Speech-language pathologists are needed to garner support for a
letter opposing Medicare's SGD regulations! Please
contact your members of Congress TODAY and ask them to sign on to this
Over the past 5 months, access to
speech-generating devices (SGDs) and SGD accessories has been significantly
limited by Medicare to the patients that need them the most. Even after
multiple meetings with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
and contractor staff as well as nearly 200 comments opposing the new
regulations, there have been no changes in policy. Therefore, Congresswoman
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is preparing a bicameral sign on letter to CMS asking
for their rationale on these issues.
This is a time sensitive
issue. Your members of Congress must request to sign on to the
letter before this coming Monday, August 25. On September 1,
if the devices and accessories continue to have non-speech capabilities,
they will no longer be approved for use by Medicare beneficiaries. Don't
let CMS deny much needed patient access to these devices!
In February, the Medicare contractors that administer
Durable Medical Equipment (DME) claims issued a "coverage reminder" that
prohibits SGDs from having any non-speech capabilities (e.g., e-mail,
internet, environmental control) or the ability to upgrade in the future at
the patient's own expense. Related to the coverage reminder prohibitions,
Medicare's contractors are routinely denying coverage for eye-gaze, a
technology that is needed by patients with limited or absent mobility in
the arms and hands. Contractors indicate the denials are due to the ability
of the eye-tracking to be used for other purposes or plugged into devices
that are not SGDs.
Then in April, CMS changed the manner in which it
pays for SGDs, requiring patients to rent them over a 13-month period before
owning the device. "Capped Rental" adversely affects patients in an
extended hospital stay or in skilled nursing facility because while the
patient is in the rental period, Medicare will not cover the rental fees.
Instead, the device is returned to the manufacturer while the patient
would have to obtain a new one from the hospital or hospice or pay the
entire monthly rental fee out-of-pocket. The regulation has left many
patients with no way to communicate at a time when they need it most.
For more information on SGD issues please contact
Lisa Satterfield, ASHA's director of health care regulatory advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ingrida Lusis,
ASHA's director of federal and political advocacy, at email@example.com.