Bipartisan Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

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By Morgan Sheets

A federal parity bill was slated to be introduced before the Senate adjourned at the end of September. This legislation requires health insurance companies to provide meaningful health insurance coverage for prosthetic care. The bill will ensure that people with limb loss who have employer-paid health insurance are able to access needed prosthetic care in order to lead full and independent lives.

With the introduction of the Senate bill, both houses of Congress are considering legislation requiring prosthetic parity. HR 5615 was introduced in March with bipartisan support. It was authored by Representative Rob Andrews (D-New Jersey). Representatives George Miller (D-California), Todd Platts (R-Pennsylvania), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) signed on as original co-sponsors. The number of sponsors has more than tripled since the bill was introduced, with strong support on both sides of the aisle. The Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) will continue to work to identify new co-sponsors to help enhance this groundbreaking effort.

This legislation will put prosthetic devices on par with other essential medical care covered by health insurance. We are excited to work with strong leaders like Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) on this important issue.

The ACA is also working to expand its advocacy efforts in order to continue to meet its members' needs. The ACA was recently part of an initiative to prevent Medicare rate cuts for orthotic and prosthetic benefits as part of the debate around competitive bidding and the 2008 Medicare Bill. We are also looking into the inconsistent regulations and distribution procedures for parking permits for people with disabilities and the impact this has on their ability to full participate in their communities.

The ACA is committed to making an impact on a full range of state and federal policies that impact the quality of life of amputees of every age throughout the United States.

Morgan Sheets is the national advocacy director for ACA's Action Plan for People with Limb Loss (APPLL) initiative. She can be reached at APPLL@amputee-coalition.org . For more information, visit www.amputee-coalition.org/advocacy/index.html