ASHA to Congress: Medicare Beneficiaries Need Therapy Caps to End, Improved Access to Speech-Generating Devices

(Rockville, MD - July 20, 2017)  

Permanent solutions to caps on therapy provided to Medicare beneficiaries and protecting and strengthening access to speech-generating devices (SGDs) were the focus of a statement submitted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee today.

“Continuing discussions on the possibility of extending the current therapy cap exceptions process would be a missed opportunity to permanently resolve this perennial issue that drains time and resources on a policy provision that is opposed by the overwhelming majority of members of Congress,” said ASHA 2017 President Gail Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP. Richard’s views were also incorporated into joint testimony offered today to the Subcommittee on behalf of ASHA, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Over the past 2 decades, Congress has acted 16 times to avoid implementing the cap in order to prevent the devastating impact on the rehabilitation needs of Medicare beneficiaries that would result. Each instance diverted resources from the need to permanently replace the cap and steps that would improve the integrity of the Medicare program while ensuring that its beneficiaries retain access to care that they require.

In addition, Richard urged Congress to removed Medicare’s capped-rental requirement on durable medical equipment—specifically, SGDs—and adopt a policy that provides ongoing and permanent access to Medicare coverage of the devices for individuals who medically qualify for the devices. In this regard, she noted an important deadline.

“The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 (H.R. 2465) is expected to expire on October 1, 2018. It is imperative to make this law permanent so that individuals in need of these customized devices will continue to have access to them.”

In closing, Richard stressed that ASHA looks forward to working with Congress to find permanent solutions to both the therapy caps and access to SGDs. Her complete testimony is available here [PDF].

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 191,500 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. www.asha.org

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