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September, 2006 AST Newsletter

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

AST Chapters also in Lancaster and York

www.amputeesupportteam.com

“So others may benefit from us.”

Please visit our WEB Site (see above), kept updated by AST Director & WEB Master John Williamson.

September Elections: Based on our AST By-Laws, three AST members are up for either re-election, or replacement. They are: Richard Nickle, President, and Board Members: Gary Reinhold, and Tom O’Neil. See a voting Ballot on the last page of this Newsletter, complete it, and either mail it, or bring it to the AST Meeting on, Wednesday, September 20, 2006, 6:30 PM, which is the deadline for Ballots.

Kevin Carroll comes to town: Kevin Carroll, HANGER”S Vice President of Prosthetics, visited HANGER’s Harrisburg O&P Office on Wednesday, August 2, doing forty prosthetic evaluations, and the next day, going to HANGER’S York Office to do more prosthetic evaluations. Thank you to John Williamson, of HANGER and AST for providing refreshments.

Sean Bream, shown left, was the youngest AST Members who took advantage of getting an evaluation from Kevin Carroll, who many refer to as the “Guru of Prosthetics.” This was something of a reunion for Sean and Kevin, as their paths have crossed before.

View a video about our youngest AST member, Sean Brame, pictured above, you will be even more inspired. Turn up your sound and click on the following address: mms://video1.hmc.psu.edu/cmn/seanbramevideo.wmv

AST Meeting, Wednesday, September 20, 6:30 PM at HealthSouth in Mechanicsburg: Besides the annual election, the main focus of the meeting September 20 is Prosthetic Insurance PARITY in Pennsylvania. NOTE: If you have, or had, issues with your insurance in regard to coverage of your Prosthetic, and prosthetic care, let us know at AST ASAP.

To date, the AST has done the following things in regard to Prosthetic PARITY in Pennsylvania:

The AST recognizes what is at stake if insurance companies are allowed to continue to reduce coverage for prosthetics. This hurts people with limb loss and the companies that provide prosthetics. Payment caps and coverage reductions affect our ability to lead productive lives. They also impact prosthetic companies’ ability to provide the most appropriate device for each individual and put advanced technology out of reach for most consumers. .

In Colorado, support groups successfully supported their legislators in passing legislation requiring insurance companies in Colorado to cover prosthetics. The AST has worked to support this legislation throughout the process.

2. With the leadership of Nick Antonini and the ACA, House Bill 2718 was introduced on June 5th. It is presently in the Health and Human Services Committee.

If passed into law in Pennsylvania, HB 2718 will ensure that people receive the care they need to recover and live productive and comfortable lives.

3. The AST held an advertised area wide meeting, one of only four in Pennsylvania, on this

Subject, on Thursday, June 1, 2006. We invited Morgan Sheets, the ACA’s National Advocacy Director to speak to learn about HB 2718 and what they can do as individuals to let their legislators know that they support this important bill.




Morgan Sheets, a dynamic speaker, is shown her between Peter Calcagno, AST Director and Committee Co-Chairman, and Georgia Foltz, AST Co-Vice President, and both are Peer Visitors.

A Letter Writing Campaign was instituted and encouraged among our AST Member, who will most likely be the ones who suffer if the insurance companies have their way, and anyone else interested in our limb loss population, to support the passage of HB 2718. It is interesting to note that one of our newest limb loss members

was faced with an insurance cap on his very first prosthetic leg, which cost over a thousand dollars more than what the insurance company would allow. The leg in question was low tech and a very basic beginning prosthetic leg. This demonstrates the importance for continue action by the AST.
(NOTE: AST appreciates Morgan Sheets’ input in this section about Prosthetic Parity)

Presently, while the Pennsylvania Legislature is in recess, the AST was a part of one of several state wide tele-conferencing sessions focused on interim activities to support the bill. We are currently participating in a statewide drive to submit and publish letters to the editor in support of HB 2718.

