Thursday, September 25, 2014

Medicare Funding of Speech Devices

While the University of SC, Center for Disability Resources and the SC Assistive Technology Program do not engage in lobbying efforts, this publicly available information is being provided as a service to SCATP’s listserv members.

This is from Prentke Romich Company:

“Important News about Medicare Funding of Speech Devices
On December 1, 2014, Medicare is expected to make a decision about a change in funding of Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs). PRC and other organizations that serve individuals with disabilities believe this will have a devastating impact on the quality of life for people with communication disorders.

You should know the facts about this looming rule change so you can take action to help prevent its approval.  Here is some background.

Last March, a “Coverage Reminder” issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an amendment under consideration that would severely limit the functionalities permitted on a Medicare-covered SGD to speech output only. The device would not be permitted to offer any non-speech functions, such as email, Internet access, or environment controls used to turn lights on and off, for example.
Many AAC users depend on these advanced capabilities to communicate in their personal lives and work environments and to maintain maximum independence, so they opt to “unlock” these functionalities at their own expense.  But as ofDecember 1, Medicare will no longer pay for any device that has even the potential to be unlocked.

How You Can Help If You Choose– and Why It’s Important to Act Now

With December 1 quickly approaching, taking action now is vital. We have provided several resources on our website at to help you understand the issue and take action against this proposed rule

  • Learn more about SGD funding, the proposed Medicare change, and its impact
  • Find contact information for CMS executives and your elected Congressional representatives
  • Use our Letter Template to communicate your concerns to CMS officials, members of Congress, and others in position of influence”
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