Doctors of Podiatric Medicine: Saving Lives, Saving Limbs, Saving Health-Care Dollars

The average person walks 100,000 miles in a lifetime.

That’s a lot of wear and tear on our feet and ankles, the unique body parts that keep America moving, active, and productive at our jobs. Doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs) are physicians and surgeons at the forefront of delivering specialized foot and ankle care. However, not everyone is able to receive that care. The passage of HR 1542/S 1533, the Helping Ensure Life- and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act, will change that.

Each and every day, podiatrists keep America walking by preventing higher cost critical outcomes like hospitalizations and amputations. In fact, the inclusion of care provided by podiatrists for those with diabetes alone will save our health-care system as much as $3.5 billion per year. A more recent study shows a tremendous impact from removing podiatric services from Medicaid in the state of Arizona. It is simply common sense to allow all patients access to the group of doctors who already perform the majority of foot and ankle care in the US.

Foot and Ankle Care in US by profession

Many members of Congress are already supporting the HELLPP Act. Additionally, the HELLPP Act has been endorsed by a diverse group of health-care stakeholder and patient-representative groups. If you are an APMA member, use our eAdvocacy site to contact your elected officials today.

Six Reasons to Support The HELLPP Act

What is The HELLPP Act?

The Helping Ensure Life- and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act (HR 1542/S 1533), was introduced in the 115th Congress by US Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Ed Royce (R-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), GK Butterfield (D-NC), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Ron Kind (R-WI) in the House and by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in the Senate. The HELLPP Act includes multiple comprehensive reforms and goes further to ensure podiatric physicians will continue to save lives, limbs, and health-care dollars.

The HELLPP Act would accomplish three important goals:

  • Recognize podiatrists as physicians under Medicaid—A chief goal of APMA's Vision for the 21st Century, recognizing podiatrists as physicians, would finally bring Medicaid into line with Medicare (and a majority of US health-care delivery systems) and ensure Medicaid patients have access to care by the best educated and trained providers of foot and ankle care.
  • Clarify and improve coordination of care in Medicare's Therapeutic Shoe Program for Patients with Diabetes—The current process and Medicare contractor requirements for determining eligibility for Medicare’s Therapeutic Shoe Program for Patients with Diabetes, and for furnishing this medically necessary benefit, are unnecessarily burdensome and frequently bogged down, leading to frustration on the part of the certifying physician, prescribing doctor, and supplier. These clarifications would allow each member of the collaborative team—MD/DO, DPM, and supplier—to work together more effectively and seamlessly on behalf of diabetic patients, resulting in less patient confusion, less provider frustration, and fewer office visits for the Medicare system.
  • Strengthen Medicaid program integrity—By closing a loophole that allows tax-delinquent Medicaid providers to still receive full Medicaid reimbursements, this provision will save the Medicaid system money and more than offset any additional federal budget costs associated with the inclusion of podiatrists. Such a mechanism already exists in Medicare and could potentially save billions of dollars for the public health-care system.

 

Download the full issue/policy brief: HELLPP Act (PDF)


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