Medicare may soon pay for devices that generate e-mails and text messages for patients who suffer from speech impairments.
The proposed change in policy comes after the CMS came under fire last year by the ALS community for not covering devices capable of being adapted for non-speech uses such as e-mail and Internet access.
Since 2001, Medicare has covered speech-generation devices for such patients. Those devices provide audible communication with people in close proximity to the patient.
Under a reconsideration of that policy, the CMS is proposing to expand Medicare coverage to include technology that produces written messages for remote communication.
“We believe that a written message or phone message from an individual lacking the ability to speak serves the same purpose in communicating with individuals not in close proximity to the patient as generation of speech does in communicating with individuals who are in close proximity to the patient,” the agency says in the proposed decision memo.
The CMS is accepting comments on its proposal until May 29, and expects to formalize the coverage expansion by July 28.