Apr 19, 2021
Amputation Reduction and Compassion Act, introduced in recognition of National Minority Health Month, will expand coverage for PAD screening among at-risk populations
Washington, D.C. –– The CardioVascular Coalition (CVC) – a coalition of physicians, care providers, advocates, and manufacturers working to improve awareness and prevention of peripheral artery disease (PAD) – today applauded lawmakers in Congress for re-introducing the Amputation Reduction and Compassion (ARC) Act (H.R. 2631), bipartisan legislation to improve peripheral artery disease (PAD) education, increase access to PAD screening and reduce lower limb amputations. The bill would provide coverage of PAD screening for at-risk beneficiaries under the Medicare and Medicaid programs without the imposition of cost-sharing requirements, thereby ensuring early detection and intervention to prevent amputation.
The bill is sponsored by Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and originally co-sponsored by Representatives Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Darren Soto (D-FL), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Albio Sires (D-NJ).
By expanding coverage for PAD screening for at-risk beneficiaries, the bipartisan bill would help prevent vulnerable individuals from developing serious complications from PAD, which can lead to lower limb amputation. To reduce unnecessary limb loss, the ARC Act would prohibit reimbursement for amputation unless arterial testing was previously carried out to determine if alternative interventions could be applied. Further, the bill would establish a PAD education program to support, develop, and implement awareness initiatives that inform health care professionals and the public about the dangers of PAD and methods to reduce amputation. This is especially important with respect to at-risk populations, including racial and ethnic minorities who are more likely to face non-traumatic amputation than whites.
While an estimated 20 million Americans have PAD, many are unaware of the serious risks of the disease and are not encouraged to undergo preventative tests that could save their limbs, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs to the healthcare system. Data suggest an estimated 200,000 patients – a disproportionate number of whom are people of color – suffer non-traumatic amputations each year. Yet, with access to timely screening and proper care, as many as 85% of those amputations can be prevented.
“With the introduction of the ARC Act we have the opportunity to expand coverage for simple, non-invasive screening tests that will empower patients to more effectively manage their PAD before amputation becomes necessary,” said Dr. Jeffrey Carr, co-founder of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society (OEIS) and a member of the CVC. “Amputation should be a last resort, yet research shows that most non-traumatic amputations can be prevented with access to early screening and detection—underscoring the need for increased access and coverage. We applaud these bipartisan lawmakers for introducing this critical legislation, which will go a long way toward saving lives and limbs, particularly in communities of color who bear the brunt of the PAD crisis.”
According to the Dartmouth Atlas, amputation risks for African Americans living with diabetes are as much as four times higher than the national average. Similarly, that Native Americans are more than twice as likely to be require amputation related to PAD, while Hispanics are up to 75 percent more likely to have an amputation.
“As the PAD crisis continues to ravage the country, especially among communities of color who are the most at-risk for amputation, we urge Congress to quickly pass the ARC Act,” added Carr. “As we recognize National Minority Health Month this April, we look forward to supporting this bipartisan bill and working collaboratively with lawmakers, advocates, patients, and physicians to address health inequities that persist in America today.”