of Central Pennsylvania

May 2007 AST Newsletter

AST is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit limb loss support group. 

With AST Chapters in Lancaster and Berks County

www.amputeesupportteam.com 

“So others may benefit from us.”

 

 

 

 

PA Prosthetic Parity Rally at the State Capitol was a Success:

 

The Prosthetic Parity Rally at the PA State Capitol on Tuesday, April 24 was a full day of excitement, human interest, and a clinic from some PA House Representative on how representative government works. The members of the ACA, AST, and amputees from around the State of PA, had the opportunity to speak at the 2 PM Press Conference, or were members of groups who visited different PA Representatives to plead the need for the support of Prosthetic Parity in PA.  By supporting PA HB 317, and it's eventual passage into law, will result in Prosthetic Parity in PA. PA HB 317, Prosthetic Parity will make it possible for persons of limb loss to recover and return to a life of work and play. Some American soldiers returning home as amputees from Iraq, have been able to continue with their military careers, and in some cases, able to return to their units, because the government has covered prosthetics with a Parity we would like everyone to enjoy from their insurance.

L- R: Rep. Bernie O"Neill; Dr. John Rush, HANGER; Georgia Foltz, AST Speaker;

Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia), Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming),

Rep. Nick Kotik (D-Allegheny), Rep. Fred McIlhattan (R-Clarion/Armstrong),

Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin), Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) , Sean Brame, speaker;

Garry Moore, speaker; Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery).

 

 

 

Ten year old Sean Brame, who has two prosthetic legs, and a prosthetic arm, addresses the HB 317 Rally about the many persons of limb loss in Pennsylvania, who have limited, or no insurance coverage for prosthetics. There is also a concern for young people like Sean, as to paying for prosthetics when they turn eighteen and are no longer under their parent's health insurance. Pictured here is Rep. Bernie O'Neill, helping Sean hold his speech. Rep. O'Neill was the original sponsor of the Prosthetic Parity bill last year, and now has over forty co-sponsors.

 

AST Meeting Schedule:

 

This is the schedule for our AST 6:30 PM Wednesday Meetings through the rest of this calendar year at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Mechanicsburg, except for the July 26* AST Meeting, which will be held on a Thursday at HealthSouth Outpatient Facility on Front Street in Wormleysburg:

 

6:30 PM, Wednesday, May 16

"Sharing and Learning from Each Other."

Bring with you to this meeting, at least one, or two helpful

ideas you would like to share with the rest of us.

 

6:30 PM, Thursday, July 26, Pick Nick on the Patio

Return of Rod Shield’s Green Mountain Porch Pickers Blue Grass Band

 

6:30 PM, Wednesday, September 19

 

6:30 PM, Wednesday, November 14 Holiday Program

 

 

http://www.amputee-coalition.org/aca_advocacy.html

 

See the next page for what you can do to help support Prosthetic Parity:

We recently received indication that Rep. Anthony DeLuca will be putting HB 317 up for a vote in the House Insurance Committee.  This is our chance to get this bill onto the floor and keep it moving.  Please, take action today to ensure that this important bill is passed out of committee and through the House!

 

Act now!  Contact the House Insurance Committee today!  Make a call, send a letter or write an e-mail.  They need to hear that this bill is important to the people of Pennsylvania!

 

Sample Letter to Legislators in a State With a Bill in Progress

Dear Representative/Senator _________,

I am writing in response to [bill #], a bill for prosthetic coverage. In return for premiums paid for group health insurance, consumers expect to be covered for catastrophic illness or injury. Sadly, without legislation to ensure coverage, many people living with the loss or absence of a limb face discouraging obstacles when trying to obtain prosthetic care. Current changes in insurance plans are having a devastating effect on amputees and their families.

For example, companies will pay the surgical cost of amputating a limb, and for subsequent amputations caused by inactivity, while simultaneously limiting or even eliminating prosthetic coverage. Other payers impose such unrealistic annual and lifetime caps on prosthetic coverage that people with limb loss are unable to obtain prostheses.

When people discover that prosthetic care isn’t covered, they may be forced to use retirement or children’s college savings to buy a prosthesis to keep working. Some take out home mortgages, bank loans, or even use high interest credit cards to get the prosthesis they need.

Obviously, the biggest concern anybody has about passing a new mandate is cost. People fear that big jumps in the cost of insurance will reduce access to healthcare. None of us want to see health insurance costs pushed beyond the reach of the average consumer. In actuality, the public sector would see savings because appropriate private insurance coverage prevents shifting costs to the public sector. Our best financial data to support this comes from Colorado. They were the first state to pass prosthetic parity legislation in 1998.

A Department of Health Care Policy and Financing report indicated the maximum increase in premiums for prosthetic provision would be 12 cents per member per month. This estimate didn’t take into account that there would also be a cost savings by both the private and public sector. In the first year of implementation, covering prosthetics and rthotics resulted in a net savings of almost half a million dollars. These savings were for medical expenses only.

The provision of prostheses results in a variety of benefits, some of which are fiscal in nature, while others are related to quality of life issues, which are less measurable. Non-fiscal benefits include a reduction in the secondary conditions caused by a sedentary lifestyle, less dependence on caregivers, and lowered risk of diabetes-related complications leading to additional amputation. In addition, this segment of the population can continue to be contributing members of society instead of becoming dependent on it.

Both the financial and social benefits provide a strong case for prosthetic coverage. I urge you to support [Bill #].

Sincerely,

Your Name, Address, Phone, E-mail

 

Next Page for who to send your letter to:

 

Here are the links to each member of the committee.  If you can take just a few minutes, write to the leadership of the committee.  Or take a little extra time and contact the entire committee.  Just make sure to take action today!

