AirSep applies for new code

Sunday, December 31, 2006

BUFFALO - While other manufacturers of portable oxygen concentrators have jumped into the Medicare market with both feet, AirSep is just getting started.
In October, CMS gave SeQual Technologies the thumbs up to begin marketing its POC, the Eclipse, as a single solution for a patient's stationary and portable needs, under the code E1392. AirSep began seeking the same code for its LifeStyle in late November. Providers have long been able to bill for Inogen's POC, the Inogen One, under that code.
With CMS boosting payment for POCs and other non-delivery technology to $250 a month beginning Jan. 1, 2007 (compared to $230 for a concentrator and cylinders), the time has come for LifeStyle in the Medicare market, said company President Joe Priest.
AirSep will not seek a HCPCS code for its FreeStyle portable concentrator. At under 5 pounds, the technology is still too expensive for current reimbursement, he said.
"We still think there is a strong market opportunity for homecare providers to look at the more expensive models, like our FreeStyle, outside the Medicare model and use it more as an ABN, private pay or rental item," Priest said.
Inogen CEO Kathy Odell petitioned CMS to create the E1392 code in 2004. She's not surprised AirSep and SeQual have obtained the code for their products.
"It continues to be the technology of the future for ambulatory patients," she said. "The fact that there are as many people getting into the development of (POCs) affirms that this is an important category of device."