The need for oxygen reform is well known among patients and providers. And yet, many challenges arose from the Congressional payment reform strategy known as competitive bidding. Congress believed that promoting competition among durable medical equipment (DME) providers would reduce the amount the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) paid for oxygen and other items of DME, resulting in considerable savings for the program. Unfortunately, while competitive bidding may have reduced costs, it threw the DME industry into a tailspin and significantly reduced patient access to supplemental oxygen and oxygen equipment.
As a member of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Oxygen Workgroup, chaired by Susan Jacobs, RN, MS, FGAAN, a pulmonary research nurse at Stanford, the AARC and other groups came together and crafted the “Pillars of Oxygen Reform.” These Pillars address how Congressional leaders could reform oxygen billing and reimbursement to enhance patient access. Twenty-four organizations have now signed the Pillars, asking that Congressional action ensure oxygen is matched to patients in a medically appropriate way.
The development of the Pillars shows how critical it is that legislation include a patient bill of rights to guarantee individual needs are met, especially the ability to have access to liquid oxygen when prescribed. Most important to the AARC is the request that legislation create a statutory service element that would cover the cost of the services of respiratory therapists.
We will keep our members informed as additional actions are taken.
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