A recent letter sent by Reps Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, Wash), John Tierney, (D, Mass), and Erik Paulsen (R, Minn), and Senator Susan Collins (R, Me), asks the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for an explanation for recent policy changes that reportedly impact millions of Americans living with neurological and degenerative disabilities. According to congresswoman McMorris Rodgers’ website, the legislators released a statement on these changes, which limit patient access to speech generating devices (SGDs).

In the statement, which appears on the congresswoman’s website, the legislators emphasize that Americans rely on these technologies as “their only means to continue communicating with family, friends, and the outside world, but CMS’ recent actions are now limiting their ability to benefit from these tools that help lead independent, productive lives.”

Following communication from a variety of individuals living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other degenerative disabilities, the legislators add in the statement that they urge CMS to explain its policy decisions. They also highlight their unity with the individuals who are being impacting, saying, “We must empower men and women with the opportunity to utilize 21st century technologies that can have a tremendous impact on their quality of life.”

The site notes that the changes by CMS impact patient access to speech generating devices, including eye-tracking technology. Reported patient populations impacted by these changes include those with cerebral palsy, ALS, Rhett Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, brain stem stroke, locked-in syndrome, and traumatic brain injury.

According to the site, the letter is intended to solicit an explanation from CMS for these revisions, which include the prevention of unlocking SGD devices when Medicare is not being asked to cover or pay for those expanded functionalities.

Rep McMorris Rodgers’ site states that she and Tierney, Paulsen, and Senator Collins were joined by 200 legislators who signed onto the bipartisan letter to CMS and Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

[Source: Website of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers]