COPD Foundation, PFQC partner to ‘amplify patient voice’

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

WASHINGTON and WATERLOO, Iowa – The COPD Foundation has partnered with People for Quality Care, the advocacy division of The VGM Group, to protect access to home oxygen therapy for Medicare beneficiaries.

The partnership will better position the two groups to collect data on the access issues created by competitive bidding, and share it with CMS and Congress.

“By collecting patient stories, the COPD Foundation and People for Quality Care are demonstrating that, while competitive bidding may be saving CMS money, it is harming patients across America,” the COPD Foundation stated in a press release. “The partnering of our two organizations will ultimate serve to amplify the patient voice and concerns as it relates to healthcare.”

Competitive bidding has negatively impacted access in a number of ways, the groups say. Providers that didn’t win contracts and providers that have closed their doors have resulted in service disruptions and confusion for beneficiaries, they say.

Additionally, the program has forced providers that did win contracts to cut back on their product and service offerings to maintain profitability, the groups say.

“Given the inability to obtain adequate oxygen and supplies, the patient will become more homebound, more invisible,” stated Jim Nelson, a state captain for the COPD Foundation, in the release. “With the resultant lack of activity and social interaction, many patients will grow weaker, more susceptible to exacerbations. This will likely result in the necessity for much more expensive medical treatment in an ER or hospital setting.”

The groups say that any money saved through competitive bidding will be overshadowed by the increased costs of this more expensive treatment.

“Savings are nice, but not when they impair the physical and mental health and quality of life of millions of Americans,” stated Bill Clark, director of patient support and outreach for the COPD Foundation. “We can and must do better.”