WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) expressed extreme concern and disappointment today over a regulation just released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implementing the Deficit Reduction Act's 36-month cap on Medicare's funding of home oxygen therapy. With the January 1, 2009 implementation date looming, home oxygen providers have been anxiously awaiting CMS guidance on how Medicare will cover the costs of beneficiary service and maintenance needs after the cap has been triggered. This cap will impact approximately one quarter of more than one million Medicare beneficiaries requiring home oxygen.
Of acute concern is CMS' decision to provide no reimbursement to providers who respond to patient-generated requests for non-routine services. Non-routine home visits often are triggered by beneficiaries experiencing clinical and equipment-related problems. CMS is undervaluing the important role that home oxygen providers can and do play in preventing costly beneficiary emergency room visits, acute care admissions and avoidable physician intervention.
The home oxygen therapy benefit is regarded as one of Medicare's most cost-effective programs and has demonstrated tremendous benefit to patients and taxpayers. Home oxygen costs the Medicare program dollars a day. Studies indicate that long-term use of home oxygen therapy reduces hospitalizations and, when hospitalizations do occur, reduces the length of the hospital stay.
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. CQRC members include AirSep Corporation, American HomePatient, Apria Healthcare, DeVilbiss Healthcare, Invacare, Lincare, Pacific Pulmonary Services, Praxair, Inc., ResMed, Inc., Respironics, Inc., Rotech Healthcare Inc. and Sunrise Medical, Inc.
SOURCE Council for Quality Respiratory Care