As a prosthesis user, what do you do every day that you would find difficult to do without your prosthesis? What is something you take care of daily that is not a luxury, or something you do often that you cannot imagine doing without - what are the things you take for granted you can do, as long as you have your prosthesis? Make the bed? Take care of your children? Your grandchildren? Go to work? Clean the house? Mow the lawn? Walk your dog? Go to church? Grocery shop? Cook? Work out at the gym? Dance? Run?
These are the kinds of things that the social media campaign #NotALuxury is trying to communicate to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning the new Lower Limb Prosthetic proposal. Having access to the newest technology, not back to the 70’s tech, and access to your complete medical care team - including your prosthetist’s expert evaluation of your needs and prosthesis fabrication - these are things to fight for. And, as we know, what Medicare does, other private insurers will follow with. No amputee is safe.
“Mommyblogger” Peggy, an amputee who blogs about her life as an amputee, started this social media campaign to encourage amputees to share a short 14 second video on their Facebook page, YouTube, Twitter, or any other social media they participate in - with the hashtag #NotALuxury. Also, if you tweet, send it to @CMSgov - the official Twitter handle of the organization behind this proposal. In her 8/6/15 blog post, Peggy describes fully the impact that this proposal would have on her life as a mother - how returning to old technology would impact her life as an amputee with an active child and an infant. “We are looking for average activities, not super athletic feats. Whatever you are able to do because of your prosthesis, please film a clip. We want to flood social media with videos demonstrating the impact of a prosthesis on regular life. “
The Amputee Coalition also states on their website “The Amputee Coalition has always maintained that arms and legs are not a luxury and shouldn’t be treated as such. If you’re interested in sharing your concerns about this draft proposal, the Amputee Coalition encourages you to use #NotALuxury on all social media posts about this issue so we can show a unified and cohesive voice.” They sum up the proposed policy on their website:
- Medicare will no longer consider your potential functional abilities with an appropriate device when determining your prosthetic needs.
- If you are using an assistive device such as a cane, crutch or walker, you will be limited to less functional prosthetic devices. If you have a higher functional level, Medicare will not pay for you to have a wheelchair.
- Combining feet and ankles into a single code and limiting access to advanced technology would significantly harm your access to the feet and ankles that best meet your individual needs.
- You and your medical team may no longer be able to select the necessary socket systems or liner inserts to ensure the most appropriate fit for your needs.
- You could be provided a less functional prosthesis or denied a device just because you may not be able to attain the “appearance of a natural gait,” or if your medical record references certain health complications.
- The Medicare proposal redefines the rehabilitation process for amputees and forces new amputees to rehab on out-of-date technology that they will not even use once they receive their permanent prosthetic device.
So, let your inner filmmaker - screenwriter/director/actor - get out there and make a short video, or make several! Spread the word to other amputees you know to also make one.