WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Amputee Coalition of America and the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association today announced that Senators Tom Harkin and Olympia J. Snowe and Representatives Robert E. Andrews, George Miller, and Lincoln Diaz-Balart are recipients of their joint organizations' 2009 Legislative Appreciation Awards.
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The awards are being presented today at a mini-Hill Day event, with more than 40 amputees and advocates from around the country also visiting Capitol Hill to make specific recommendations to Congress for the inclusion of prosthetic arms and legs in the national healthcare reform legislation.
"For their commitment, dedication and service to ensuring quality healthcare for amputees and their effort to make certain that fair insurance coverage is available for prosthetic arms and legs, we are proud to present these awards as a token of our appreciation to these members of Congress," said Kendra Calhoun, Amputee Coalition president and CEO. Calhoun emphasized that healthcare for amputees needs fair consideration in any healthcare reform proposal. "Amputees are no longer a hidden part of our society, and they need to be heard in the healthcare debate. This is the message they will carry to Capitol Hill today."
The Amputee Coalition and other disability groups have heralded the inclusion in the healthcare reform bills of guaranteed issue and renewal of coverage in the individual and small group markets, the prohibition of pre-existing health condition exclusions, and the end of annual and lifetime insurance caps, with a limit on out-of-pocket spending. According to Calhoun, amputees also want a guarantee that they will have fair access to arms and legs.
In May, Rep. Robert E. Andrews introduced the "Prosthetic and Custom Orthotic Parity Act of 2009" (H.R. 2575), which would require employer-paid health plans to provide coverage for prosthetic and custom-fabricated orthotic devices on par with the coverage offered for other medical and surgical services. Sens. Harkin and Snowe co-sponsored a similar prosthetic parity bill in the Senate in 2008 and are working on introducing a new one this year. Reps. Miller and Diaz-Balart also signed onto the House bill as lead sponsors.
"At a time when healthcare costs are rising by about 7 percent annually, the financial hardship on those in need of prosthetic devices is devastating," said Rep. Andrews. "Yet, by expanding coverage for prosthetic devices so that it is on par with other types of essential care, not only will amputees receive necessary treatment and experience better quality of life, but the healthcare industry as a whole will save money. Since prosthetics often dramatically decrease secondary health problems for those in need, the benefits of this coverage far outweigh the costs in the long run."
Though 17 states have passed similar prosthetic parity laws, amputee advocates still say that there needs to be a national law.
"These state laws have helped many people," said Tom Fise, American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association executive director, "but they are not enough. Without a federal law, there will always be amputees who fall through the cracks."
The awards ceremony for House members will be held at 9 a.m. today in the Rayburn House Office Building (Room B-318). The ceremony for Senate members will be held at noon in the Capitol Visitor Center (Room SVC 214).
About the Amputee Coalition of America
The Amputee Coalition is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is "to reach out to and empower people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention." The organization is based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has an advocacy staff in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the Amputee Coalition's prosthetic parity Web page at www.armsandlegsarenotaluxury.com or call 888/267-5669.
About the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA)
AOPA, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to helping orthotic and prosthetic businesses and professionals navigate the multitude of issues surrounding the delivery of quality patient care. This year, the association celebrates the 92nd anniversary of its founding in 1917, when the needs of returning veterans in the aftermath of World War I required a national organization to address the educational and research needs of the industry. For more information, visit the AOPA Web site at www.aopanet.org or call 571/431-0876.
|SOURCE The American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association|
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