Insurance Fairness for Amputees

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The phrase "prosthetic parity" has come to define a central legislative initiative that the Amputee Coalition and our friends and partners have promoted for several years. Many of you are familiar with "prosthetic parity," and you may be aware that the Amputee Coalition has successfully worked with advocates and partners across the country on this important issue. Together, we have passed "prosthetic parity" laws in 19 states. On the federal level, we have introduced a bill in the United States House and Senate during each of the past three legislative cycles.

After much discussion with our advocates, partners, and legislators, we have decided to replace the term "prosthetic parity" with a more accurate and clear name: "Insurance Fairness for Amputees." Although this may appear to be only a matter of semantics, there are important reasons why we are making this change.

The phrase "prosthetic parity" can have a negative connotation with some legislators. For them, the term "parity" can bring up concerns of increasing healthcare costs, as other bills with similar titles have done in the past. One reason to remove the parity language from the dialogue is that our legislation has minimal impact on premiums (about 12 cents per member per year). Some states have even found that it can save them money! The minimal cost impact and savings are the messages we want to send to legislators. If we continue to use the term "parity," it may be more difficult to focus on those messages in the current political climate.

In addition, "prosthetic parity" can be confusing in that it doesn't clearly lay out the issue we are trying to address. Yes, "prosthetic parity" boils down to prosthetic equality-but equality for what exactly? Many legislators may understand the phrase, and many of you who have been involved in this legislative eff ort know what it means. But if you ask a stranger on the street what "prosthetic parity" means, the question is bound to be met with questions or confusion.

"Insurance Fairness for Amputees" has been adopted to eliminate the confusion that the "parity" language may create. "Insurance Fairness for Amputees" clearly defines the issue (insurance fairness) and the specific population that the bill affects (amputees). In addition to these advantages, defining the population provides us an opportunity to center our message on individual amputees, rather than on prosthetic devices. It allows us to focus on individual stories in our messaging rather than presenting our opponents with an opportunity to target the cost of prosthetic devices.

When speaking about this legislative initiative, the Amputee Coalition strongly urges you to discontinue using "prosthetic parity" and instead use the new phrase, which is now the federal bill named: "Insurance Fairness for Amputees."

-Dan Ignaszewski,
Amputee Coalition Government Relations Coordinator