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Congress Takes Action to Reform Oxygen Payment for Medicare Beneficiaries

Supplemental oxygen improvements made by adequate reimbursement and access to respiratory therapists are key to the new bill.

The challenges that more than 1.5 million people across the U.S. face in accessing oxygen are largely caused by an inadequate Medicare reimbursement system and a lack of access to the skills respiratory therapists can provide to oxygen-dependent patients. After nearly two years of concentrated work and advocacy, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and the Oxygen Reform Coalition are deeply gratified to announce that bill S.3821 Supplemental Oxygen Access Reform (SOAR) was introduced on February 28, 2024, by Senators Cassidy (R-LA), Warner (D-VA), and Klobuchar (D-MN). The Coalition expects a House version of this bill to be introduced in the following weeks.

AARC prioritized the introduction of this legislation in September 2023 at its annual Washington, DC Respiratory Care Fly-In. AARC Political Action Contact Team (PACT) members had more than 200 meetings with congressional members to discuss the Four Pillars for Oxygen Reform, including payment for respiratory therapists to visit and educate oxygen patients in their homes therefore improving patient outcomes.

Recognizing respiratory therapists and their critical work is a key component of this legislation. “For years, AARC has advocated for patient access to respiratory therapist care outside the acute care setting,” said AARC President Carl Hinkson MS, RRT-ACCS, NPS, FAARC. “Along with our coalition partners, we are hopeful that this legislation will create a future where supplemental oxygen patients have the opportunity and freedom to return to a fuller and healthier life without reimbursement worry.”

“AARC is proud to be a part of the coalition and is committed to getting this legislation passed,” said Dan Garrett, AARC Executive Director “This is a remarkable day for oxygen patients as Congress recognizes the need to focus on access to care and to improve payment for supplemental oxygen so that healthcare providers can match equipment to patient needs.”

Click here to learn how to take action and write to your senators to have them support the bill.


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