AARC, providers clear up misunderstanding

Sunday, August 31, 2008

IRVING, Texas--Provider-based respiratory therapists demanded respect from the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), and in July, they got it.

The trouble began in June, when AARC began fielding calls from home oxygen beneficiaries who said that they were being told they had to switch to different equipment as a result of Medicare reimbursement changes. The association issued a memo to its members, encouraging hospital-based RTs to ensure any such switches didn’t compromise patient health.

That sent provider-based RTs into an uproar, said Kelly Riley, director of The MED Group’s National Respiratory Network.

“They felt the tone of the memo-though it wasn’t intended that way-was that hospital therapists needed to watch out for their unscrupulous homecare peers,” she said.

AARC heard them. In a July 24 letter to its members it stated: “We take this opportunity to make crystal clear that AARC recognizes the value of all respiratory therapists, regardless of setting.”

The intent of the original memo was to make sure that, despite competitive bidding and the 36-month oxygen cap, patients would continue to have access to care, said Bob McCoy, AARC’s homecare chair. The real work, for everyone, lies in educating CMS about home oxygen therapy, he said.