America comments on HME

Sunday, December 16, 2007

NEW YORK CITY - Seventy-five readers submitted email comments to the New York Times discussion board related to the paper's Nov. 30 story, "Oxygen Suppliers Fight to Keep a Medicare Boon." By far, the majority of those submitting comments took a dim view of the HME industry and other special interest groups. Editors at the Times chose eight comments that seem to represent the range of reader opinion. Here are excerpts from those eight:

The article is very one-sided and provides many inconsistencies. It's a shame the writer did not get the COMPLETE story. The cost of a product on the Internet is for the product only. The cost to Medicare (and other insurances) includes not only the product but also numerous other services. They include, but are not limited to, the fact that most home medical equipment companies provide both a delivery technician and a respiratory therapist that is on-call 24/7 for emergencies, regular follow-up and maintenance of equipment. -- Ted, Pa.

This New York Times article is but another example of the power of the lobbyists. Because of them, few items are purchased by the government for a price that is not far greater than the price for the same item in the general marketplace. Until these practices are brought under control, the business community will continue to have free access to the taxpayers' wallet. -- Chesshaus, Dunnellon, Fla.

Lawmakers fail to realize what it costs to run a business. If someone buys an oxygen system from a retailer or on eBay, they will not get 24-hour on-call services or disposable supplies. They will not get routine maintenance on equipment, which will prolong the life of the equipment. They will not get the educational services and support they need. Home medical equipment companies are much more than just a business. The elderly rely on us. You get what you pay for. -- TLP, Conn.

This example of mis-pricing is a useful reminder that Medicare's vaunted administrative efficiency has side effects. The article also doesn't mention how Medicare is such a large healthcare buyer that it distorts prices in the entire healthcare industry. One of the reasons for the excessive pay of specialist doctors in relation to primary care doctors is this Medicare effect. -- Joe, New York

Pigs at the trough. The tactics and behavior of this industry and its executives is disgusting: Manipulating vulnerable seniors through half-truths and lies in order to line their pockets and those of their political supporters. -- Littleleaguer, Mudville

That is one of the problems with having the government involved with health care, or in any other service. There is little incentive to look at costs.
-- Tom Paine, Windham, N.H.

To comment on the story in the New York Times or to read other comments, go to this link: