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More than 10,000 Medicare Patients in Montana Could Be Hit by Proposed Cuts to Home Oxygen Therapy; Access to Power Wheelchairs Would Also Decrease
Date:9/18/2007

o thank both Senator Baucus and Senator Tester for not including the cuts to oxygen and high-end rehabilitation in the Senate version of the children's health bill."

"Proposing even more cuts to the homecare benefit in Medicare is penny wise and pound foolish," said Tyler J. Wilson, President and CEO of the American Association for Homecare, the trade group for home medical equipment providers. "Homecare is the most cost-effective setting for care in the United States. Yet both oxygen therapy and power wheelchairs have suffered numerous, dramatic reimbursement reductions, which threaten to erode patient access and quality of care. Many policy makers don't realize that medical oxygen is a highly regulated prescription drug, and providing home oxygen therapy requires numerous services to ensure patient health and safety."

The typical Medicare home oxygen beneficiary is a woman in her seventies who suffers from late-stage COPD with associated severe low levels of oxygen in her blood (hypoxemia). COPD is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is the only leading cause of death for which both prevalence and mortality are rising. COPD is a chronic, debilitating disease characterized by severe airflow limitation resulting from chronic inflammation of the airways, decrease in functional lung tissue, and the dysfunction of pulmonary blood vessels. Approximately 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and an estimated 12 to 15 million more remain undiagnosed.

Congress has reduced Medicare reimbursement for oxygen therapy by nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years.

The American Association for Homecare represents providers and manufacturers of durable medical equipment. Association members serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require oxygen equipment and therapy, mobility assistive technologies, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, home infusion, and other home medical equipment, therapies, services
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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