UNLV Community Concert Band to Help Lions Task Force Against Diabetes Save Diabetic Limbs

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The University of Nevada Las Vegas Department of Music is producing a Community Band Concert fund raiser to enable area Lions clubs to prevent diabetic leg amputations in the Las Vegas area.

August 29, 2016, Las Vegas, Nevada – Proceeds from ticket sales for a 7:30pm, November 9, 2016, UNLV Community Concert Band performance in the 1800-seat Ham Hall will help prevent low income diabetics in Nevada from losing their legs needlessly, according to Lawrence M. Rubin, the podiatrist director of the nonprofit Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention (LEAP) Alliance Task Force Against Diabetes.

The funds are earmarked for subsiding diabetes amputation prevention foot care for Medicaid patients and uninsured diabetics who cannot pay for medical care by a podiatrist. Members of Nevada Lions Clubs International will work with the nonprofit LEAP Alliance and its task force to allocate funds. Podiatrists are foot and ankle physicians that provide specialized medical and surgical care. For information about individual and group ticket sales, email a request to: information(at)leapalliance(dot)org

Although the American Podiatric Medical Association and the American Diabetes Association warn diabetics against performing “bathroom surgery” by cutting their own corns, callouses, and toenails, low-income diabetics in Nevada who are covered by Medicaid have to dig into their own wallets to pay podiatrists for this specialty care. Nevada is one of just a few states that do not reimburse Medicaid patients for amputation prevention services performed by a podiatrist.

“Leg amputations can begin with a minor foot problem such as a thick toenail, a blister, or an inflamed corn,” says Rubin. These common foot ailments can cause pressure points that become open sores, and the sores can become severely infected and lead to eventual amputation. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, up to 80% of these amputations can be prevented when diabetics are under the care of a podiatrist.

The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) gives low-income patients access to Medicaid, but Medicaid, in spite of the organized pleadings of the Nevada Podiatric Medical Association, legislators continue to turn a deaf ear and refuse to reimburse diabetics for podiatric amputation prevention services.

“I’ve seen diabetic Medicaid patients try to perform bathroom surgery by using a garden pruning scissors to cut the thick and long fungus infected nails very common in diabetes,” says Denise Tropea, podiatrist director of foot and ankle services in the Las Vegas Preventive Health Care Clinic in the Summerlin Hospital Medical Office Building. Special podiatry nail cutting instruments are needed to handle fungal nails that often grow to grotesque thickness when not treated. When diabetics who often have poor eyesight try to cut their thick nails with scissors, as they often do, this is dangerous and can result in self-inflicted injury that can result in infections, according to Tropea.

LEAP Alliance member Allan J. Stahl, cardiovascular physician, would like to see all physicians and the general public in Nevada support legislative change that would include diabetic podiatry services. Physicians themselves do not like to have patients come to them on the verge of needing leg amputations that could have been prevented by a podiatrist.

“The racial groups that are most vulnerable to diabetes and its complications are those groups that often have large numbers of persons covered by Medicaid insurance,” says Arlene Rubin, herself a diabetic and co-founder of the LEAP Alliance. “Diabetic foot and leg amputations are most common in African American, Latino, Pacific American, and Native American populations,” she reports. She looks forward to being able to help diabetics pay for foot care that can save their legs, and sometimes even their lives. The LEAP Alliance is forming the Pauline Rose Foundation that will handle funding applications and monetary distributions for eligible diabetics.

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Supplemental Information About Nevada Medicad Non-Coverage of Podiatry Services

Medicaid payments are covered by a combination of federal and state funds, and the federal government gives each state the option of including or excluding certain services. Diabetic foot care by a podiatrist is one of these options. In a few states, including Nevada, Medicaid attempts to save money by not paying for preventive diabetic foot care by a podiatrist. However, the American Podiatric Medical Association points out that these states are actually increasing their health care costs. They have to pay for expensive surgery and hospitalizations for foot and leg amputations—in addition to paying for treatment of the chronic skin ulcers and infections that usually precede amputations.

For more information, contact lrubin(at)leapalliance(dot)org (702) 233-5253

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Lawrence Rubin, DPM