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Home Oxygen Patients and Family Members Visit Capitol Hill to Ask Congress to Protect Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Benefit
Date:7/17/2009

Patient Advocates, Medicare Beneficiaries Visit Capitol Hill to Urge Congress to Pass Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Act, Oppose Additional Cuts to Oxygen Benefit

WASHINGTON, July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Asking members of Congress to support patient-focused reform of the Medicare home oxygen therapy benefit, patients and family members with the National Emphysema/COPD Association (NECA), a national advocacy organization representing patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases, descended on Capitol Hill this week. Patients urged members of the U.S. House to support and pass the Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Act of 2009 (H.R. 3220), which was recently introduced.

"Though it is extremely difficult for many users of home oxygen to travel, patients and their families feel strongly enough about home oxygen issues to visit Washington to share their personal stories with their legislators and describe how home oxygen improves quality of life for patients," said Barbara Rogers, President and CEO of NECA. "It is really exciting for us to be here during this transformational time in our nation's healthcare system and we hope our message is heard on Capitol Hill. By meeting with lawmakers and their staff, we want to educate them about home oxygen therapy, explain why there should be no additional cuts to the Medicare home oxygen benefit and ask them to support comprehensive benefit reform."

The Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Act of 2009 establishes a standard set of patient services, including routine patient evaluations, patient monitoring, equipment training and maintenance and emergency services, all of which play a crucial role in ensuring oxygen users are receiving the medically appropriate level of oxygen that meets their needs and allows them to live safely and comfortably. By ensuring access to these services and important patient safeguards, this legislation recognizes that home oxygen is much more than a piece of oxygen equipment; it is a healthcare service that provides life-supporting oxygen, which enables patients to breathe.

Home oxygen users, family members and advocates oppose additional cuts to the home oxygen benefit, an essential Medicare benefit that serves 1.5 million beneficiaries. In recent years, the benefit has been cut several times, including a cut of more than 25 percent in 2009 alone.

Across the United States, more than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other degenerative lung conditions. COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and is on the rise. As a progressive, incurable disease that causes irreversible loss of lung function, COPD can severely confine patients by limiting their daily living activities. Home oxygen therapy is one of the only effective treatments for these patients when properly used.

About NECA

The National Emphysema/COPD Association empowers people with COPD, their families and caregivers to improve the quality of patient care and the quality of their lives. For more information, visit www.necaweb.org.


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SOURCE National Emphysema/COPD Association
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