The Medicare cap on outpatient rehabilitation therapy services and coverage of speech-generating devices were among the topics discussed at a House Subcommittee on Health hearing yesterday that examined 11 bipartisan bills seeking to improve Medicare. These issues directly affect the Medicare patients/clients that ASHA members serve.
“Much like the SGR [Sustainable Growth Rate to control spending by Medicare], we have a policy inherent to the therapy cap that no one supports and each year we must find offsets in the Medicare program to simply protect beneficiaries from a policy harmful to their access to treatment. Also, like the SGR, this year-by-year approach is not cost effective nor does it provide needed stability for providers and their patients. As we did with the SGR, it is my hope that we can find a permanent policy solution to this issue—that work should start and be led by this Committee.”
Collaborating for Change
Joint testimony from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and ASHA was presented before the committee. ASHA will continue to collaborate with APTA and AOTA on a permanent solution for the therapy cap.
Access to Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs)
Legislators also reviewed the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017 (H.R. 2465), which builds on the Steve Gleason Act of 2015, a bill that removed SGDs from Medicare’s capped-rental category for a set period of time.
This hearing indicates the committee is interested in advancing bipartisan Medicare issues during this session of Congress. Written testimony on both of these issues was provided by ASHA 2017 President Gail Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP.
Michelle Mannebach is director, Advocacy Communications and Administration, for ASHA. MMannebach@asha.org