I was simultaneously heartbroken and angry when I read the response. Reading the non-committal recap of the issues instead of the response to the proposal that was requested, I wanted to cry. I felt like I had wasted my entire August working to secure signatures on a futile petition.
After a few days and multiple conversations with those whom I respect in the field, I have been able to gain perspective. The statement released by the White House was labeled as the "initial response," and it was indicated that more information would be forthcoming. Those who are working the political side of this issue believe that there are a lot of backroom discussions concerning the proposal and that the fight has not been in vain. The White House felt obligated to provide a response but was not yet prepared to address the specifics.
I took the lack of content as a failure, but it could be a victory. While it is frustrating to continue to wait, the fact that more information was promised is an encouraging sign. It means that access to quality prosthetic care is being examined by the highest levels of our government. My optimism about our success is starting to return.
While I'm feeling more hopeful about the Medicare proposal being rescinded or modified, our battle is not yet over. Private insurers are already beginning to adopt the detrimental aspects into their policies. As of October 1, UnitedHealth Care has stopped covering prosthetic vacuum systems. They cite the lack of medical evidence as the reason, but privately they attribute the decision to the Medicare proposal. I fear that this is just the beginning of the cascading impact of this proposal.
Dave and I recorded a podcast about the issue and are encouraging everybody to tweet @AskUHC, which is the official customer service handle for United Healthcare. Please ask them why they are limiting prosthetic care for customers. Don't forget to use the #NotALuxury hashtag so that we can trace and retweet these queries. We need to flood United Healthcare with polite inquiries and concerns so that we can increase public awareness. Let's continue to make a difference on this issue!
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