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Provision in House of Representatives-Passed Medicare Bill Would Cut Additional Billions in Funding for Home Oxygen Beneficiaries; New York's Seniors to Face Significant Medicare Cuts

Friday, August 24, 2007 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 New York will be severelyimpacted by provisions in the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of2007 (CHAMP), legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives onAugust 1, 2007 that will cut additional billions in funding for Medicarebeneficiaries on home oxygen therapy and directly impact 19,700 of the state'ssenior citizens who receive this critical therapy in their homes. If enactedinto law, the bill will cut almost $2 billion in Medicare funding for homeoxygen therapy over the next 5 years -- $74.1 million in New York alone.

The House-endorsed bill will cap Medicare funding at 18-months for homeoxygen therapy, a benefit on which more than one million Americans nationwiderely. Nationally, nearly half of the more than 1 million seniors who rely onthis benefit will be affected by these cuts.

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care, a coalition of the nation'sleading home oxygen providers and manufacturers, strongly opposes any furthercuts to Medicare funding for home oxygen therapy. Peter Kelly, Chairman ofthe Council and CEO of Pacific Pulmonary Services, Inc., urged congressionalleadership to eliminate these Medicare cuts from final legislation when theHouse and Senate meet to reconcile their respective bills. According toKelly, "Congress has already made sweeping changes to the home oxygen benefitas part of both the Medicare Modernization Act and the Deficit Reduction Act,changes that take effect in 2008 and 2009 and that will cut Medicare homeoxygen funding by 19 percent. We are deeply concerned that further Medicarecuts at this time would deal a destabilizing blow to the home oxygen therapybenefit and the Medicare beneficiaries who are dependent upon it for theircare."

Recent research shows that "access to services such as home oxygen ... candecrease the need for hospitalization" of Medicare patients with chronicobstructive pulmonary disease and bacterial pneumonia. The study, conductedby researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change and MemorialSloan-Kettering Cancer Center, was published in the June edition of thejournal Medical Care.

A state-by-state breakdown of the Medicare cuts concludes that Florida,Texas, California, Ohio and Michigan, states with the largest number of homeoxygen beneficiaries, will feel the greatest impact of the proposed cuts. TheCQRC data is based upon recent analysis of the Congressional Budget Office'sscoring of Medicare spending reductions from the 18-month rental cap.

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care is a group of the nation'sleading home oxygen therapy providers and manufacturers, representing amajority of the more than one million Medicare patients who depend on the homeoxygen benefit for their care in order to live in an independent environment.The Council was formed to work closely with policymakers and their staffs tofacilitate a deeper understanding of the clinical, operational, and service-related complexities associated with the provision of this life-enhancingbenefit.

SOURCE Council for Quality Respiratory Care
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