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Home Oxygen Community Applauds Senator Blanche Lincoln for Leading Bi-Partisan Effort to Formally Oppose Proposed Cuts to Medicare's Home Oxygen Benefit

Letter asks Senate Budget Leaders to Reject Oxygen Funding Reductions which could "Jeopardize Care" and "Make Benefit Reform Much More Difficult to Achieve"

Letter Draws Widespread Support Among Home Oxygen Community

WASHINGTON, March 5 /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 Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for her leadership on a letter to the Senate Budget Committee voicing opposition to reductions in 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 anticipating cuts totaling nearly 18.8 percent, or approximately $710 million in 2009 and $855 million in 2010.

"The respiratory care community thanks Sen. Lincoln for her support of this 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 complex new challenges for providers who are already struggling to prepare for unprecedented changes to this benefit."

CQRC also applauds Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) for his leadership on this letter as well as Sens. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Tim Johnson (D-SD), George Voinovich (R-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kit Bond (R-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) 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.

Excerpts from the Lincoln-Roberts letter to the Senate Budget Committee, opposing further reductions to Medicare's home oxygen benefit, 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."

"Home oxygen therapy, when properly prescribed and used, can slow lung degeneration and prevent hospitalizations, saving scarce Medicare dollars."

"We ask the Committee to weigh the cumulative effect of these cuts and reject assumptions of additional funding reductions."

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.

SOURCE Coalition for Quality Respiratory Care
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