The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) provided the following update about its “We the People” White House petition, which surpassed the 100,000 signature mark on August 17, and additional actions that need to be taken:
The petition, which calls for the Obama administration to “rescind the Medicare proposal restricting access to prosthetic limbs and returning amputees to 1970’s standards of care,” started [July 31] in response to a recently published draft Local Coverage Determination (LCD) for Lower Limb Prostheses that would profoundly affect access to care for individuals with amputations and restrict how and what prosthetists can do for their patients. Achievement of the 100,000 signatures requires the White House to formally respond to the petition’s rescission request.
“This is a significant achievement,” said NAAOP President David McGill, JD, who has an above-knee amputation himself. “100,000 signatures in only 17 days demonstrates that the public recognizes the major deficiencies of the draft LCD. Clearly, the restrictions on access to appropriate care resulting from this proposed policy resonate with amputees, the healthcare professionals who treat them, and the American public. NAAOP looks forward to the White House’s response.”
Peter Thomas, JD, general counsel for NAAOP and counsel to the O&P Alliance, a coalition of O&P organizations, noted that “the 40-page proposed LCD completely rewrites coverage, coding, and reimbursement policy for artificial legs in a way that will severely limit access to modern technology and standards of prosthetic care. As a bilateral below-knee amputee since age 10, I have witnessed modern prosthetic care become an American healthcare success story. The proposed LCD will relegate amputees like me to antiquated and less functional prostheses. It will turn back the clock on lower-limb amputees, who in recent years have achieved remarkable levels of health, function, activity, and independence,” he said.
Numerous organizations endorsed and promoted the petition, including the Amputee Coalition; the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association; the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists; the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics; the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC); the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education; as well as multiple organizations representing rehabilitation hospitals, physician organizations, and disability groups through a coalition known as the ITEM (Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid) Coalition.
“NAAOP helped coordinate efforts by designing a webpage at www.SaveProsthetics.org, which proved to be highly effective in educating the amputee, the prosthetic profession, and the general public about this issue,” said Paul Prusakowski, CPO/L, FAAOP, past president of NAAOP. “The site has a wealth of information on this proposed policy.”
George Breece, executive director of NAAOP, pointed out that “cracking the 100,000 signature mark is only the first step in a multipronged effort to get the draft LCD rescinded. While we’re gratified at the response to the petition, there are still a number of actions we need people to take in order to keep the momentum rolling and build on the petition’s success.”
Formal comments on the draft policy must be submitted to the government by the end of August and the Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractors (DME MACs) are holding a public meeting on August 26 to obtain comments about the proposed policy. “NAAOP intends to be highly engaged in these ongoing efforts,” Breece said. “Medicare patients paid all their lives to receive care when they need it. They deserve better than this policy allows in their time of need.”
“We encourage all members of the public who care about access to healthcare to submit comments to the Medicare contractors on this policy. The www.SaveProsthetics.org webpage has everything anyone needs to make this happen,” said Ashlie White, chair of NAAOP’s social media committee and a member of the NAAOP executive committee. “Anyone can find out more by linking to NAAOP’s Twitter [account] and Facebook page.”
“As a practicing prosthetist who treats amputees every day, I can attest to the absurdity of this proposed LCD and the furor it has set off in the amputee community,” said Jim Rogers, CPO and NAAOP vice president. “The policy ties the hands of prosthetists, physicians, and therapists in designing the optimal treatment plan for each individual patient and, thereby, does a disservice to Medicare beneficiaries and, eventually, all lower-limb amputees who use prostheses to function. The policy must be stopped in its tracks.”