July 21, 2011

OPEIU Pushes Legislation Supporting Podiatric Physicians

President Goodwin Praises Sens. Schumer and Grassley for Introducing S. 1309

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Congress works to bring down the cost of healthcare delivery and reduce the budget deficit, Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have introduced critical legislation that would increase access to podiatric care and save billions of dollars in the process. The Equity and Access for Podiatric Physicians Under Medicaid Act (S. 1309) 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 the foot care they need.

"The most cost-effective healthcare system is one that helps people stay healthy in the first place. S. 1309 would go a long way to improving access to necessary care for millions of Americans and Senators Schumer and Grassley should be commended," said Michael Goodwin, International President of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).

Representing more than 4,500 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 under Medicaid as they are under Medicare.

Two recently released 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 or prevention of lower extremity amputations.

"Seeing a podiatrist saves lives and limbs, and coverage of podiatry under Medicaid would provide easier access to care for patients while saving the government money," said Dr. John Mattiacci, Dean of Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine.

A bill identical to S. 1309 passed the House last year, but failed to become law in the absence of passage in the Senate.

The Office and Professional Employees International Union represents more than 125,000 members in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. OPEIU represents employees and independent contractors in banking and credit unions, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels, administrative offices and more.

Professional organizations and Guilds affiliated with OPEIU are a diverse group that includes physicians, pharmacists, chiropractors, appraisers, podiatrists, clinical social workers, hypnotists, teachers and helicopter pilots. For more information on OPEIU visit www.opeiu.org.

SOURCE Office and Professional Employees International Union, AFL-CIO (OPEIU)