Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley has signed into law a prosthetic parity bill that will require insurers to provide meaningful coverage for prosthetic devices and better care for people with limb loss by creating a consistent standard for prosthetic benefits. It removes special caps and exemptions placed on prosthetic and orthopedic care that made these services cost prohibitive for many individuals.
“Unfortunately, many amputees have nightmarish stories of fighting with insurance companies to try to get the prosthetic devices they need to simply work and live,” explained Kendra Calhoun, president and CEO of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA). “People pay their monthly health insurance premiums and expect their coverage to take care of catastrophic situations like losing a limb. This is the very reason people purchase health insurance.”
House bill (HB) 579—now the Prosthetic Parity Act—was introduced by Delegate Heather R. Mizeur (D-MD) with 24 cosponsors. It was passed by a vote of 127-8 on March 25. Senate bill (SB) 341 was introduced by Senator Catherine E. Pugh (D-MD) with 16 cosponsors. It was passed by a vote of 41-2 on March 20. Sponsorship of the bills was highly bipartisan, according to the ACA.
Five states—Maryland, Iowa, Arkansas, Virginia, and Texas—have passed prosthetic parity legislation this year. These states join the 11 others—California, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont—that had already enacted parity laws.
The ACA is now working with activists throughout the country to advance similar state legislation. Additionally, the nonprofit organization is working to get a federal prosthetic parity bill re-introduced in the 111th Congress.