April 14, 2021

Duckworth, Blackburn Introduce Bipartisan Bill Ensuring Accurate Data on Access to Prosthetics Following the Amputation of a Limb


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced bipartisan legislation that would help improve health outcomes for individuals living with limb loss or limb differences. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY).

“Americans with limb loss and limb difference face unique challenges in accessing optimal assistive technologies that could greatly enhance quality of life and strengthen independence,” said Senator Duckworth. “This bipartisan bill I’m re-introducing with Senator Blackburn and Representative Butterfield would make sure Congress receives a rigorous review of current practices as well as a set of recommendations on how we can improve patient access to the most effective assistive technologies, particularly prosthetic devices.”

“Americans living with limb loss and limb differences should have access to the appropriate prosthetics,” said Senator Blackburn. “We need a better understanding of how many Americans lack access to prosthetics and how it affects their return to the workforce. I’m glad to have Senator Duckworth along with Representatives Butterfield and Guthrie join me in introducing this bipartisan legislation.”

The Triple A Study Act directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study barriers to care for assistive technologies, including prosthetic devices, and evaluate how those affect patient outcomes by comparing results across Medicare, the VA, and private insurers. It examines specific challenges, such as how often people are denied coverage, as well as outcomes, including whether patients can return to work.  Areas to be explored include (but are not limited to):

  • Access to care
  • Patient education
  • Affordability
  • Timelines for assessments for surgery and access to assistive devices
  • Coverage denials and overturn rates
  • Reductions in falls and secondary complications, such as diabetes and vascular disease

Two-thirds of the 2.1 million Americans living with limb loss or limb difference never receive a prosthetic device, and little analysis exists to explain how those decisions are made or if individuals are getting the access to care they need. The information that does exist is difficult to compare across providers.