In September, we posted a blog about a legislative threat facing people living with ALS. According to a policy review by the Center for Medicare Advocacy, assistive devices capable of being adapted for non-speech uses (such as email and Internet access) would not be covered by Medicare. In other words, devices that offer important communication and information gathering capabilities would be out of reach for many people (with ALS) who rely on those technologies to enhance their lives.
At the time of the blog writing, several Congress members had signed a letter urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to clarify these policies and to identify a “quick resolution” to address ALS patients’ needs. This was an uncertain time for the ALS community, as everyone waited to see whether access would be provided to so many in need.
Last week, The ALS Association received some good news regarding this issue. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the Association that it had instructed its contractors to rescind the “coverage reminder” that would prohibit people with ALS from unlocking Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) and accessing other technologies such as email and the Internet.
According to the Association, the agency intends to revise its current SGD coverage policy to recognize the advances in technology that have occurred since the policy was initially created in 2001.
Supporters of The ALS Association participated in outreach to Capitol Hill, which led 200 Members of Congress to sign the SGD Dear Colleague Letter. This advocacy is an example of the supportive ALS community coming together to create positive change and to improve lives. The LC Technologies team is excited for the people with ALS who will now have access to the technologies they need to communicate with, and participate in, the world around them.