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Statement from American Association for Homecare on New York Times Article about Home Oxygen Therapy
Date:11/30/2007

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today's New York Times article by Charles Duhigg ("Oxygen Suppliers Fight to Keep a Medicare Boon," November 30, 2007) paints a biased and misleading picture of the healthcare sector that provides home oxygen therapy to Medicare beneficiaries.

The article contends that Medicare vastly overpays for medically prescribed oxygen therapy delivered in the homes of Medicare beneficiaries and that Internet pricing of oxygen equipment is a more realistic barometer of what Medicare should be paying for oxygen therapy. Medical oxygen is a prescription drug that is highly regulated by the FDA. The typical Medicare beneficiary on home oxygen therapy is an elderly patient who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The American Association for Homecare welcomes a genuine debate about appropriate Medicare payment policy for oxygen therapy. In fact, the Association and companies providing oxygen therapy have been working for more than a year to design alternatives to existing Medicare oxygen policy for Congress to consider. Unfortunately, both the New York Times article and federal policymakers have focused only on the equipment costs associated with home oxygen therapy rather than the complete therapy, which requires numerous services. Based on this misleading perspective, which is divorced from the realities of serving the Medicare population and COPD patients in particular, Congress has enacted numerous cuts to oxygen over the past decade, reducing Medicare payment rates for oxygen therapy by nearly 50 percent. Moreover, oxygen payments are scheduled to be reduced by an additional 19 percent over the next two years because of previous legislation, regardless of congressional action this year.

The fundamental flaw in the New York Times article is the dangerously simplistic assumption that oxygen therapy delivered to Medicare patients in their homes should cost the same as the I
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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