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Congressman John Larson

Representing the 1st District of Connecticut

The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act Moves Forward

September 13, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act was passed out of the Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee today with a voice vote. This bill, introduced by Representatives John Larson (D-CT),  Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), and House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), would protect access to medically necessary speech generating devices (SGD) under the Medicare program. For some beneficiaries suffering from ALS and other degenerative diseases, these devices are essential for communication and self-expression.

“I’d like to thank Rep. McMorris Rodgers for her leadership in advancing the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017 out of Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee today, moving this critical bill one step closer to becoming law. This bill would provide a lasting solution for millions suffering from degenerative diseases who rely on speech-generating devices to communicate with their loved ones and doctors. I’d like to thank all of our partners at the ALS Association and Connecticut’s own Center for Medicare Advocacy for their continued commitment and a special thanks to Team Gleason and Mr. Gleason, who continues to advocate on the behalf of others who are battling ALS and other conditions,” said Larson. “I urge Congress to bring this important bill to the floor for passage.”

Background: The Enduring Voices Act is named after former NFL player Steve Gleason, who has become a champion of those with ALS after being diagnosed with the disease himself in 2011.  After learning about CMS regulatory changes that limited access to speech generation devices for those on Medicare, Mr. Gleason wrote an open letter to Congress and CMS in July of 2014. In September of 2014, more than 200 Members of the House and Senate—Democrats and Republicans—sent a letter to CMS to investigate this arbitrary decision.

In July of 2015, the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 was signed into law to protect patient access to speech generating devices. However, those protections are slated to expire October 1, 2018. The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017 would build upon the successes of the 2015 law to permanently protect these medically necessary devices.

 

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