 

 

Making a Call: A phone call really makes a big difference.  Chances are you will be leaving a message with a member of their staff.  It is fast and easy!

 

Sample call/message:  My name is _____.  I am from _____ (city), PA.  I am calling to urge Representative ___ to support House Bill 317, the prosthetic parity bill. Please, give this bill its day on the floor!

 

Please, make a call or send a letter today! Be sure to get your friends and family involved, too!

 

2007 ACA Annual Conference: June 15-17, Atlanta, Georgia

REMINDER: If the support group you attend is an ACA member support group, you and all members of your support group may register at the reduced support group member rate. Early Bird registration (on or before May 15) is $225 for members and $350 for nonmembers. That is a savings of $125!

 

Register now and beat the deadline of the early-bird special, which is May 15, 2007

For more information about the ACA Conference, see pages 40-41 in the January-February InMotion Magazine, or go to the ACA WEB Page at:   www.amputee-coalition.org

 

PALS – Promoting Amputee Life Skills: If you are a limb loss person – an amputee, you are invited to participate in a nationally tested Interactive program where you will learn to manage your “disability” and improve the quality of your life, and the lives of the people around you. PALS Classes are each Monday evening for nine weeks, and begin on Monday, September 17 to Monday, November 12 from 6 PM to 8:15 PM. The first five Mondays are at HealthSouth in Mechanicsburg, and the last four at Pinnacle Health’s Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital at the Union Deposit Exit in Harrisburg. To register, contact Susan Tipton, ACA, at: 1-888-267-5669, ext. 8132. For information, and directions:   Don Hossler at 717-944-2250 /  dehoss@paonline.com  or Dick Nickle at 717-258-6849 / dicknickle@aol.com

 

Amputees Rally Support for Insurance Parity

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Legislation encourages insurance companies to remove limits for prosthetics

 

Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) today rallied support for legislation he has introduced to remove limits in health care insurance coverage for prosthetic devices. The rally, held at the state Capitol, included stories of amputees, testimony from medical professionals and support from O’Neill’s colleagues in the state House. Pictured with him (from left) were: Rep. Fred McIlhattan (R-Clarion/Armstrong); Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin); Morgan Sheets, national advocacy director of the Amputee Coalition of America; Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks); and Sean Brame, an 11-year-old amputee from York County.

Several dozen amputees and their families joined Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) and the Amputee Coalition of America to rally support at the Capitol for legislation removing limits in health care insurance coverage for prosthetic devices.

 

“People who have lost a limb – due to an illness or accident – have a new lease on life with the modern advances in the field of prosthetics,” O’Neill said. “In addition to the challenges they face learning to live with their disability, they may face significant financial hardships that come with the costs of prosthetics, fittings and therapy.”

 

Currently, coverage varies among health insurance companies that sometime evaluate coverage on a case-by-case basis. Many insurance companies in Pennsylvania set a cap of a few thousand dollars for prosthetic devices, fittings and therapy, and a few companies limit an amputee to one prosthetic in a lifetime. Without adequate coverage, an amputee may face thousands of dollars in costs.

 

“We have hundreds of positive stories of inspirational people who are living fulfilling lives with their prosthetic devices. We just need to make it easier for them to get this much-needed equipment,” he said.

 

O’Neill’s legislation, House Bill 317, would provide consistency for insurance companies to provide coverage – or in some cases offer reimbursement – for prosthetic devices by removing the use of annual or lifetime caps on prosthetic services.

 

“In return for premiums paid for group health insurance, consumers expect to be covered for catastrophic illness or injury. Sadly, without legislation to ensure coverage, many insurers are curtailing, or even eliminating coverage that people expect to be there in the tragic event of limb loss,” said Morgan Sheets of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA).

 

The Bucks County lawmaker noted that many major health insurance plans already pick up at least some of the cost for members who need artificial limbs, but this would set a standard for insurance coverage across the Commonwealth. Individuals would still be responsible for co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles.

 

But without legislation to ensure coverage, many insurers are curtailing, or even eliminating coverage that people expect to be there in the tragic event of limb loss.

 

On hand for the press conference were three amputees from Central Pennsylvania, including Sean Brame, a fifth-grader from York County who lost both legs and an arm from a near-fatal infection after a sports injury. Amputees Georgia Foltz of Duncannon, Perry County, and Garry Moore from Reading, Berks County, are both active in the fight for insurance parity and spoke at the event. Dr. John Rush of the Hanger Orthopedic Group also participated.

 

“This legislation would have a tremendous impact on young people like Sean who, as they grow into adulthood, will need more than one prosthetic,” O’Neill said. “There must be fairness in the law to allow for amputees to live a fulfilling quality of life.”

 

The legislation, which has 50 cosponsors from both Republican and Democrat sides, has been referred to the House Insurance Committee for review. Six other states – Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and California – have already passed similar legislation, and 24 others, including Pennsylvania, are pushing for prosthetic parity.

 Rep. Bernie O’Neill
29th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(215) 441-2624

(717) 705-7170

Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton

House Republican Public Relations

(717) 705-2094

Member site:  RepONeill.com

Caucus site: PAHouseGOP.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 24, 2007

 

Amputees Rally for Insurance Parity

On April 24, 2007, several dozen amputees and their families joined Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) and the Amputee Coalition of America to rally support at the Capitol for legislation removing limits in health care insurance coverage for prosthetic devices.  Listed below are pictures from the event.  Please click here for further information on this rally.

 

For a real treat, copy and paste Almasalsera.wmv into your Browser Bar at the top and click on GO. Then view the video.

 

Thank you to Mrs. Jan Zink, and her South Middleton High School Life Skills Class for putting our Newsletter together.