Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) with Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced a bill to require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study coverage for services related to the amputation of a limb. The bill directs the GAO to identify barriers to care, gaps in assessments and device prescriptions, and performance measures for timely coverage. It will also compare coverage, prevention, and return-to-work rates from the Medicare program, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the commercial health insurance market to provide credible, actionable data for policymakers to make informed decisions that will improve the lives of amputees.
“The loss of a limb can be a devastating and drastic life-changing occurrence and individuals with limb loss need and deserve access to quality care,” said Congressman Butterfield. “Despite recent advances in science and medical treatment in the United States of America, the rate of amputations has increased by 50% over the past decade. Diabetics alone undergo over 100,000 amputations each year, most of which occur in low-income and underserved communities. Numbers revealing significant racial disparities are especially alarming. The rate of Black patients with diabetes-related amputations is nearly twice that of whites. Among Medicare beneficiaries the lower-limb amputation rate of Blacks is nearly four times that of whites. And the rate of peripheral arterial disease in Blacks, which is a leading cause of limb loss, is nearly three times that of whites. It is imperative that the gaps and disparities in services rendered for amputees, including the possible prevention of loss of limbs, are studied and addressed in order to improve health equity and protect the quality of life for so many in need. I am glad to be joined in this effort by my colleague, Congressman Guthrie. This vital piece of legislation will improve the data available to Congress so we can best support the needs of amputees and help save limbs in preventable situations.”
“Millions of Americans are currently living with limb loss, and over 2,000 amputations are performed in Kentucky every year. Despite this, we still need more information regarding loss of limb services and amputations so we can ensure these patients receive the best care possible,” said Congressman Guthrie. “I was proud to join with Congressman Butterfield to introduce this bipartisan, commonsense bill to direct the GAO to publish more information related to limb loss. With the data from this bill, we can better care for amputees and enhance services available to those experiencing limb loss.”
“On behalf of the 2.1 million Americans living with limb loss and limb difference and the 28 million more at risk, we thank Representatives Butterfield and Guthrie for introduction of this legislation,” said Mary Richards, President and CEO of the Amputee Coalition. “The Triple A Study Act will identify the best care practices for people living with limb loss or limb difference so they can be replicated across health systems, which will improve health outcomes for our community.”