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Groups say Medicare rule changes unfairly target amputees

Many people living with disabilities are unable to work because of their condition. When this occurs, they may turn to government benefits programs specifically designed for people whose income is affected by their disability. Programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are the two we talk about the most on our blog, but there are other assistance programs out there.

Take for example Medicare. Did you know that if you are disabled, under the age of 65 and are currently receiving Social Security benefits then you automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B benefits? Much like SSI and SSDI, Medicare benefits help offset medical costs associated with treatments for a disabling condition. Without these benefits, those who have been forced out of a job because of their condition often struggle to pay their medical bills and suffer financially as a result.

Because of Medicare's importance to so many beneficiaries, two groups have raised concerns about potential Medicare rule changes that appear to unfairly target amputees. The two groups, the Amputee Coalition and the American Orthotic Prosthetic Association, had issue with four major changes:

  • The definition of the rehabilitation process was changed in a way that might require amputees to "use out-of-date prosthetics that do not conform to their needs;"
  • Amputees who are already using canes, walkers or other assistance devices could be forced to use less functional prosthetics;
  • Prosthetics could be denied to an amputee who has existing health conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure;
  • A prosthetic that does not provide the "appearance of a natural gait" could disqualify a person from receiving a particular prosthetic.

Though the Medicare rule changes are only suggestions at this time, the concern is that they could become permanent, which could have a negative effect on those with mobility issues due to an amputation. Only time will tell if this becomes the case and whether the two groups we mentioned above will fight for the rights of amputees everywhere.

Sources: The United Press International, "New Medicare rule may make it harder for amputees to get prosthetics," Stephen Feller, Aug. 26, 2015

Medicare.gov, "You may get Part A & Part B automatically if you have a disability," Accessed Aug. 27, 2015

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