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AARC Comments Focus on RT as the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist


For Immediate Release


IRVING, TX (January 29, 2007) The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) has submitted comments asking for development of a national coverage policy for pulmonary rehabilitation in response to a request from the Medicare program.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the government agency that oversees the Medicare program, asked for comments by Jan. 27 regarding the feasibility of creating a national policy covering pulmonary rehabilitation reimbursement. In written comments, AARC submitted the following:


Any NCD for pulmonary rehabilitation issued by CMS should clearly recognize the importance of the respiratory therapist to provide the required physician-ordered pulmonary rehabilitation services.
Respiratory therapists are the health care professionals most directly involved with the delivery of pulmonary rehabilitation services. The respiratory therapist by definition has formal education and documented competency in the provision of all aspects of lung disease treatment and management. In any given pulmonary rehabilitation program, the respiratory therapist can assume the role of program manager, program coordinator, clinical specialist or as a member of the pulmonary rehabilitation staff.

AARC's comments focused on the need to involve respiratory therapists in pulmonary rehabilitation programs, adding to its previously submitted comments to CMS on the definition of, the components of, and the clinical effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation programs. AARC has previously provided input on this issue with other physician and healthcare organizations also interested in pulmonary rehabilitation.


The comments solicited by CMS on pulmonary rehabilitation coverage coincidentally come at a time when new pulmonary rehabilitation legislation has been introduced in Congress. The Senate and House have both introduced bills (S. 329 and HR. 552) calling on Medicare to develop a national coverage policy.


“We think the fact that both Congress and CMS are focusing on pulmonary rehabilitation bodes well,” said Cheryl West, director of government affairs for the AARC. “With both groups working on a common issue, we may perhaps see some important changes in pulmonary rehab coverage.”


For updated information on AARC's activities in Washington DC, please see http://www.aarc.org




Sherry Milligan
American Association For Respiratory Care
(972) 406-4656