Steve Gleason Act Passes House, Heads to President’s Desk

“Life-changing innovations cannot help people when they’re collecting dust on a shelf or getting tangled in red tape.”

0715 Steve Gleason Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) applauded the unanimous passage of the Steve Gleason Act, legislation she introduced to help ensure access to cutting-edge speech generation devices for those who need them to communicate with their loved ones and caregivers. The bill is named for and inspired by Spokane, Washington native and former NFL football star Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS in January 2011.

“Life-changing innovations cannot help people when they’re collecting dust on a shelf or getting tangled in red tape. Because of Gail Gleason and Steve Gleason, thousands of Americans living with degenerative diseases can have the peace-of-mind today that their voices will continue to be heard. I’m proud to have steered this bill through Congress from start to finish, with the help of Majority Whip Scalise, Representative Paulsen, and Senator Vitter.”

Background:

  • In 2014, Gail Gleason and members of the ALS Foundation approached McMorris Rodgers about CMS regulatory changes that limited access to Speech Generation Devices, affecting anyone who uses the device and has Medicare. The problem was three-fold: 1) Local Medicare contractors stopped covering eye tracking accessory; 2) Placement of the device in capped rental category; and 3) Medicare denied patients the ability to ‘unlock’ their device using their own post-tax money.
  • In September more than 200 Members of the House and Senate—Democrats and Republicans—sent a letter to CMS to investigate this arbitrary decision.
  • After CMS addressed only one of the three concerns, McMorris Rodgers and Senator Vitter introduced the Steve Gleason Act as a legislative solution.

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