House passes Steve Gleason Act to benefit ALS patients

Gleason, a former member of the New Orleans Saints, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. 
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The Steve Gleason Act, named in honor of former Saints safety Steve Gleason, passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The act allows ALS patients to access technology that gives them the ability to speak despite the disease's effect on communication. After a change in Medicare last year, the expensive devices were no longer covered by insurance and were even seized from hospice patients, according to Team Gleason

Gleason has been living with ALS since 2011, and uses a speech-generating device (SGD). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a cognitive disease that affects the brain's ability to control the body. 

The bill was given only a 2% chance of passing when it was first introduced, Gleason said in a statement. Having already passed the Senate, it now awaits President Obama's signature to become law. 

“With help from this extraordinary ALS community of patients and caregivers, as well as advocates like The Center for Medicare Advocacy, we made some noise. A lot of noise,” Gleason said. “People, like myself, who are literally voiceless, were heard. Loud and clear.”

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- Erin Flynn