Bill calls for expanded coverage for prosthetic patients in NM

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – If you saw Kyle Stepp and young Callaway Lewis outside participating in New Mexico’s many recreational activities, you would think nothing of it.

However, almost everyone was deprived of mobility.

“In October 2020 I had a downhill mountain bike accident. [Before,] After the bone cancer, I had a metal implant placed in my leg. Unfortunately, after the mountain bike accident, I had to amputate my left leg above my knee,” said Kyle.

“I think in 2021 I had a climbing accident. I was on top of the Sandias and the rocks were sliding. I had to be taken to the hospital and had my leg amputated,” Callaway said.

Now they each rely on different prosthetics to keep them moving, including moving blades.

“You can see how these are designed, Callaway and I can experience physical activity like anyone else.”

Prostheses like hers and other similar devices are not easy to come by due to the lack of insurance coverage and high deductibles. Even families often do not see these challenges coming.

“In New Mexico we hike and bike, but it can happen to anyone. Disease can happen to anyone, and we can all join the limb loss community immediately,” said Laura Lewis, Callaway’s mother.

As the New Mexico Legislature convenes for its regular 60-day session, the So New Mexicans Can Move Act will make its way into the House.

“In New Mexico, with this law, we are making sure that we provide an equitable form of care for all New Mexicans so that we can empower them and protect all New Mexicans who have unfortunately suffered limb loss or limb dislocation,” Kyle said. “The second part of this bill that is really exciting is our goal to become the first state in the country to cover prosthetics for physical activity. Because unfortunately the insurance company says that physical activity is not medically necessary.”

Rep. Liz Thomson and Rep.-Elect Kathleen Cates are the sponsors of the bill. They expect to present the bill next week.

Though the bill only affects limb loss and difference, the sponsors believe the investment will save the state money. They say it will help treat health problems caused by poor mobility and ill-fitting dentures.

“Currently, orthotics or prosthetics purchased at the most basic level can only be performed at certain times. They sit badly, but young people are constantly growing and causing injuries. They are so basic you can’t be active, you can’t run. which hampers employment, which is another accessibility issue,” said MP Cates.

“It’s about quality of life, freedom of movement and health,” stressed Rep. Thomson.

The group So New Mexicans Can Move is asking for advocates to join their cause. Click here to fill out the form and get in touch with the group.