New Year, New Energy in the Fight for Prosthetic Coverage

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By Morgan Sheets

As a new year begins, we have a lot to celebrate. In 2006, bills were introduced throughout the country, three new laws were signed, and we had hearings on prosthetic parity in more than a half-dozen states.

Rhode Island, California, and Massachusetts passed bills to ensure prosthetic coverage, and in all three states, grassroots efforts really made a difference. Activists called and wrote letters to elected officials at every level. With the launch of our new Advocacy Action Center and our enhanced tool kit for state organizers, the opportunities and resources for activists will only increase.

Efforts by members and volunteers were also key in the many successful hearings that were held. In the most recent hearing in Pennsylvania, both the chairman and the lead sponsor committed to passing HB 2718 in 2007. Their enthusiasm was punctuated by the dozens of letters that had been printed in local papers and the many activists who turned out to testify. It is exciting to hear such a strong commitment from elected officials, but we definitely have a lot of work to do.

Legislative sessions will commence in most states this month. We have been working with committees in 11 different states in preparation to launch bills in the 2007 session. From Oklahoma to New York and Texas to Michigan, we will be working hard to advance bills to protect prosthetic coverage.

The Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) has met with individuals and groups all over the country in our efforts to expand the national campaign for prosthetic coverage, and the campaign really grew in 2006. The ACA opened an office in downtown Washington, DC, and hired a second staff person to assist with the campaign. We held meetings in several states to help organize parity efforts, and new campaign committees sprung up all over the country. At the beginning of 2006, we were working with eight committees. As we begin 2007, 19 different states are building initiatives for parity. We will continue to identify new opportunities to broaden our efforts.

We will also continue to offer day-to-day technical assistance to the committees. In addition to our online Advocacy Action Center and improved organizing tool kit, we have a plethora of new resources to offer activists, including several new research studies. We are also launching a volunteer program out of our national office.

The past year brought many successes. With the continued commitment of industry partners, volunteers, and activists, 2007 is sure to be an even more exciting year!

Morgan Sheets is the national advocacy director for ACA's APPLL initiative. She can be reached at