President signs Steve Gleason Act into law - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

President signs Steve Gleason Act into law

(Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

President Barack Obama signed legislation named for Steve Gleason into law.

The Steve Gleason Act is officially the law of the land as of Thursday evening. The legislation passed through the Senate in April and passed the House earlier this month.

The measure would make speech generating devices, like the one Gleason uses to communicate, available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.

“Last year sweeping changes were made at Medicare. I was shocked to learn that those changes would include Medicare stripping communication devices (SGDs) from people whose only means of communication was those very devices,” Gleason said. “In a Washington Post op-ed, I called it a human rights violation. We saw it happen far too many times. People who wished to live productively, denied access to the one tool that could liberate them.”

The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 makes the following reforms: It gives immediate relief for patients who have been denied access to SGDs since the Administration’s rule change in 2014; it reverses the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) capped rental policy to allow patients to own their devices and continue using them in facilities such as nursing homes; and it ensures that eye tracking technology and gaze interaction accessories are covered under Medicare for ALS patients with demonstrated medical needs.

Gleason, the former Saints special-teams player, was diagnosed in January 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. 

His triumphs in overcoming his physical limitations serve as an inspiration to many.

Gleason has also helped raise funds to provide leading-edge technology, equipment and services to other individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries.

In a joint effort with his family and friends, he started his Team Gleason advocacy group shortly after his diagnosis.

The organization's goal is to help those struggling with ALS to live productive lives by providing access to events and assistive technology.

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