HNCA Board Members Advocate for TEP Patients and Providers

Meryl Kaufman, MED, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, and Cherie-Ann Nathan, MD, FACS, have been conducting intensive advocacy work on behalf of laryngectomees who use TEP (tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis) in regard to issues with Medicare coverage. Click here to learn more about this issue.

They recently met with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), along with cancer survivors and advocates from the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association (ASHA). Overall, the meeting went extremely well with participants explaining the problem, the prior efforts, the current impact on health and access to care, the patient perspective on life as a laryngectomee, and quality of life with and without a TEP. ASHA presented information compiled from a recent patient call to action with an extensive list of emails from patients and a report on over 200 phone calls from beneficiaries. Ms. Kaufman and Dr. Nathan explained all of the various reasons specialized prostheses are needed and showed CMS representatives the different prostheses and how they vary in size, shape, and function.

CMS is now requesting hard data on why prices on TEPs have increased and what percentage of patients need each type of specialized device from the various vendors. Additionally, they would like to see data on health consequences from decreasing access to the devices, such as pneumonia, need for re-puncture, and/or ER visits, etc. The next step will be to collect this information through a variety of methods. HNCA and ASHA advocates will keep pushing forward from here until TEP are accessible to all patients who need them.

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Like with all cancers, early detection is key, and I urge everyone to get screened for oral, head and neck cancers by taking advantage of the free screenings offered during OHANCAW®... The ball is in your court…get yourself screened!Michael Cooper
NBA Champion, Tongue Cancer Survivor and 2018 OHANCAW® Spokesperson

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