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ProPublica Reporting Underscores Need for Improved PAD Screening for African Americans

May 28, 2020

CVC working collaboratively with bipartisan lawmakers to advance policies to improve access to screening for at-risk populations and reduce preventable amputations

WASHINGTON – The CardioVascular Coalition – a coalition of stakeholders and advocates created to improve awareness, prevention, and intervention of vascular disease including peripheral artery disease (PAD) – today stressed the importance of policies to support access to clinically appropriate PAD screening and treatment for America’s most at-risk patient populations in response to a new report, The Black American Amputation Epidemic, published by ProPublica.

The article profiles a community in the Mississippi Delta – primarily home to minority communities – and  the challenges individuals face accessing PAD screening and treatment, which results in the proliferation of unnecessary lower-limb amputations across the country.  The article highlights the need for the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to change their guidelines to recommend PAD screening of at-risk population. By recognizing that at-risk populations are more vulnerable to PAD than the general population, USPSTF could help to improve patient outcomes, reduce long-term healthcare costs, and eliminate racial disparities in PAD care.

Bipartisan lawmakers in Congress are also giving this issue attention. In 2019, Congressmen Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) formed the Congressional PAD Caucus to educate Congress and communities about PAD while supporting legislative activities to improve PAD research, education, and treatment, with the goal of preventing non-traumatic amputations due to PAD and other related diseases. Key priorities for the caucus include:

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force should review screening for PAD for at-risk patients;

  • The Administration should form an intragovernmental work group to implement a comprehensive amputation prevention program for PAD patients in Medicare, the IHS and other federal programs;

  • Medicare should incentivize multidisciplinary review of PAD patients in Medicare; and

  • Medicare should disallow non-traumatic amputations without arterial testing.

CVC is also a member of the PAD Task Force, which was formed in 2018 to advance a comprehensive strategy that combines increased public awareness and robust screening with non-amputation treatment measures and multidisciplinary care.

PAD is a limb-threatening circulatory condition, that when left undiagnosed and untreated can result in lower-limb amputation. It is exacerbated by conditions like diabetes, chronic hypertension, and renal disease, which are most prevalent in minority populations. According to estimates, PAD results in as many as 200,000 amputations annually in the United States.

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