on September 16. We are looking for folks to join us for a series of meetings, events, and conversations throughout the week to show strong public support. We are also looking to our activists to keep up the calls and e-mails. If you can't make it to DC, call the U.S. capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your senator's and/or representative's office. Tell them to include prosthetic and orthotic devices in the healthcare reform bills.
Morgan Sheets is the national advocacy director for the ACA. For more information, contact or call 202.302.4373.