Empowering others: sharing experiences, ideas; offering creative solutions to common challenges.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

The fight continues: Amputee Coalition update!

The Amputee Coalition is happy to report that the public meeting last week about the recent Medicare proposal on lower limb prosthetics was a great success!
We are thankful to all of the individuals who spoke out against the recent proposal. Those in attendance and on the phone communicated effective, passionate, personal stories and experiences to express their opposition to the draft proposal and without the support of the many amputees and professionals who participated, we wouldn’t have had the impact that we did to show Medicare the depth and breadth of the opposition to their proposal.
After the Medicare Contractors (DME MACs) were forced to expand the meeting space to accommodate the huge number of people that registered, amputees and their families filled the meeting room. In addition, prosthetists, physicians, physical and occupational therapists, and others provided vital comments in opposition to the proposal to ensure their patients are able to receive access to appropriate prosthetic care.
Dan Berschinski, chairman of the board for the Amputee Coalition, presented our serious concerns with the proposal and encouraged the DME MACs to rescind the proposal and make significant changes in accordance with our formal comments.
It was inspiring to see so many members of the limb loss community come together to share their concerns and make sure amputees’ voices were heard. The comments made by the speakers at the hearing overwhelmingly centered on the issues that were identified by the Amputee Coalition shortly after the draft proposal was published:
  • Proposed changes to patient functional levels:
    • Concern about eliminating potential in determining an amputee’s functional level
    • Concern that assistive devices like crutches, canes and wheelchairs would automatically limit an amputee’s functional status
    • Concern that amputees would be required to attain a “natural gait” in order to get a prosthetic device
  • Proposed changes to the rehab process for new amputees:
    • Concern that the proposal would make new amputees rehab on out-of-date technology before being able to receive an appropriate prosthetic device
  • Proposed changes that would limit foot and ankle options for patients
  • Proposed changes that would eliminate elevated vacuum socket systems for all amputees
  • Proposed changes that could make it more difficult to receive a custom fabricated liner
With more than 400 attendees on the teleconference, and a packed room, this was one of the largest attended public comment meetings in recent memory.  This is a testament to how seriously the limb loss community takes this issue and how powerful we are as a community.  We made the point that prosthetic devices are not a luxury and amputees must be able to receive the most appropriate device at the most appropriate time.
After the conclusion of the public hearing, a special meeting was organized by Sharon Lewis, senior disability policy advisor to the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Administration for Community Living (ACL). Susan Stout (president & CEO), and Jack Richmond (board chair-elect) represented the Amputee Coalition at the meeting. In addition, representatives from AOPA, the Academy, and the O&P Alliance attended to express concerns about the proposal with those at the meeting. From the government, those in attendance included Acting CMS (Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services) Administrator Andy Slavitt, CMS Deputy Administrator Patrick Conway and Senior HHS Counselor Kevin Thurm. Acting Administrator Slavitt acknowledged that the concerns of the group had been heard loud and clear, and that our views would most assuredly be taken into consideration by CMS. He invited representatives of the groups in attendance to submit further comments about the proposal and provided a mechanism to deliver them directly to the medical director of CMS.
Even with the success of the meeting, it is still vital that everyone submits formal comments to the DME MACs about the concerns you have with this issue by the August 31 deadline. Use the Amputee Coalition’s prepared letter, or create your own and send it to: DAMC_Draft_LCD_Comments@anthem.com.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Want to Learn? Check out this important webinar

The best consumers are informed consumers. Whether you are a clinician, a consumer, a caregiver, or even a citizen, you should be informed! Please check out this very important opportunity... it might just impact your life.
And then get involved, Take a stand about this issue and consider becoming active in the Amputee Coalition.

Attend the Amputee Coalition Webinar on Medicare's Proposed Changes to Amputee Care on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 1pm EDT.
The Amputee Coalition invites you to attend this important Webinar to find out more about Medicare’s proposed changes to covering prosthetic care and learn about what you can do to help ensure amputees continue to receive the most appropriate device for their needs.
This presentation will last approximately 45 minutes, and will be followed by an open Question & Answer session to address any additional questions that you may have on this issue.
If you are not able to attend the Webinar on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, it will be posted on our Web site after the conclusion.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email
containing information about joining the Webinar.
View System Requirements
We hope that you will join us to discuss this important topic.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Call to Action: We Need to Enact Change...

Dear All;
As you know, I am an occupational therapist specializing in upper limb prosthetic rehabilitation and in single-handed strategies for those who do not use this technology. I am also a consumer; I have a congenital upper limb deficiency. I have worn and used a prosthesis since I was 14 months of age; at the current age of 59 years, I continue to enjoy the opportunity to wear and use this technology. I truly believe that it has made a difference in my life. Am I able to complete activities without a prosthesis? Yes; but with great cost... cost to efficiency, energy, body integrity, social comfort and even quality of life. Is a prosthesis necessary for all amputees? Maybe not; however we deserve the opportunities to have the choice and to access the technology if desired or needed. These opportunities are currently under threat.

A new proposed coverage policy for lower limb prostheses drafted by Medicare’s contractors has raised significant alarms across the community because of the extremely negative impact it would have on amputees, with some stating it would set prosthetic patient care back four decades to a 1970s standard of care. 
As drafted, the proposed Medicare coverage policy could limit and delay access to prosthetics for people with limb loss.
Right now the government is listening while the draft policy is in a formal 45-day comment period. This comment period ends at the close of business on August 31, 2015. That’s why now is the time to speak up about concerns.
The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) has initiated a petition to the White House to completely rescind the draft policy.  The petition needs to reach 100,000 signatures by the end of August to go to the Obama Administration for comment – a critical step to ensure the highest level of government pays attention to this issue.

I urge you, as a consumer, a clinician, a caregiver, a citizen to become involved and to advocate for better services.
To sign the petition, please visit:  
Immediate steps are being taken across the community to rally with one voice, and every one of us can be a part of this.  Please share this with friends and family and ask for their support!
To learn more about this proposal, watch this video at http://www.naaop.org/vid.asp?name=webcast_august-2015.mp4 and visit The Amputee Coalition’s Grassroots Advocacy Center at http://www.amputee-coalition.org/advocacy-awareness/federal-issues/medicare-issue-alert/
I thank you for your support!