Monday, March 30, 2009

Is your Representative or Senator on this list?

There are two federal bills for prosthetic parity:

1. House Resolution 5615 (HR5615) sponsored by Representative Robert E. Andrews [NJ-1]with the following cosponsors:
Rep Braley, Bruce L. [IA-1] - 5/13/2008
Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 4/30/2008
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 6/18/2008
Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] - 9/9/2008
Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 9/23/2008
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] - 3/13/2008
Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] - 3/13/2008
Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] - 6/18/2008
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 5/19/2008
Rep Fortuno, Luis G. [PR] - 9/15/2008
Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] - 7/10/2008
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 5/19/2008
Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] - 11/19/2008
Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] - 5/7/2008
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 7/10/2008
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 6/18/2008
Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 3/13/2008
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 6/18/2008
Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 6/12/2008
Rep Petri, Thomas E. [WI-6] - 12/9/2008
Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] - 3/13/2008
Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17] - 10/2/2008
Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] - 9/16/2008
Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 9/9/2008
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 9/23/2008
Rep Wamp, Zach [TN-3] - 6/18/2008
Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35] - 6/18/2008
Rep Welch, Peter [VT] - 6/18/2008

See any representatives from KS or my representative from MO on this list? Hmmm...?

The Senate bill (S.3517) was sponsored by Olympia J. Snowe [R-ME] with the following cosponsors:

Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] - 9/25/2008
Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] - 9/18/2008
Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] - 9/18/2008
Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] - 9/18/2008
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] - 10/2/2008
Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] - 12/11/2008

If you don't see your Senator or Representative on this list, take action now. Call, write, email, fax, whatever you need to do. The Amputee Coalition of America Advocacy Center has some good sample letters and links at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trying to attain normalcy...

A few weeks ago my coworker Lori and I were out and about when we spotted a security guard on a Segway. I commented how cool that would be for the disabled, that they wouldn't be in a wheelchair, looking up at everyone, that they could be at eye level, moving along smartly and feeling "normal." Wondering if there were Segways for the disabled, I ran across this article.

I didn't feel good after I read it, in fact, I felt sickened. Why? Because it's another example of limitations for the disabled. See, everyone cheers if you beat the odds, perform amazing feats, but try to blend in and just live a normal life without wearing the big blue "D" on your chest, or try to use a mobility device or prosthetic that gives you an "advantage" (ha - advantage - how funny is that?) and you can find yourself in the situation this man did.

When I was between legs, waiting to see if my knee would heal, Dave made me a decoy leg out of Pringle's cans. I found that if I wore the decoy leg and used crutches, that strangers would joke with me and my co-workers felt more comfortable because a "broken" leg looked more "normal." Without the Pringle's decoy, people would either look the other way, avoid me altogether, or, worst case scenario, the other extreme - go slack-jawed, stare, point at the offending missing limb and blurt out, "What happened there?!" If this happens to you, be sure to quickly turn around and shout out, "Where?!" This should start an interest exchange of "Where?!" "There!" "Where?!" until you look down in horror and discover that your body part is missing whereupon you shriek in horror (don't hold back!), "Oh My GOD-MY-LEG?! WHERE'S MY LEG?!" then, as dignified as possible, walk off and leave them basking in their own stupidity and ignorance.

Anyway, give the article a read when you can - it's insightful and very well written.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking News About Federal Parity

Washington, DC, March 11, 2009 - On Tuesday, March 10, the Amputee Coalition of America had nearly 200 amputees and patient advocates from 34 states in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress members to support fair insurance coverage for artificial arms and legs. Their message was simple: Arms and legs are not a luxury!

These citizen lobbyists made this trip to tell lawmakers that they need their own “bailout.” Many of them have nightmarish stories of fighting with insurance companies to try to get the prosthetic devices they need to work and live.

“Insurance companies are unrealistically limiting reimbursement of prosthetic arms and legs or summarily electing not to cover them at all,” said Kendra Calhoun, Amputee Coalition president and CEO. “We intend to turn this tide, and this event is a great example of the grassroots support we have from across the country to do so. Arms and legs are not luxury items. Mobility is a serious issue for amputees who want to keep their jobs, take care of their families, and live healthy, active lives.”

Jeffrey Cain, MD, is a bilateral lower-limb amputee and a member of the Amputee Coalition’s Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Committee. Dr. Cain is an excellent example of how prosthetic devices can help amputees function in their daily lives and contribute to society rather than become dependent on it.

“Being able to have prosthetic devices means that I can take care of my patients and teach medical students,” said Dr. Cain.

Unfortunately, working people with employer-provided health insurance plans are often the ones with the biggest problems, Dr. Cain noted. “Because employer-provided insurance plans are increasingly introducing unreasonable limits and caps, if you have a job in America – if you are a hardworking member of society – you can’t afford a leg to stand on. It’s gotten that bad.”

