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Contributor: Congress Must Act to Stop America’s Amputation Epidemic

May 16, 2022

Foluso A. Fakorede, MD

The Amputation Reduction and Compassion Act (H.R. 2631) would ensure that Medicare and Medicaid both cover peripheral artery disease screening for at-risk beneficiaries without the cost-sharing requirements that could make some patients balk at seeking care.

As our health care system works to address the many disparities and inequities that Americans of color—particularly Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans—continue to face, there remains too little understanding of our nation’s amputation epidemic. Over the past 2 years, the pandemic has brought attention to the health disparities that continue to affect people from racial and ethnic minority groups. Although some policymakers encourage action through health education, early detection, and control of disease complication, the systematic inequities that result in unnecessary and senseless amputations must be addressed.

Each year, surgeons perform some 200,000 nontraumatic amputations, due primarily to peripheral artery disease (PAD), an all-too-common complication of diabetes, kidney disease, and chronic hypertension. For the 20 million Americans living with PAD, it will become increasingly difficult for oxygen to reach the legs and feet due to plaque building up in a person’s arteries—unless the chronic condition is diagnosed and treated early. Without medical intervention, amputation will become the only option for a high number of individuals, many of whom don’t even find out they have PAD until it’s too late to save their limbs.

Read the full article on AJMC.

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