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Bi-Partisan Members of U.S. House of Representatives Formally Oppose Funding Reductions to Medicare's Home Oxygen Benefit
Date:3/7/2008

Joint House Letter, Following Bi-Partisan Senate Letter, asks Lawmakers to Reject Proposed Cuts to Benefit which could 'Jeopardize Care' and Make 'Reform Much More Difficult to Achieve'

Letter Draws Widespread Support Among Home Oxygen Community

WASHINGTON, March 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) -- a coalition of the 12 leading home oxygen therapy providers and manufacturers who provide care and services to approximately 650,000 chronically ill home oxygen patients -- today praised Congressman John Tanner (D-8th TN) and Congressman Philip English (R-3rd PA) for leading efforts in the House of Representatives to protect Medicare's home oxygen benefit. Additional changes to the Medicare benefit, proposed in the Administration's FY 2009 Budget, would put even greater strain on the home oxygen community, currently bracing for scheduled cuts totaling nearly 18.8 percent, or approximately $710 million in 2009 and $855 million in 2010.

"The respiratory care community thanks Reps. Tanner and English for their bi-partisan effort to prevent further funding cuts to Medicare's home oxygen benefit -- on top of deep cuts currently being implemented -- which would jeopardize critical patient care services, as well as hinder benefit reform opportunities in the future," said Peter Kelly, Chairman of the CQRC. "Additional cuts to this benefit could create unnecessary barriers to quality care for patients and present complex new challenges for providers who are already struggling to prepare for unprecedented changes to this benefit."

To date, 32 members of the U.S. House have signed onto the Tanner-English letter, including members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Tom Allen (D-1st ME), Jim Matheson (D-2nd UT), Mike Ross (D-4th AR), G.K. Butterfield (D-1st NC), John Barrow (D-12th GA), Baron Hill (D-9th IN), Mary Bono Mack (R-45th CA) and Joseph Pitts (R-16th PA). Several members of the House Committee on Ways and Means have also signed on, including Mike Thompson (D-1st CA), Kendrick Meek (D-17th FL), Artur Davis (D-7th AL), Thomas Reynolds (R-26th NY) and Devin Nunes (R-21st CA).

CQRC also applauds Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-6th CA), Heath Shuler (D-11th NC), Leonard Boswell (D-3rd IA), Michael Michaud (D-2nd ME), Lincoln Davis (D-4th TN), John Salazar (D-3rd CO), Chris Carney (D-10th PA), David Davis (R-1st TN), Neil Abercrombie (D-1st HI), Jim Gerlach (R-6th PA), Sanford Bishop (D-2nd GA), Charles Dent (R-15th PA), David Hobson (R-7th OH), Marsha Blackburn (R-7th TN), Carolyn McCarthy (D-4th NY), Betty Sutton (D-13th OH) and Jason Altmire (D-4th PA) for co-signing the letter and standing up for the more than 1.4 million Americans who depend on home oxygen therapy for independence and quality of life.

The Tanner-English letter comes on the heels of a letter to the Senate Budget Committee delivered earlier this week, voicing similar, bi-partisan opposition to reductions to this critical-care benefit. Excerpts from the Tanner-English letter to the House Committee on Budget include:

"We believe that further payment reductions this year, coming on top of several recent cuts and an estimated 20 percent reduction that will take effect over the next several months under current law, could jeopardize care for some patients and make benefit reform much more difficult to achieve in the future."

"Home oxygen therapy allows beneficiaries to remain independent by receiving care in their homes in a cost effective way."

"We ask the Committee to weigh the cumulative effect of these reductions and not include any assumptions of additional savings in the FY09 budget resolution."

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care is a group of the nation's leading home oxygen therapy providers and manufacturers, representing a majority of the more than one million Medicare patients who depend on the home oxygen benefit for their care in order to live in an independent environment. CQRC members include Air Products, AirSep Corporation, American HomePatient, Apria Healthcare, Invacare, Lincare, Pacific Pulmonary Services, Praxair, Inc., Respironics, Inc., ResMed, Rotech Healthcare Inc. and Sunrise Medical, Inc.


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SOURCE Council for Quality Respiratory Care
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