KARE 11: Soldier who lost his legs introduces prosthetic bill in MN House

By Scott Seroka, KARE 11


ST. PAUL, Minn. — State Representative John Kriesel has introduced House File No. 847, a measure he hopes will help other people who have lost limbs.

“It’s fair, it’s not asking for a heck of a lot, but it’s (about) helping people get back to life,” he said. Kriesel, you may recall, lost his legs after a roadside blast while serving in Iraq.

A group of amputees rallied in the rotunda at the state capitol. “This is about access and providing at least a baseline level care,” Kevin Hines, President of the MN Society of Orthotists, Prosthetists, and Pedorthists said.

Hines says the bill asks for legislation basically guaranteeing that anyone who loses a limb is given coverage comparable to state or federal medical plans. He says some plans cap coverage at $2,500 or restrict patients to one limb for a lifetime.

Lisa Bodine, Manger of Health and Transportation Police for the MN Chamber of Commerce says in the state, all health plans and insurers currently cover prostheses. The chamber hopes a cost-benefit analysis on the file will be required.

“The cost of state-mandated benefits, beyond the essential benefits set, will result in additional financial costs for any individual that purchases care through a state health insurance exchange,” Bodine writes.

Perhaps the star of the rally at the rotunda was 5th grader Nick Nelson, who made the difficult decision to sacrifice his legs a few years ago; He suffers from popliteal pterygium. Webbing on the back of his legs prevented him from straightening them.

“I think this bill is very important,” he told the crowd from his wheelchair.

Nick’s mother Greta says the medical coverage he gets now is adequate, but she worries about the future.

“As he grows, he’s going to need more and more legs and at some point he’s going to be a young man going off his parent’s insurance plan.”

Rep. Kriesel hopes his bill will make its way into a committee soon. The Minnesota senate is also considering a comparable measure. Hines says 19 states have adopted similar legislation while another 15 are debating it right now.

Bodine says Minnesota consistently falls within the top five states requiring the most coverage mandates to providers.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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