Amputees fight Medicare changes

Aug 31, 2015 8:31 PM by Charlene Cheng

A year ago, Paul Mantor was forced to undergo a life-changing operation.

"We made the decision to amputate my foot, and amputate my leg," he said.

His worst fear? Not being able to get himself around.

Luckily, today's technology in prosthetics allows him to walk, drive, and even work ten hour shifts at a retail job.

"If I didn't have the ability to do that, I don't know what I would do. Pretty much just sit on my rear end and watch TV and collect a disability check," Mantor said.

But that could all go away with proposed changes to Medicare, that would make it more difficult to get covered for advanced technology prosthetic limbs, which are more expensive.

For many, that means using wheelchairs, canes, or going back to technology that was used in the 70's.

This change would affect the 150,000 amputees in the Medicare system.

The decision comes from Medicare contractors, who administer payment for prosthetic care.

Medical providers believe it won't be long before private insurers follow suit.

"If they see that Medicare is able to say that they're not going to pay for this particular item, they're going to include that in their policy language," said Jeff Zeller, a prosthetist/orthotist who owns Spectrum Prosthetics & Orthotics in Redding.

This could possibly take away the freedom of the two million Americans living without a limb.

"I want to be treated just like everybody else. I want to be able to go about my everyday life. I want to be able to work. I want to be able to provide for my family. I want to be able to play sports with my family. I think that's a basic right for anyone," Mantor said.

For more information on the proposed changes, or on signing a petition, visit the American Orthotic Prosthetic Association website.


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