Medicare Cuts Already Slated for 2009 & 2010 Will Top 20%
Changes Threaten Beneficiary Services, Potentially Thousands of
WASHINGTON, March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leaders in the home oxygen community today expressed concern over Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) announcement about projected program reductions tied to Medicare's competitive bidding program for the home oxygen therapy benefit.
The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) Chairman Peter Kelly, reacting to CMS' competitive bidding announcement, said that today's news underscores the importance of "proceeding with caution" with regard to Medicare policy changes related to home oxygen therapy. "Changes stemming from new competitive bidding policies are even more dramatic than anticipated, and the breadth of those changes should cause policymakers - and all of us who care for Medicare's sickest beneficiaries - to stop and assess carefully the effect these changes will have on the health and well being of elderly patients."
Citing the wide variation in bids from community to community, Kelly said that "initial results prove that what works in one community cannot be assumed to work in another." He also warned that "the magnitude of current and pending Medicare cuts will make the oxygen benefit unsustainable and the impact on beneficiaries dangerously unpredictable. At a time when government is working to stimulate quality improvement and keep patients in their homes and out of expensive institutional settings, these budget-driven policies effectively eliminate all incentives for quality improvement and discourage preventive care."
The home oxygen community is currently bracing for a time of great uncertainty for patients and providers due to sweeping changes due to take place in 2008 and 2009 and required by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which will cut benefits for home oxygen by more than $1.5 billion over the next two years.
"We are deeply troubled by the prospect that policymakers may consider additional benefit reductions at a time of such disruption and uncertainty," said Kelly. "The men and women who provide home oxygen services represent the largest single cost associated with helping patients manage their chronic disease. Deep reductions in Medicare funding will eliminate key jobs at a time when the demand for quality is increasing and the economy is experiencing a downturn."
Kelly added, "Continuing to cut Medicare's oxygen benefit will not produce thoughtful program reforms that lead to increased quality, better patient care, fewer hospitalizations and more efficient use of the health care system. We look forward to engaging with policy leaders on appropriate and sustainable approaches to caring for patients suffering from chronic lung and heart diseases."
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. The Council was formed to work closely with policymakers and their staffs to facilitate a deeper understanding of the clinical, operational, and service-related complexities associated with the provision of this life-enhancing benefit.
|SOURCE The Council for Quality Respiratory Care|
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