Columbus amputees could face significant cuts to reimbursement for prosthetic care

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Proposed changes to Medicare policies will cut funding for prosthetic care, leaving amputees access only to outdated technology and uncomfortable prosthetic devices.

The Amputee Coalition is calling Medicare’s proposal “devastating.”

According to the group, the new policy is so restrictive, it will send amputees back to 1970s technology.

Columbus resident Mitzi Oxford’s son, Robert, is a double amputee. He contracted bacteria meningitis when he was five years old and lost both his feet as a result.

Oxford said it was advancements in prosthetics that gave Robert a chance at a normal childhood.

“In first grade, he was able to compete in a field day competition and I didn’t think he would be able to do that, but part of that was the technology allowing him to be more mobile and do that,” Oxford said. “And I can remember it like it was yesterday.”

Robert grew into a young man whose made great strides, including losing over 100 pounds his first year of college.

“Just thinking that that’s not possible and could prevent his progress, it just breaks my heart,” Oxford said. “I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to do that with some of these proposed changes.”

Columbus prosthetist George Gatewood said the changes would include eliminating check sockets and using outdated technology for knee units and prosthetic feet.

“I don’t even want to think about it,” Gatewood said. “It’s just terrible for the patient. Weight alone would set them back.”

While Medicare is behind the proposal, Gatewood believes other insurance companies will also jump on board.

“This isn’t us just picking on Medicare,” he said. “All of them will follow suit and it’s all about cost.”

Both Oxford and Gatewood hope Medicare will rescind its proposal.

More than 100,000 Americans have signed a White House petition in hopes of the same thing.

If the proposal passes, the VA will be forced to adopt some of the new policies.

There are approximately 185,000 new amputees each year.

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