Ayes On the Prize: Amputee Legislative Update

Amplitude’s last issue detailed New Mexico advocates’ resounding success in passing prosthetic insurance reform as part of the national So Kids Can Move initiative (“Power to the People,” May/June 2023). As a quick refresher, this legislation requires insurers to cover recreational prosthetic devices if recommended by care providers, eliminating the “not medically necessary” dodge.

At the time we published that edition, similar bills were still pending in five other states. Now that the legislatures have adjourned for the year, we can tally up the final outcomes.


On April 13, the Razorback State became the second in the nation to ratify So Kids Can Move legislation in 2023. Its bill is narrower than New Mexico’s, in that it only covers amputees who are designated K3 or K4; that amendment was necessary to get the bill through the state senate. A key on-the-ground champion was certified prosthetist Francois Van Der Watt, who gained fame work-ing with Oscar Pistorious two decades ago and now serves as the lead prosthetist for the US Paralympic team. 


One of the year’s most impressive wins took place in Colorado, where local organizers got a late start and had to scramble simply to get a So Kids Can Move bill introduced. To everyone’s surprise (including their own), their last-minute legislation crossed the finish line in early May, propelled by staunch sponsorship from state representative David Ortiz (a disabled veteran) and testimony from amputee advocates Braden McMahon (age five) and David Schlicht (17).


Illinois achieved a key breakthrough by building on Colorado’s success, in which  advocates produced a detailed analysis showing that So Kids Can Move legislation would have a negligible effect on insurance costs. Illinois lead advocate Jim Kaiser (president of the Illinois Society of Orthotists and Prosthetists) used the same model to sway cost-conscious legislators in his own state. New Mexico’s campaigners employed similar analysis. 


Things got off to a promising start in the Hoosier State, where a So Kids Can Move bill (HB 1433) passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote of 91-0. It also garnered a unanimous “Do Pass” recommendation from the state senate’s health committee. But it died before the Appropriations Committee, whose glutted agenda prevented HB 1433 from even getting a hearing before the session closed. Advocates plan to try, try again next year.


An inconclusive March 16 meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee threw the brakes on this iteration of So Kids Can Move. Lawmakers heard conflicting testimony about whether insurers already cover recreational prosthetic devices, along with concerns about the potential costs of the bill. The committee hit pause while the state’s department of insurance conducted a review. There the matter sits until next year’s session. 

To recap, four states passed So Kids Can Move legislation this cycle: New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, and Illinois. Toss in Maine, which pioneered the legislation in 2022, and there are now five states with some version of this law in place.

New Hampshire and Indiana advocates will take another crack in 2024, and at least two other states (Oregon and Tennessee) are far along in teeing up bills for next year. Maybe your state will be next? If you want to help make it happen, get in touch with Nicole Ver Kuilen, manager of community outreach for the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, at advocacy@aopanet.org.

Top image: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
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