We are looking at a possible committee hearing in the fall. If we are not able to get a hearing, the bill will be reintroduced in the House of Representative in January of 2007.

Meanwhile, we need to be writing letters in order to keep the momentum going behind this important bill. A sample letter is at the end of this Newsletter.

We also encourage all AST members and supporters to help spread the word. We are working with the ACA to collect petition signatures in support of the bill. All petitions will be sent to the ACA’s advocacy office. They will send copies of the petitions to the committee members after they return from the summer recess. They will also keep all of the signers informed.

NOTE: A petition is attached. It has 10 lines --- that means if you sign it you only have to find nine people to talk to about this important effort. Then you can just fax or mail it into the ACA and you have helped to educate others, build the list of supporters and advocate for the bill.

Our Spanish speaking connection: Don Hossler made a good suggestion that the AST connect with the Spanish Center located on 13th Street in Harrisburg. AST requested the ACA send Spanish and English versions of ACA materials, like the recent Spanish edition of ACA’s First Step Magazine, to the Latino Organization in center city Harrisburg. Richard Nickle, AST President, sent a letter to the Latino Center offering, along with Don Hossler, AST VP, both of us visit the Center when the ACA materials arrive to discuss AST and further outreach.

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Purpose

The purpose of your letter is to respond negatively or positively to an article or editorial that a newspaper, journal or magazine has printed on an issue important to you.

Uses

Write letters that respond to news coverage that is erroneous or different from your position. You can also use letters to express public support for a piece of legislation or local program.

-Don’t expect your letters to be printed every time.

Format

The most important issue should be in the first paragraph. State your case, add the facts or your personal story and wrap-up by re-stating the case. It is also good to include an action such as calling to support a bill or attending an event.

If your letter responds to an article or editorial printed in that paper, reference the title, date, and author of the original piece in the opening sentence.

Keep it short. Should be between 100-400 words, but the shorter it is, the more likely it is to be printed.

Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. You may want to check on the word limit before you submit the letter.

Make it legible. Your letter doesn't have to be fancy, but you should use a typewriter or computer word processor if your handwriting is difficult to read.

Send letters to weekly community newspapers too. The smaller the newspaper's circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.

Be sure to include your contact information. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.

Connect your letter to a local issue, person or recent article. There are many articles about legislators working on health care reform, about local soldiers coming home from combat and about the general push for access to care in this country. Reference a recent article and connect it to your issue. That makes it seem local and relevant to their readers.

Sample LETTER to the EDITOR letter on next page:

Dear Editor,

Over 1.8 million Americans are living with limb loss or limb deficiency as a result of disease, trauma or birth defect. 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 are facing discouraging obstacles when trying to obtain prosthetic care.
That is why Rep. Bernie O’Neil introduced HB 2718, a bill to require prosthetic coverage. The bill already has over 30 co-sponsors and the strong support of people throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

The biggest concern anybody has about passing a new mandate is cost. People fear that increasing the cost of insurance will reduce access to health care, but the data has shown that prosthetic parity actually results in a savings in medical costs.

The provision of prostheses results in a variety of benefits, some of which are fiscal in nature; some of which are more related to quality of life issues such as a reduction in the secondary conditions caused by a sedentary lifestyle and the ability to lead productive lives.

The financial and social benefits provide a strong case for coverage. HB 2718 is currently awaiting a hearing in the Health & Human Services Committee. I urge people to contact their legislators to push for a hearing on this important bill.

Sincerely,

Your Name, Address, Phone, E-mail

Send letters also to our legislatures, in particular, members of the Health and Humans Services Committee shown below, which sponsored HB 2718:

Health and Human Services
(Top of Document)

Majority (Room 108 ROB)

Kenney, Jr., George T., Chairman
True, Katie , Secretary
Benninghoff, Kerry A., Subcommittee Chairman on Human Services
Mackereth, Beverly , Subcommittee Chairman on Drugs and Alcohol
McIlhattan, Fred , Subcommittee Chairman on Health

Cornell, Susan E.
Diven, Michael
Fichter, John W.
Fleagle, Patrick Elvin
Gingrich, Mauree A.
Harhart, Julie
Maitland, Stephen R.
Reichley, Douglas G.
Ross, Chris
Sonney, Curtis G.
Watson, Katharine M.

