WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation along with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to improve health outcomes for individuals living with limb loss or limb differences. The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.).
“Americans living with limb loss and limb differences should have access to the appropriate prosthetics,” said Senator Blackburn. “We need a better understanding of how many Americans lack access to prosthetics and how it affects their return to the workforce. I’m glad to have Senator Duckworth along with Representatives Butterfield and Guthrie join me in introducing this bipartisan legislation.”
“Americans with limb loss and limb difference face unique challenges in accessing optimal assistive technologies that could greatly enhance quality of life and strengthen independence,” said Senator Duckworth. “This bipartisan bill I’m re-introducing with Senator Blackburn and Representative Butterfield would make sure Congress receives a rigorous review of current practices as well as a set of recommendations on how we can improve patient access to the most effective assistive technologies, particularly prosthetic devices.”
“In Kentucky alone, there are more than 2,000 amputation procedures each year,” said Congressman Guthrie. “Despite the number of Americans with limb loss, there needs to be a better understanding on barriers to care and factors that impact patient outcomes. This bipartisan and bicameral bill would result in a GAO study to examine these issues with amputation and limb health care services. Information from this study could be used to help develop policy and establish best practices to reduce health care disparities and ensure that all patients are receiving quality care. I’m pleased to join Representative Butterfield, Senator Blackburn, and Senator Duckworth in reintroducing this bill with the goal of improving the quality of life of patients and preventing limb loss.”
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, most of which occur in low-income and underserved communities,” said Congressman Butterfield. “It is imperative that the gaps and disparities in services rendered for amputees are studied and addressed in order to improve health equity and protect the quality of life for so many in need. I am proud to introduce this vital piece of bipartisan, bicameral legislation with my colleagues Representative Guthrie and Senators Blackburn and Duckworth. This important bill will improve the data available to Congress so we can best support the needs of amputees and help prevent limb loss.”
The Triple A Study Act directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study barriers to care for assistive technologies, including prosthetic devices, and evaluate how those affect patient outcomes by comparing results across Medicare, the VA, and private insurers. It examines specific challenges, such as how often people are denied coverage, as well as outcomes, including whether patients can return to work. Areas to be explored include (but are not limited to):
- Access to care
- Patient education
- Timelines for assessments for surgery and access to assistive devices
- Coverage denials and overturn rates
- Reductions in falls and secondary complications, such as diabetes and vascular disease
Two-thirds of the 2.1 million Americans living with limb loss or limb difference never receive a prosthetic device, and little analysis exists to explain how those decisions are made or if individuals are getting the access to care they need. The information that does exist is difficult to compare across providers.