Medicare is proposing changes to its prosthetics policy that may negatively impact patients’ access to prosthetics and their ability to be more mobile.

In response to the proposed changes, advocates and patients have been signing a petition at whitehouse.gov to make Medicare reconsider these changes. The petition reached its signature goal of 100,000, the threshold for a White House response.

According to the petition, Medicare proposed new coverage, coding and clinical care guidelines through its contractors that could install new barriers that would limit and potentially deny access to appropriate prosthetic care.

Also, the proposed policy contains no references to clinical or medical evidence supporting the changes.

John Haberle, an employee at Hanger Orthopedic Group, a local company that makes prosthetics and orthotics, said the new changes would require amputees to jump through many hoops in order to be prescribed prosthetics. 

In fact, many would not be able to receive the equipment they need to reach their full potential for movement, he said.

One provision of the proposal requires new amputees to use a basic “preparatory” prosthesis while participating in a post-amputation rehabilitation program. The patient will not be allowed to use advanced prosthetic components during this phase, thus forcing active amputees to utilize a prosthesis that does not meet their needs.

New amputees will be required to complete a rehabilitation program with basic equipment in order to be eligible for definitive prosthesis.

They will be required to undergo extensive, in-person medical evaluations to prove that they have sufficient cognitive, cardio-pulmonary and neuro-muscular ability to move with the prescribed prosthesis.

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