AAH hopes to 'lock up switchboards' with patient call-in

Sunday, June 4, 2006

WASHINGTON - The industry's latest attempt to engage beneficiaries in its campaign against the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement will take the shape of a patient call-in during AAHomecare's legislative fly-in June 19-20.

AAHomecare is working with The VGM Group and the MED Group to get as many beneficiaries as possible to participate in the call-in.

Providers like Don White are trying to mobilize their oxygen patients to call legislators on the fly-in's second day and urge them to support the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act. The bill, H.R. 5513, would repeal the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement.

"We have about 5,000 oxygen patients and we hope to get a few hundred to call in," said White, president of Associated Healthcare Systems in Amherst, N.Y. "If every provider gets even one patient to call, we'll lock up the switchboards."

White plans to mail his patients letters that include the names of their legislators and talking points.

Several beneficiaries are scheduled to be on hand in Washington for the fly-in, but AAHomecare wanted to shoot for involving patients from each congressional district, said Michael Reinemer, the association's director of communications.

"Legislators need to hear these concerns straight from the horse's mouth," he said. "It makes a huge difference when legislators hear from someone in their district. It makes it an issue from their district. It hits home."