March 1, 2019

Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help ALS Patients

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate committees on health and finance, joined 39 of his colleagues in introducing the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act (S. 578), bipartisan legislation eliminating the five-month waiting period before ALS patients can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

“ALS patients should not have to wait for months to receive this support,” said Dr. Cassidy. “ALS is painful, it is degenerative, and on top of that, it is financially devastating. ALS patients and their families deserve immediate help, not another roadblock in their fight against this terrible disease.” 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the ability of the brain to control muscle movements. Individuals with ALS progressively lose the ability to speak, walk, and breathe. There is currently no cure or treatment to halt or undo the effects of ALS, and some ALS patients lose their fight with the disease before ever receiving SSDI benefits. 

The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act would help alleviate some of the financial hardship that accompanies an ALS diagnosis, and support those living with ALS and their families.

Cassidy has championed measures to help ALS patients. His Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act became law in February 2018, permanently fixing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policy that limited access to speech generation devices for people with degenerative diseases.  

Cassidy also successfully spearheaded legislation to award Steve Gleason, a New Orleans Saints icon who was diagnosed with ALS, the Congressional Gold Medal. The medal recognizes Gleason’s work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive, his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as ALS have access to speech generating devices, and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world.

Cassidy introduced the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act (S. 578)with SenatorsSheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Kennedy (R-LA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), AngusKing (I-ME), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD),Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), andKyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).