Technology – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Issues Final Decision Memorandum on Speech Generating Devices

On July 29, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final decision memorandum related to coverage of speech generating devices.  These devices fall within the Medicare durable medical equipment (DME) benefit category.  The memorandum was issued to address significant advances in technology since 2001, when the previous benefit coverage determination was issued.  Fortunately, CMS determined that devices that generate speech will still be considered DME even though they can perform other functions (such as email and text messages), as long as they are “used solely by the patient with the severe speech impairment and are used primarily for the generation of speech.”  Unfortunately, however, the memorandum excludes coverage for computers, tablets, and similar devices used in conjunction with speech generating applications as they “are not primarily used for a medical purpose and are useful in the absence of an illness or injury and therefore, do not meet the definition of DME.”  Disability advocates had sought coverage of computers, tablets, and similar devices because they are less expensive and easier to use than many speech generating devices.  Read the memorandum here.

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