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Medicare proposal to limit amputees with prosthetics

Posted August 12, 2015
Updated August 17, 2015

Medicare is making a proposal that would deny access to many people who need prosthetic limbs.

The proposal, made on July 16 by four durable medical equipment Medicare administrative contractors, would make it more difficult for amputees to get their prosthetic limbs covered. Crutches, walkers and wheelchairs may be a patient’s only option if the proposal passes.

The goal of Medicare is to save money and eliminate fraud, but patients who rely on prosthetic limbs for their quality of life said the new proposal would limit their day-to-day activities.

North Carolina Orthotics and Prosthetics builds limbs for and fits about 120 patients across the state a year to allow them to function normally and live independently.

If the Medicare proposal passes, many of their clients would be denied coverage for prosthetics that average $20,000 to $40,000 apiece.

In 2001, Stella Sieber's life changed forever when she stopped to help a driver injured in an accident.

"Driver hit the back of my car,” Sieber said. “It made me an instant above the knee amputee.”

Because of her artificial limbs, Sieber, a scientific researcher, walks, drives and lives independently.

Sieber is leading the charge to prevent the new Medicare plan.

“These simple things that help me function and do my daily activity … I would be denied,” Sieber said. “And these simple things to replace would cost between $35,000 and $40,000.”

Logan Aldridge received an artificial limb after losing his arm in a boating accident when he was 13-years-old.

“It's troublesome to me to think that that someone would be told that they cannot have a standard of living that everyone in this world should be capable of,” Aldridge said.

Amputees across the country have signed a petition to get President Barack Obama’s attention. They achieved their goal of 100,000 signatures by Aug. 17.

There are currently about 2 million amputees in the United States. While everyone is not on Medicare, amputees said they are concerned that private insurance companies and the Department of Veterans Affairs will follow suit with Medicare’s proposal.


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  • Linda Hudgins Aug 13, 2015
    user avatar

    It appears to me that the problem is that a prosthetic limb should not be as expensive - or more so - than a car. $20K - $40K?!?!? That is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for such a thing. I understand the special skills needed to make one, however even with skills and labor...it's plastic, metal and fabric.

  • Richard Mackey Aug 13, 2015
    user avatar

    This is NOT how to decrease fraud! What a disgusting attempt......one of the craziest things I've heard of in a while

  • Johnny Byrd Aug 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    My thoughts exactly. Sounds like the prosthetic makers are taking full advantage by ripping of the unfortunate. But then again, drug companies AND THEIR STOCKHOLDERS are doing it every day.

  • Timothy Watson Aug 13, 2015
    user avatar

    if this is due to private contractors tasked with cutting cost, then its just a proposal. I don`t believe Medicaid would make that a policy. But as long as we have people in positions of power (senators and house of rep.) then it could come to pass. We know they are all about the corporations, which according to them "are people too".

  • Dan Wilder Aug 13, 2015
    user avatar

    "The goal of Medicare is to save money and eliminate fraud"
    Hmm, I thought the goal of Medicare was to provide Medical services.

    Anyway with todays manufacturing methods it ridiculous for a prosthetic limb to cost 20 to 40 K anyway.

  • Sam Nada Aug 12, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    You can sign the petition to rescind the proposal here:


  • Brenda Blackman Aug 12, 2015
    user avatar

    So where do I sign. I'm an amputee BTk and I barely can pay for supplies now and have to make payments because even with insurance it's expensive. They want us to pay taxes, work, be fit but not give us the means to do it. Can't get disability I was told lost of leg isn't a disability you still can walk and work. I would like to see them walk with crutches all the time. It hurts after a while. Wheelchair. Hmmmm they are 300.00 dollars. Just keep taking away from the folks who work who try and work and pay taxes. I'm also a vet. Those are just words to them. Vets denied me too. So I have to work but I can't work without my leg. People open your eyes don't you see what is happening here. Fight for what's right. Even if you don't have a prosthetic you may have a family or friends who does.

  • Sam Nada Aug 12, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    This proposal is not the result of socialized medicine. It's actually being suggested by private contractors tasked with cutting costs. Putting profit above human welfare is actually more likely to happen in a purely capitalistic system of health care where the most vulnerable, needing costly treatment, can easily be denied coverage by private corporations. Over 500 people per day lose a limb in the US. Any of us could be in the same boat at any time. The best protection is for public funds to be used to provide needed care for everyone. That's the definition of socialized medicine.

  • Johan Summer Aug 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Sounds like a Class Action Lawsuit may be in order if this ludicrous bill passes.

  • Jim Hugs Aug 12, 2015
    user avatar

    They should do it like I did it back in the day. Whittle a peg leg out of rich mahogany.