Murkowski: ALS Fight Gets Win for Those Battling Disease

Senator Lauds Passage of Steve Gleason Act of 2015

Senator Lisa Murkowski today expressed heartfelt gratitude for her Senate colleagues’ support in unanimously passing the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 that will improve access to speech generating devices (SGDs) for Americans living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Since many suffering from the disease lose the ability to talk – a devastating impact for patients and their loved ones – SGDs are a tool to communicate and help maintain more independent lives.

“We must use every tool in our toolbox to help fight and manage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), whether it is research funding, providing those afflicted with the disease the closest to normal life they can have,” said Senator Murkowski.  “Just five days ago, I joined dozens of friends and colleagues at an ALS event to raise money to help us find a cure.  Through a SGD, Steve Gleason spoke to us that day, and he has said that until there is a cure, technology can be a stand-in.  I thank my colleagues for supporting this important cause.”

This legislation was introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and is named after Steve Gleason, a former professional football player with the New Orleans Saints, who was diagnosed with ALS in January 2011. House of Representatives leadership has assured the U.S. Senate it plans to bring Vitter’s bill to the House floor for a vote.

(Team Murkowski competes in YFALS Event in Washington, D.C. Saturday.)

The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 would make the following reforms:

  • Gives immediate relief for patients who have been denied access to SGDs since the Administration’s rule change in 2014.
  • Reverses the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) capped rental policy to allow patients to own their devices and continue using them in facilities such as nursing homes.
  • Ensures eye tracking technology and gaze interaction accessories are covered under Medicare for ALS patients with demonstrated medical needs. This is how Gleason is able to verbally communicate.