Bill carves out speech generating devices

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WASHINGTON – A bill that seeks to protect access to speech generating devices for Medicare beneficiaries has been introduced.

The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 would remove SGDs from the DME capped rental payment category and clarify statutory language to ensure coverage of eye-tracking technology for beneficiaries who need it to operate their devices.

H.R. 628 was introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Steve Scalise, R-La.

CMS classified SGDs as capped rental items in April 2014. The agency then issued a coverage reminder in September stating that the devices can only be used for face-to-face conversations.

SGDs enable individuals with disabilities likes ALS and cerebral palsy to communicate and live fuller lives, says Tara Rudnicki, president of Tobii Dynavox, which manufactures the devices.

“These devices are literally lifelines to their beneficiaries, allowing them to communicate with loved ones,” said Rudnicki. “The introduction of this bill demonstrates a firm federal commitment to the health and well-being of Americans living with disabilities and a willingness to act expeditiously in their defense.”