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Home Oxygen Care Leaders Say President's Budget Will Lead to Significant Patient Service Disruptions, Call for Thoughtful Reforms as Opposed to Repeated Cuts
Date:2/4/2008

$3 Billion of Additional Medicare Cuts to Home Oxygen Benefit Proposed; $1.5 Billion in Medicare Cuts Already Scheduled to Take Affect in Less than One Year

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) -- a coalition of the nation's 11 leading home oxygen therapy providers and manufacturers -- expressed sincere disappointment today in response to cuts to Medicare's home oxygen benefit found in the Bush Administration's proposed budget. According to the President's budget, the potential cuts equate to $3 billion over the next five years to home oxygen therapy, a critical care service that more than 1.4 million Americans depend on for independence and quality of life. The home oxygen community is already facing significant policy changes, taking affect on January 1, 2009, which will impact nearly 300,000 Americans, or 22 percent of the Medicare beneficiaries who rely on home oxygen for their home-based care needs.

"Reforming the payment system means creating a payment system based on patient need," said Peter Kelly, Chairman of the CQRC. "Simply cutting payments for home oxygen without thoughtful analysis does not lead to reform and can lead to disruption in patient services."

The President's budget proposes to cap Medicare payments at 13 months rather than 36 months. Under the proposal, patients would be required to take ownership of their equipment after 13 months. This change in ownership will result in an estimated $3 billion in cuts over five years to providers, which will significantly reduce services.

The Administration's proposal comes at a time of great uncertainly for home oxygen patients and providers. Sweeping policy changes already in place, enacted by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, will cut benefits for home oxygen by more than $1.5 billion over 2009 and 2010. A recent Harris Interactive Survey found Americans support
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SOURCE Council for Quality Respiratory Care
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