Support Access to Speech-Generating Devices

Support Access to Speech-Generating Devices

Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and John Larson (D-CT) and Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act (H.R. 2465/S. 1132). The legislation builds on the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 to permanently fix Medicare's policy that limits access to speech-generating devices (SGDs).

Take action now to ask your members of Congress to sign on to this important legislation.

The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 removed SGDs from the capped rental requirement for durable medical equipment under Medicare for three years. Prior to the legislation, in accordance with Medicare rules, if an SGD user resided for more than a brief period of time in a nursing home, hospice, or hospital, Medicare payment for the SGD stopped. Many of these facilities did not and could not supply beneficiaries with a uniquely configured SGD substitute.

Ongoing and permanent access to Medicare coverage of SGDs will ensure individuals, who medically qualify for an SGD, to continue to use their personalized devices. The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 is expected to expire in 18 months. It is important to take action today to ensure passage of this important legislation.

Background
In 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) applied capped rental rules to SGDs and prohibited the ability to unlock the device to include non-speech capabilities, such as eye-tracking technology. Both policies adversely affect patients who require SGDs and are admitted to hospitals or skilled nursing facilities (SNF) because—while the patient is in the rental period—Medicare will not cover the rental fees during the hospital or SNF stay. Although CMS has some regulatory authority to resolve these issues, the agency has indicated that capped rental must be addressed through legislation. The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 addressed these issues.

ASHA Resources
For additional information, contact Ingrida Lusis, ASHA's director of federal and political advocacy, at ilusis@asha.org.

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