AAHomecare commissions oxygen study

Sunday, February 26, 2006

WASHINGTON - In response to a "whole host of threats," including the 13-month cap on oxygen reimbursement proposed in President Bush's FY2007 budget, AAHomecare announced last week that it has commissioned a study to examine the costs associated with delivering home oxygen.

"There's an ongoing need to have clear, credible data that demonstrates everything that goes into oxygen therapy and to educate CMS and Congress on that," said Michael Reinemer, the association's vice president for communications and policy.

AAHomecare has contracted Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based Morrison Informatics to conduct the study. Surveys have already been mailed to oxygen providers, and providers must complete and return them to Morrison by March 10, 2006.

Other threats prompting AAHomecare to commission the study include the OIG's plans to conduct a study this year that looks at utilization (are beneficiaries receiving the services they are supposed to get?) and reimbursement (is it too high?).

The results of AAHomecare's study will help the industry stand its ground against "whatever issues the OIG study may bring up," Reinemer said.

There's also the recently passed 36-month cap on oxygen reimbursement. The results of the study may be used to ensure a fair service and maintenance fee once ownership of equipment is transferred to beneficiaries.

"Data is important to lay the groundwork for policy that makes sense clinically and represents the best value for beneficiaries and taxpayers," Reinemer said. "It's also needed to fight the assumptions out there. Some on the Hill have argued that oxygen is strictly about a piece of equipment when it amounts to much more."