ALS Patients Win Fight Over Medicare Reimbursement For Speech Devices

After strong pushback from ALS patients and lawmakers, the government has reversed a decision that could have blocked Medicare reimbursement for certain speech generation devices beginning Dec. 1. The decision announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services means Medicare will continue a longstanding policy to cover most of the cost of devices that can be upgraded by patients at their own expense. Speech generation equipment is critically important to patients with ALS and similar neurodegenerative disorders — conditions that limit their capacity for movement and speech. Patients, since 2001, have had the option of paying themselves for upgrades, including those that enable them to connect to the Internet and open doors or adjust room temperatures. But in February, Medicare announced a policy interpretation that would have precluded coverage of the cost of upgradable devices. Patients with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and their advocates strongly objected. On Thursday, the government backed off. In reversing course, CMS “emphasized the importance of technology and how critical it really is, at this point, I think, to not make a new policy immediately,” said Kathleen Holt, associate director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, which advocates for Medicare beneficiaries.

Source/more: Kaiser Health News

David Wingate,

Elder Law Attorney practicing in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.

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