Potential Medicare SGD Policy Change

There are potential changes to Medicare’s policy regarding speech generating devices.  The majority of this information is from Lew Golinker, a lawyer for the Disability Law Center as well as Erica Mbangamoh, MS, CCC-SLP.

On April 1, 2014, Medicare will change the process in which it pays for Speech Generating Devices (SGDs).  From that date forward, Medicare will no longer pay in full for SGDs upon delivery to a Medicare recipient.  Medicare will instead pay for the SGDs on a rental basis for a period up to thirteen months.  After this time, the Medicare recipient will own the SGD.  If the Medicare recipient who has received a SGDs and is within the thirteen month rental period, Medicare will terminate funding for the device when/if the recipient would go into a place of service that does not have coverage, such as a hospital, SNF, or hospice.  If this were to happen, the beneficiary would be expected to return the device unless they could cover the rental cost out of pocket.  

All devices delivered after April 1, 2014 will be subjected to the new rental policy.  

It is important to note that Medicare is not cutting funding for devices; the method of payment is simply changing.  Additionally, it is important to note that this change does not affect the speech-language pathology evaluation, the report requirements, or the range of SGDs that Medicare will cover.