In brief: Consumers hit Capitol, association mails NCB packets

Sunday, May 4, 2008

WASHINGTON - COPD patients and family members from 16 states descended on Capitol Hill last week to ask federal legislators to reject any further cuts to Medicare funding for home oxygen therapy. The patients also presented legislators with a letter from the National Emphysema/COPD Association (NECA) that explains why they should protect the oxygen benefit. The patients and the association argue that before making additional cuts to oxygen, legislators should first evaluate the impact of recent cuts, including a 36-month cap on Medicare reimbursement. Barbara Rogers, president and CEO of NECA, stated: "Though it is difficult for many users of home oxygen to travel, our members feel strongly enough about this issue to come to Washington today and tell their legislators first-hand about the effectiveness of the home oxygen program, and how any additional cuts to the Medicare-financed home oxygen care may create an unstable environment for vulnerable beneficiaries." The patients, representing more than 12 million Americans with COPD and other degenerative lung conditions, traveled from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

NAIMES mails NCB packet to Senate members
HALIFAX, Va. - The National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) last week mailed a "STOP Competitive Bidding" packet to all 100 members of the Senate. The packet contains a CD with a 5,200-signature petition sorted by state for easy reference. It also contains other documents asking Congress to act now to stop the implementation of Round 1 of competitive bidding on July 1. NAIMES also plans to mail packets to members of the House Ways and Means Committee. The association asks providers to call legislators to inform them of the petition. It stated in a release: "Comments from thousands of patients, physicians, caregivers and suppliers on the petition provide the industry with powerful tools to help legislators better understand the impact of competitive bidding."

NPI test drive
WASHINGTON - On May 7, CMS and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society want participating clearinghouses to submit Medicare claims with national provider identifiers (NPI) only. Claims submitted through clearinghouses with NPI/legacy pairs will be stripped of the legacy identifier before being sent to Medicare. If claims are processed and paid, the provider is ready for the May 23 start of the NPI program. If claims are suspended or rejected, the provider needs to correct possible problems beforehand. On May 8, clearinghouses will again submit claims with NPI/legacy pairs.

Report: Obesity worsens asthma
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Obesity can worsen the impact of asthma and mask its severity, according to researchers in New Zealand. The researchers studied lung function in asthmatic women with a range of body mass indexes and reported their findings in the May issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society. The researchers are the first to reveal a significant comparative difference in how the airways and lungs respond to a simulated asthma attack in obese and non-obese individuals. They established a direct link between obesity and the development of a phenomenon known as "dynamic hyperinflation," when air breathed into the lungs cannot be exhaled. For their study, researchers recruited 30 asthmatic women and divided them into three groups by body mass index (BMI): normal weight, overweight and obese. They had each woman breath nebulized methacholine to induce an asthma-like attack and assessed changes in their lung function. Researchers found that with increasing BMI, functional residual capacity was higher and inspiratory capacity was lower.

Respiratory market to hit $22B in 2010
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The global respiratory care equipment and supplies market will hit $22.1 billion by 2010, according to a report released last week by Global Industry Alliance. Driving the growth: increasing cases of chronic respiratory disorders due to age, smoking and industrial pollutants. Asia-Pacific ranks as one of the fastest growing markets for respiratory care equipment and supplies with an expected compounding annual growth rate of 8.51% from 2011 to 2015. The alliance forecasts pulmonary function testing equipment in Europe to reach $247.5 million by 2012 and spirometers in Asia-Pacific to reach $211.9 million by 2015.