WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS, applauded the inclusion of the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act (S. 1132 and H.R. 2465) in the U.S. House’s government funding package that is scheduled for a vote tonight. The Senate is expected to consider the legislation later this week.
The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act permanently fixes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policy that limited access to speech generation devices for people with degenerative diseases. Dr. Cassidy, along with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), introduced the legislation last year. U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and John Larson (D-CT) introduced the House companion bill.
“This legislation gives a voice to those who cannot speak and empowers those affected by degenerative diseases,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The previous administration’s decision to limit patient access to these devices was misguided, and I thank my House colleagues for advancing this bipartisan legislation to permanently fix this problem. I look forward to voting for its passage in the Senate.”
“The silence and isolation that comes from losing the ability to communicate does not discriminate between types of injuries, diseases, accidents, or conditions. Most people who have severe disabilities are expected to fade away quietly and die. For me, that was not ok. With the right equipment and the right technology, these same people can live and be productive for decades. I know I speak for all who use this technology in saying – we cannot revert back to the changes that preceded the Steve Gleason Act of 2015,” said Steve Gleason. “I am grateful for Senators Cassidy and Klobuchar for their leadership on this issue.”
“ALS is a devastating disease that often robs people of the ability to communicate with their loved ones and the health care providers that care for them. On behalf of people living with ALS, we thank Steve Gleason for his leadership on this issue and we applaud Republicans and Democrats for coming together to pass bipartisan legislation to permanently ensure access to speech generating devices,” said Calaneet Balas, President and CEO of The ALS Association.