WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – Medical associations and lawmakers say limb amputations are on the rise in the United States and note that minorities are treated with amputations at a much higher rate than white Americans.

Now, lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to tackle peripheral artery disease which often leads to limb amputation.

“There are close to 200,000 PAD patients who lose limbs to this disease every year,” Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) said.

Diabetes is one of the major risk factors leading to PAD and amputation.

“In this country, a limb is amputated due to diabetes every 3.5 minutes,” Darryl Heggans of the American Diabetes Association said. “Diabetes related amputation rates are 75% higher today than they were just a decade ago.”

Alarmingly, the National Institutes of Health found Black and Hispanic Americans are amputated at about twice the rate of white Americans.

Through the ARC Act, lawmakers hope to reduce amputations.

“It is preventable, people do not have to be losing limbs. If we invest in this simple, cost-effective vascular testing the ARC Act would require,” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) said.

This legislation from Democrats would make PAD screening for Medicare and Medicaid patients free and ensure coverage for some at-risk individuals with private insurance.

The bill would also develop educational programs for patients and health care providers, as Payne notes, “too few doctors who serve minority communities understand the symptoms of PAD to diagnose it properly.”