Dole's vested

Monday, December 31, 2001

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Former Senator Bob Dole is campaigning for healthcare again.

First it was Viagra. Then an effort to expand Medicare's homebound definition. Now Dole is working with a company that makes and distributes a device that helps people with chronic lung diseases breathe easier.

At an October press conference, Dole touted Advanced Respiratory's Vest, which administers percussive therapy to the chest, as helpful for veterans suffering from COPD.

In October, Dole joined Advanced Respiratory and approached the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Anthony Principi with an offer, which the VA accepted, to let all 163 VA hospitals try The Vest; and work with every interested U.S. veteran and his doctor to provide a Vest for a 60-day in-home trial.

Dole is not a paid spokesman for Advanced Respiratory, but the law firm he works for, Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, does lobbying work for the company.

The Vest looks like life jacket. Once blown up to a physician's prescribed pressure, the Vest oscillates at 25 pulses per second, loosing and bringing up secretions that can be coughed or suctioned out.

"It's a simple concept, but there are several benefits," said company spokesperson Kerstin March. "It frees the patient from having to rely on a caregiver and improves the quality of the life in the home. Or the elderly can come home from the hospital and their spouse can help them. People are more apt to stick with the therapy and keep their lungs clear."

Advanced Respiratory manufactures, distributes and services the Vest with a staff or about 150 respiratory therapists around the country. The company's success with veterans could have an indirect effect on HMEs who work with the VA; the goal of the Vest is to help veterans leave the hospital sooner and live at home longer, March said. HME