Amputees and Patient Advocates Go to Washington

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By Morgan Sheets

On Tuesday, March 10, the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), along with nearly 200 amputees and patient advocates from 34 states, converged on Washington DC to urge members of Congress to support fair insurance coverage for artificial arms and legs.

Many of the participants have stories of fighting with insurance companies to try to get the prosthetic devices they need to work and live. The ACA is working to turn this tide, and this event is a great example of the grassroots support we have from across the country to do so. 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, a bilateral lower-limb amputee and a member of the ACA Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Committee, spoke at a press conference as part of the day of lobbying. Being able to have prosthetic devices means that he can take care of his patients and teach medical students. 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.

Richard 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 four-year-old daughter Jennifer was born missing part of her arm below the elbow, and Castro knows that as she grows, she'll need several expensive prosthetic devices.

By the end of the day, citizen lobbyists had made more than 60 Senate visits and more than 100 House visits. In addition, 26 organizations, including disability rights groups and O&P professional organizations, have signed on with the ACA to help move this legislation forward.

The ACA is 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.

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