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President's Proposed 2009 Medicare Budget Would Weaken Seniors' Access to Durable Medical Equipment and Therapies Required in the Home
Date:2/4/2008

nt across Democratic and Republican party lines and across age groups.

Cuts to Home Oxygen in Medicare Will Impair Access to Life-Sustaining Therapy

The American Association for Homecare has long opposed the proposal that resurfaced again in the President's budget that would force Medicare patients to assume responsibility for owning and managing medical oxygen equipment in their homes after 13 months of rental. Oxygen is a prescription drug regulated by the FDA that requires strict adherence to clinical standards and appropriate monitoring to ensure patient compliance with treatment. Medicare policy does not recognize the cost of services required in providing oxygen therapy, and the Association is concerned that oxygen policy is increasingly at odds with the clinical needs of patients. Service costs for medical oxygen therapy in the home have been shown to exceed the cost of equipment by three to one.

The typical Medicare home oxygen beneficiary is a woman in her seventies who suffers from late-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and as a consequence has severe low levels of oxygen in her blood. Approximately 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD and an additional 12 million more remain undiagnosed.

Oxygen therapy works best where there is a continuing, uninterrupted relationship between the oxygen patient and a qualified home oxygen provider. Prior to the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), the home oxygen benefit in Medicare provided for rental as long as the prescribed oxygen therapy was medically required. However, home oxygen has been the target of budget cuts for many years: Congress has reduced Medicare reimbursement for oxygen therapy by nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years. And deep additional cuts, apart from the President's proposal, are scheduled to take effect within the coming year.

Budget Proposal Would Reduce Access to Power Mobility for Disabled Americans

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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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