The House of Representatives just passed “The Steve Gleason Act” which affects Medicare regulations and protects patients’ access to medically necessary Speech Generating Devices (SGD). This is important legislation since it will affect individuals with communication disabilities including ALS, cerebral palsy, and Rett syndrome.
The bill was introduced by Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Erik Paulsen, and Steve Scalise. An identical bill passed in the Senate earlier this year that was championed by Senators David Vitter, Amy Klobuchar, and Angus King.
The Steve Gleason Act was also spearheaded by the National ALS Association, American Speech Hearing Language Association, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Assistive Technology Industry Association, Team Gleason, Team FrateTrain, and Tobii Dynavox.
“As the result of the hard work of Congress and numerous supporters, the subsequent bill signing by President Obama is a victory for Medicare patients who rely on assistive technology to communicate,” said Tara Rudnicki, President of Tobii Dynavox’s www.tobiidynavox.com North American Market Unit. Tobii Dynavox is a leader in eye-tracking-based assistive technology hardware and software for those with communication and mobility impairment.
Specifically, the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 will achieve two goals. First, SGDs will be removed from the Capped Rental category until October 1, 2018. Revoking the Capped Rental designation gives patients ownership of the SGD and continued access to the device when in a hospital, nursing facility, or hospice.
The second goal is to ensure Medicare coverage of eye-tracking technology to access and operate covered SGDs. Over the past year, a large portion of Medicare beneficiaries who rely on eye tracking technology to access their communication devices have been experiencing denials of coverage for the technology. Without the eye tracking accessory, patients are unable to use their SGDs. This provision also clarifies that SGD related eye tracking technology accessories are covered by Medicare.