Minority (Room 34 EW)

Oliver, Frank L., Chairman
Myers, John , Secretary
Bebko-Jones, Linda , Subcommittee Chairman on Drugs and Alcohol
Bishop, Louise Williams, Subcommittee Chairman on Human Services
Wheatley, Jr., Jake , Subcommittee Chairman on Health

Eachus, Todd A.
James, Harold
Kirkland, Thaddeus
Kotik, Nick
Lederer, Marie A.
Manderino, Kathy M.
Waters, Ronald G.

Here are a few addresses to get you started:

Hon. George T. Kenney, Jr. Room 108
Ryan Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Fax: (717) 787-4810

Hon. Frank L. Oliver
34 East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Fax: (717) 783-0684

Hon. Douglas G. Reichley
5 East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
(717) 787-1000

Hon. Todd A. Eachus
Room 105 East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Marie A. Lederer
226 Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020


Hon. Fred McIlhattan
East Wing, Room 18
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Fax: (717) 783-8631

Hon. Katie True
143A East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Chris Ross
Room B13 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Harold James
107 Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Kathy M. Manderino
103A East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Susan E. Cornell
34 S. York Road
Hatboro, PA 19040
Fax: (215) 674-3021

Hon. John Myers
305 Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Fax: (717) 772-4038

Hon. Curtis G. Sonney
149B East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Thaddeus Kirkland
320 Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Ronald G. Waters
103 Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020


Hon. Stephen R. Maitland
400 Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Fax: (717) 772-5499

Hon. Beverly Mackereth
52B East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Fax: (717) 772-9869

Hon. Katharine M. Watson
159A East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Nick Kotik
28B East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Hon. Linda Bebko-Jones
Room 113
Irvis Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020


Sample Prosthetic Parity Letter to a Legislator:

Dear Representative ____,

I am writing in response to HB 2718, a bill for prosthetic coverage.
Without legislation to ensure coverage, many people living with the loss or
absence of a limb are facing discouraging obstacles when trying to obtain
prosthetic care. That is why this bill is so important!

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 health care. None of us want to see health insurance costs pushed beyond the reach of the average consumer. Our best financial data comes from Colorado. They were the first state to pass prostheticparity legislation in 1998.

A Department of Health Care Policy & Financing report found that the maximum increase in premiums for prosthetic provision would be about 12 cents per month. That is less than $1.50 per year. That is not going to push anyone off the insurance rolls or put anyone out of business. It will, however, get people the care they need to get back to work and live independent, productive lives.

I am writing to urge the Health & Human Services committee to hold a public hearing for HB 2718 in order to allow you the opportunity to hear from Pennsylvanians about this important bill.

Sincerely,
Name, Address, Phone

-------------------- cut here on dotted line------------------

AST 2006 VOTING BALLOT:

Three AST Officers are slated for re-election or replacement this year, 2006, they are: Richard Nickle, President; and Board Members: Chad Kettler; and Tom O’Neil.

You may vote to retain all three, or vote only for the ones you want to retain. You may also write-in a vote, but may only vote for a total of three persons, including a write-in:

You may either bring your completed Ballot to the AST Meeting on Thursday, September 20, or mail it to Don Hossler at, deadline is September 20, 2006:

Don Hosler

501 Vine Street

Middletown, PA 17057

-------------------- cut here on dotted line------------------

AST Meeting, Wednesday, October 18, 6:30 PM:

Part I: Andrew Lipman, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Presenter: How can OVR help if your disability presents a substantial impediment to employment, and living a productive life.

Part II: Chad Kettler, HealthSouth, Presenter: Watch yourself on video walk, turn, and have your gait evaluated, with suggestions on how to improve your walking wearing a prosthesis


   

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