In fact, some insurance companies are providing coverage for only one prosthesis per lifetime or eliminating coverage completely.

“Even for older adults, it is absurd to expect them to use only one prosthesis in their lifetime,” Calhoun said. “No one would expect a person to wear a single pair of shoes their entire life, and prosthetic devices should be no different.”

These types of insurance company practices pose especially grave challenges for families of children with limb loss.

Rick Castro, of Connecticut, took two of his children to the event because he wanted to try to get better prosthetic coverage for all families, including his own. Castro’s 4-year-old daughter Jennifer was born missing part of her arm below the elbow, and Castro is well aware that, as she grows, she’ll need several highly expensive prosthetic devices.

“When people find out that their insurance company doesn’t provide fair coverage for prosthetic devices, what do they do?” asked Dr. Cain. “They mortgage their homes, raid their children’s college fund, go into debt, turn to government programs for assistance, or are forced to have bake sales to try to pay for these medically necessary and often very expensive devices. That’s pretty sad, especially when they’ve paid their insurance premiums for years for this very purpose.”

David Ross, of New York City, lost part of his right hand and his right leg above the knee after he was mugged and thrown in front of a subway in 1997. He’s seen what happens when amputees have to settle for devices that are not really what they need because of the limitations in their insurance policies, and that’s what brought him to Capitol Hill.

“It’s so unfair that prosthetics are not covered by health insurance plans to the same degree that other conditions are,” Ross said. “It’s a shame that a lot of my fellow amputees who have already had to get over a traumatic accident or being born without a limb have to fight for something that should already be included in their insurance policy.”

Robert D. Doty, Jr., MD, who lost his left arm as a result of a car falling on him, has had problems with his insurance company not understanding – or not acknowledging – his prosthetic needs.

“My carrier did not want to cover a body-powered prosthesis after covering a myoelectric prosthesis,” Doty said. “The company said that one prosthesis is as good as another and that they can do the same thing, which is not true. I can’t do anything around water, liquids, chemicals or heavy machinery or do any heaving lifting with my myoelectric prosthesis without damaging it. It’s great for doing fine, precise work, but if I’m going to be doing heavy lifting or working around water or liquids, a body-powered prosthesis is better. I really need both.”

As these nearly 200 citizen lobbyists hustled from office to office, they made it clear that they want change. In a single day, they made more than 60 Senate visits and more than 100 House visits. In addition, 26 organizations, including disability rights groups and O&P [orthotic and prosthetic] professional organizations, have now signed on with the Amputee Coalition of America to help move this legislation forward.

“We are thrilled with the results of the day,” said Morgan Sheets, the Amputee Coalition’s national advocacy director. “We are already hearing from House and Senate members who are interested in co-sponsoring our bills and supporting our efforts for fair coverage of artificial arms and legs. The turnout exceeded our expectations, and the great enthusiasm of the participants has certainly encouraged us to continue this important fight for fairness.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


It's against the law now in 11 states to restrict prosthetic coverage. Leglislation is pending in 30 more states. That's 41 states in which legislation is either pending or passed. That leaves only 9 states in the dark and the Governor of one of those states is President Obama's choice for the Director of Health and Human Services. I've been reflecting on the appointment of Governor Kathleen Sebelius to Director of Health and Human Services for the last few days. It's weirdly ironic, that's for sure. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about it. Problem is, I'm trying to form an opinion with no evidence from the Governor or her appointees to the Kansas Health Care Commission that they really care about the issue of prosthetic parity because...well...frankly, because neither the Governor or her appointees have responded to a single letter that we've written. On the other hand they are considering changing the 2010 state employee health care contract. Ask me again in May when a decision is made on the contract. Ask me again when the Federal prosthetic parity bill gets sent to HHS.

News from other states:

Utah - the House has passed a prosthetic parity bill. Opponents complain saying, "We won't have a market driven health care system." R-i-g-h-t. Market driven. I'm going to stop here before I say something profane. The cost? 18 cents per policy holder. "OOoo...I don't know. Should I get the policy with or without the prosthetic coverage in case I should have an accident and lose a limb or should I buy a chicklet?"

Virginia - SB 1116 was passed by the Virginia House on a 99 to 0 vote. There is one more bureaucratic step to make sure the Senate agrees to move the House version, but the bill should be on its way to the Governor's desk very soon. *UPDATE* The bill passed the House and Senate!

Maryland - (video)

Missouri - On March 10, 2009, the Missouri Senate Committee considering the Prosthetic Parity Bill voted unanimously (7-0) to pass it! It still has to pass the House committee and then the full House and Senate but this is a great start and speaks to the soundness of the bill. GO Big MO!

Kansas - Prosthetic parity? Here's an old fence post and a paring knife. Get to whittlin' there girl!