Medicare Coverage for Telehealth Visits Expanded During COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to congressional action, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified providers of a new option for expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth visits.  These changes temporarily remove originating site and geographic restrictions from coverage of telehealth under Medicare fee-for-service.  This coverage applies to all Medicare-approved telehealth services.

The government temporarily waived restrictions on telehealth in Medicare fee-for-service to enable more seniors to access care from their own homes during the public health emergency brought on by the coronavirus. The provisions were included in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

The telehealth waiver applies to treatment of all diagnosis during the Public Health Emergency, not just COVID-19-related visits.

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March 17 Update from ALS Association President and CEO Calaneet Balas

Members of the ALS community,

I want to provide you with an update on how The ALS Association is serving the ALS community as COVID-19 progresses. We know this is a concerning time for many and we want to assure you that we are continuing our urgent mission to find treatments and a cure for ALS, and to serve, advocate for, and empower people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest.

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ALS Focus Launches and Seeks Participants for Important Ongoing Survey Program

Today, The ALS Association launched the ALS Focus survey program. The goal is to recruit people living with ALS and their caregivers to capture their experiences and preferences. Data will be collected in a scientifically rigorous way through quarterly surveys. ALS Focus will provide a deep and evolving understanding of disease burden and experiences of people with ALS and their caregivers. 

The program is a stakeholder driven and collaborative program run by people with ALS, caregivers, academics, industry, government, and ALS Association leadership. Together, they  will ensure a unified and truly representative “voice” for the ALS community. This information is critical to ensure that the voice of people living with the disease directly informs research, clinical, regulatory, and drug company decisions.

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What to Know About Feeding Tubes and Decision Making When Living with ALS

Learning that you should consider a feeding tube can be overwhelming. It is a lot to take in, particularly in combination with the many medical issues that come with an ALS diagnosis. It is common for patients to be hesitant about it, but often, once they see the benefits of tube feeding, they often regret not making the decision sooner.

As part of the ALS care planning process, it is important for patients to discuss options with their multidisciplinary care team, weighing the pros and cons and understanding how their decision will affect their life while they are capable of making these decisions with the least amount of stress and difficulty.  

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Planning Your Super Bowl Meal When Dealing with Eating Challenges

When the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs take the field for Super Bowl LIV, more than 100 million viewers are expected to tune in from homes, pubs and Super Bowl watch parties across the country. While the game itself is considered an iconic signature sports event for most Americans, many of us also identify this game with the smorgasbord of snacks that generally accompanies game watching. After all, a staggering 1.4 billion chicken wings are expected to be consumed during the big game this year, and the day is one of the biggest days for pizza sales every year. 

For people living with ALS, planning a Super Bowl watch party requires additional attention to the feeding and swallowing challenges the disease creates. Did you know that 85 percent of people living with ALS will experience dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, during their disease progression? This is an important issue in ALS care because of the high calorie, high protein requirements that people with ALS have to build and repair muscle and to maintain optimal body weight.

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ALS Association Board Member Urges Congress to Protect the Right to Breathe

Tommy May, a member of The ALS Association National Board of Trustees, published a column in Morning Consult, a leading digital media platform among lawmakers, today urging Congress to protect access to noninvasive ventilators. May was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. He has used a ventilator since 2013 when his disease progression made it difficult for him to breathe on his own.

“Under a new rule created by the agency that runs Medicare, noninvasive ventilators will be included in the Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS). Under this new system, the delivery of the respiratory care and services I, and many like me, rely on will be severely disrupted and lead to a potentially dangerous shortage of this equipment,” May wrote.

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