By Ryan Geddie, Government Relations Specialist
April is rapidly approaching, which means it’s almost Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month. This April, the Amputee Coalition will be leveraging the increased visibility of the limb loss and limb difference community to engage in important advocacy work. Whether you are planning to join us in D.C. at our Advocacy Forum from April 16-19 or are simply looking for ways to transform your awareness-building efforts into advocacy, it’s important to understand the key policy priorities at the state and federal levels.
Many individuals living with limb loss or limb difference have experienced the frustration and pain of being denied a prosthesis that is acceptable for their functional and physical needs. That’s why, at the state level, the Amputee Coalition has been working closely with organizations such as the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association to advocate for and advance the So Kids Can Move Campaign. This campaign aims to increase access for amputees to prostheses designed for physical activity, because we believe your right to move shouldn’t be up for review by insurance companies. Legislation under the So Kids Can Move umbrella has been introduced in several states, and So New Mexicans Can Move, an age-neutral version of the legislation with an insurance fairness component, recently passed the statehouse without a single no vote.
At the federal level, we are invested in advancing legislation and a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on behalf of the limb loss and limb difference community. Proposed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), the EVAC Act would require the Federal Aviation Administration to establish airplane evacuation standards that better consider passengers with disabilities. This legislation will make airplane evacuation a safer experience for all travelers.
Two-thirds of Americans living with limb loss or limb difference never receive a prosthetic device. Understanding this and other disparities is at the center of our work with the GAO to study access barriers to assistive technologies including prosthetic devices. The original legislation that led to the GAO study request was the Triple A Study Act, sponsored by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Duckworth, along with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY). We are confident this study will shed much-needed light on the specific challenges that individuals who have received amputations or were born with limb differences face through their continuum of care, which will inform future legislative efforts by the Amputee Coalition.
The Amputee Coalition receives a grant from the Administration for Community Living to provide the National Limb Loss Resource Center (NLLRC). In a divided Congress, the Amputee Coalition seeks to secure funding for the NLLRC, an invaluable resource for community members, medical professionals, and families seeking information about all aspects of the limb loss and limb difference experience.
While these are the specific policy priorities we are devoted to advancing on behalf of the limb loss and limb difference community, the Amputee Coalition also engages with our partners and allies on issues including Medicare/Medicaid dual eligibility coverage, pain management, regulatory agency rulemaking, and developing strong grassroots advocacy networks.
To make progress on behalf of the amputee community, we need your help! This April, we hope that even if you do not join us at the Advocacy Forum you will take the opportunity to engage in advocacy by contacting your legislators and spreading awareness about the policy priorities of the limb loss and limb difference community.