Florida's Home Oxygen Community Facing $154 Million in Cuts to Medicare Benefit for Seniors

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 General News
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Home Oxygen Providers Urge Federal Lawmakers to Protect

Seniors and Rescind Nearly $2 Billion in Medicare Cuts Nationally

State-by-State Analysis Ranks Florida #1 in Medicare Cuts Impacting Seniors

WHAT: With Congress back in Washington following August congressional recess, national and Florida based home oxygen therapy providers are calling on federal lawmakers to eliminate devastating Medicare cuts proposed in the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act 2007 (CHAMP), passed by the U.S. House of Representatives early last month. The bill will cap Medicare funding at 18-months for home oxygen therapy, a benefit on which more than one million Americans nationwide rely. Nationally, nearly half of the more than 1 million seniors who rely on this benefit will be affected by these cuts, which amount to nearly $2 billion over five years. The Senate version of the bill known as SCHIP, does not include Medicare cuts.

Prior to passage of the CHAMP Act, Congress made sweeping changes to the home oxygen benefit as 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 home oxygen funding by 19 percent. Home oxygen therapy providers are deeply concerned that further Medicare cuts at this time would deal a destabilizing blow to the home oxygen therapy benefit and the Medicare beneficiaries who are dependent upon it for their care.

An estimated 125,000 Florida seniors are Medicare beneficiaries using the home oxygen benefit, according to 2005 statistics. Approximately 41,000 Floridians will be directly impacted by the 18-month rental cap.

As the House and Senate bills will soon go to Conference in order to negotiate a final bill, home oxygen therapy providers are urging lawmakers to stand up for their most vulnerable constituents by calling on the House leadership to cancel the Medicare cuts as a means of financing the CHAMP Act.

WHO: Peter Kelly, President and CEO of Pacific Pulmonary and President of the Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) will speak to the challenges faced by home oxygen therapy providers across the nation forced to absorb massive Medicare cuts.

Tyler Wilson, President and CEO of American Association for Homecare will speak about the impact of Medicare cuts on small, rural providers as well as the cost benefits of home oxygen therapy for patients and taxpayers.

Gary Kopczyk of Apria Healthcare-Miramar will speak about the direct impact these cuts will have on the patients he serves as well as home oxygen patients and Medicare beneficiaries across Florida.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - 11:00 AM EDT **To participate in the teleconference, please dial (800) 762-4717 and ask for Medicare Cuts to Home Oxygen Therapy ** To RSVP, please contact Rebecca Reid at 1-410-212-3843 or email reidconsulting@comcast.net.

CONTACT: Rebecca Reid, +1-410-212-3843, reidconsulting@comcast.net, for CQRC.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire - Sept. 11/

SOURCE Council for Quality Respiratory Care

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