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Home Oxygen Community Braces for Massive Cuts to Medicare's Home Oxygen Benefit Starting January '09
Date:12/3/2008

Unprecedented Cuts of 27% Will Result in Service Reductions

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Members of the Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) -- an alliance of the country's leading home oxygen providers and manufacturers that care for nearly half of Medicare's home oxygen beneficiaries -- are anxiously preparing for massive Medicare cuts to the program's home oxygen benefit beginning on January 1, 2009.

The Medicare Part B home oxygen benefit, which has experienced a series of funding cuts in recent years, is quickly approaching another round of deep cuts that were enacted by Congress in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005 and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) of 2008. Providers will be faced with Medicare cuts of an estimated 27 percent as the New Year begins, and those cuts are expected to impact services for patients who rely on home oxygen to treat their chronic or terminal pulmonary conditions.

These cuts equate to approximately $850 million in funding in 2009 alone. An astounding $4 billion will be cut from the benefit over the next five years despite the ever increasing number of seniors who require this essential, cost-effective service.

"These cuts will have a devastating impact on our nation's home oxygen community," said Peter Kelly, CQRC Chairman. "The magnitude of these cuts -- which include a cap on payments for patients who require oxygen therapy for more than 36 months and an additional 9.5 percent reduction -- is creating turmoil and uncertainty within the provider community." Government and industry estimate approximately one quarter of the nearly 1.4 million Medicare beneficiaries who rely on the home oxygen benefit will be affected by the cap in January 2009.

Exacerbating these cuts is a just-released Bush Administration regulation which will prohibit Medicare f
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SOURCE Council for Quality Respiratory Care
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