Our nation is in a bit of a money crisis. In the last few years the national debt has soared to numbers so high they sound imaginary. With wars in the Middle-East still ongoing, and an extremely expensive universal healthcare bill (likely) coming in the future, that debt is only going to increase. The one thing people on both side of the political spectrum can agree on is this; we need to start cutting costs, big time.
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Unfortunately, it sounds like the folks at Medicare didn't get that memo. Gizmodo reports that they have refused pay for a $150 iPhone app that does the work of an $8,000 computer.
There's this app, called Proloquo2Go. It handles text-to-speech translations via a simple touch interface, which makes it perfect for children with Autism, ALS, Downs Syndrome, or any other disability that inhibits speech. The app, plus the iPhone to handle it, would cost about $350. The full-sized (non-portable) computer device costs $8,000. It can only handle text-to-speech. To any sane person, the iPhone+app is a MUCH better option in virtually any situation.
Unfortunately, the government is pretty much incapable of making rational decisions like that. Medicare/Medicaid won't pay for the iPhone or the app because the iPhone has more than one function. It can be used for purposes other than treating a disability, so they won't cover it. This is absolute insanity.
I say this as someone with several years experience working in special education. I've personally dealt with the machines Medicare does cover. They are heavy, they break easily, and they are only portable in the loosest definition of the word. In every case I've ever seen, an iPhone would have made a vastly preferable text-to-speech device.
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But hey, it's only tens of thousands of dollars of our money, right? What's the harm?