On August 25th I left my home in Quincy Illinois to head to Linthicum, Maryland to attend a Medicare hearing on a LCD of Durable Medical Equipment for Lower Limb Prostheses. The hearing was set for the 26th from 10:00 till 1:00 and we were informed, if we had previously registered to speak, we would only have 3 minutes to get our point across. 3 minutes to tell how taking away our legs, feet, knees and current suspensions systems will all but take our livelihoods away. It may be a small amount of time but I feel at least we WERE given time to tell our sides of the story at this public hearing.
This draft is very scary and we all need as amputees, family, friends, and any concerned citizen to make our voices heard on this matter. For example, the entire prosthetic leg I wear will no longer be available to me if this proposal goes through. I walk with a cane (because of a very short residual limb) which would bump me down from a K3 to a K2 automatically. I wear elevated vacuum to keep my device on and that is being eliminated totally as not being "medically necessary". Medicare is saying that there is "insufficient published clinical evidence to support claims of an improved gait". Well I can prove them wrong. With my elevated vacuum I walked at the rally against this proposal in D.C. on Independence Ave. (ironic name since we are fighting for our Independence) for 3 hours and had my leg on for a total of 16 hours. I had only one small red spot that was gone the next day. I never could of done that before being fitted with this type of suspension. Medicare wants to throw us back to the prosthetic technology of the 1970's in what we will be able to walk, work, play and live in. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! We have worked hard to use the new and wonderful technology that is available to us, and we have achieved more of a normal life and gained a sense of health and freedom like never before.
I presented my story at the hearing as a single, older person that lives a very independent life that keeps her grandkids for many days at a time, travels often to see the world, attends classes to finish my Bachelor degree in Psychology and Theology, and stays very active in the community. I love my life and to be told I don't have "potential" for a K3 limb because I walk with a cane is ludicrous! I walk with a cane because I barely have a limb on my right side to walk with!
I am happy to say that our efforts were heard and while we were are at the rally, marching for our rights at the Health and Human Services Building, a special meeting was held there at 4:00pm for the Amputee Coalition CEO and board members, the CEO of AOPA (who organized the rally) and NAAOP, and a few others that were there with the facts and figures supporting us. When they returned they said, "We had been heard and there will be a review of the draft." We were heard but even more important WE WERE SEEN! It was a day for the history books and we proved we are no longer a group of people that will sit back and be accepted as a lesser citizen. This family of amputees worked together and walked together and we showed Washington, D.C. that we will do what it takes to keep our lives moving forward. I felt honored to be there, participate, and see this in action.