Fixing a Broken System
COALITION DEDICATES ITSELF TO CREATING ACTIONABLE SOLUTIONS
By Ashlie White, Chief Programs Officer
Healthcare is a complicated system to navigate for any person, but for people living with limb loss or limb difference additional barriers to access can make it seem like an insurmountable task just to get the care needed to survive and thrive.
Every individual who shares a story of challenges while trying to access healthcare services is creating opportunity for change. Woven together, individual stories become a tapestry, revealing a picture of a broken system, full of disparities and inequities, that must be fixed.
The government relations team at the Amputee Coalition is dedicated to creating actionable solutions to address the broken system, to improve access to care for our community, and to reduce health inequities and disparities in underserved communities.
Through the recent launch of So Kids Can Move, an initiative to increase access to prostheses designed for physical activity by making them medically necessary for purposes of insurance coverage, the Coalition has partnered with the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists to bring this effort to states across the U.S.
To bolster its capability and impact at the federal level, the Coalition serves on several councils, committees, and task forces designed to bring partners together to work toward common health policy and healthcare goals. One of these is the National Health Council, through which the Coalition collaborates with many other patient advocacy organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, and Mental Health America.
Through these collaborations, the Coalition can learn from the successes and failures of other organizations and join forces with a unified voice to support initiatives that benefit shared populations represented by multiple organizations. Power in numbers is not just a saying; it is a reality, especially when it comes to politics.
The Amputee Coalition’s most recent visit to Capitol Hill provided an opportunity to discuss a range of issues facing our community, including growing concerns about antimicrobial resistance, when bacteria or fungi develop the ability to defeat the pharmaceuticals designed to kill them, and the efforts to prevent resistant infections.
The team discussed concerns about healthcare disparities present across the U.S. in Black and Brown communities where there is a lack of access to early interventions for complications resulting from diabetes, including peripheral artery disease, that if treated could prevent amputations.
The Coalition also emphasized the need for Congress to address inconsistencies in the continuum of care for people experiencing limb loss, specifically the importance of timely access to rehabilitation and prosthetic care following an amputation. This issue has been the focal point of Coalition congressional champions over the past few years.
In these polarizing times, it is worth celebrating the collaboration on Capitol Hill in support of our community. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Marsha Blackburn do not have much in common as legislators, but they share a unified voice when pushing for better access to healthcare for people living with limb loss and limb difference.
When we met with Sen. Bob Casey’s office, it was clear he was also eager to participate in this important work. Sen. Blackburn welcomed his support, which is especially influential because of his role as chairman of the Special Committee on Aging.
Joined by longtime champions in the House, Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Brett Guthrie, the bicameral, bipartisan effort and subsequent direct request to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) underscore the need to identify, through healthcare data, health disparities within the limb loss and limb difference population and the root causes of those disparities.
During the first week of December, the Coalition was excited to learn that the GAO study requested by its congressional champions is finally underway. The Coalition’s hope is that the results of this study will create pathways for the introduction of new legislation in 2023.
With a new congressional session beginning, now is the time for a new call to action. Yes, this is YOUR call to action. Raising awareness about the challenges facing the limb loss and limb difference community requires UNITY in message; it requires us all to show up and share our stories, to weave the tapestry, and to reveal the full picture. Please consider these next steps:
- Tell us: Let the Amputee Coalition know when you experience a health access challenge by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Share your story: Stories of successes and challenges help us weave the tapestry.
- Attend the Advocacy Forum: If you can travel, consider attending the new and improved forum April 16-19.