WASHINGTON, July 19, 2013 – The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) applauds Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for introducing critical bipartisan legislation that would increase access to podiatric care and save billions of dollars in the process. The Helping Ensure Life- and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act, S.1318, would identify podiatrists as physicians under Title XIX (the Medicaid Provision) of the Social Security Act, making it easier for low-income individuals to get necessary foot care.
"Coverage of podiatry under Medicaid would provide easier access to care for patients while saving the government money," said Michael Goodwin, International President of the (OPEIU). “The most cost-effective healthcare system is one that helps people stay healthy in the first place and S.1318 would go a long way to improving access to necessary care for millions of Americans,” Goodwin added.
Representing thousands of podiatrists across the country, OPEIU has joined forces with the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) to convince Congress to allow Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) to be reimbursed equally under Medicaid as they are under Medicare. The HELLPP Act is the companion to H.R.1761 introduced in Congress earlier this year by Representatives Lee Terry (R-NE) and Diana DeGette (D-CO).
A new University of Arizona study analyzing data for all Medicaid diabetic foot infection hospital admissions across the state over five years found a significant decline in quality outcomes and higher program expenditures among those diagnosed with a diabetic foot infection when the state's Medicaid program did not cover podiatry. In addition, two independent studies, one from Thomson Reuters examining podiatrist care and outcomes for patients with diabetes and foot ulcers and a 6-year study from Duke University supporting the effectiveness of podiatrists as part of a multidisciplinary care team, indicate that billions in annual savings would result from seeing a podiatrist and the avoidance of unnecessary hospitalization and prevention of lower extremity amputations.