Expect cuts to oxygen service, therapist says

Friday, April 25, 2014

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. – Lower reimbursement for oxygen has forced companies to reduce costs. Typically, that translates into cutting back on deliveries. Bob McCoy, a registered respiratory therapist and general manger of Valley Aire Respiratory Services, told HME News that, when it comes to cost cutting, providers are exploring all of their options.

HME News: Are we going to see more providers cutting back on services, such as deliveries and home visits?

Bob McCoy: Deliveries are their biggest cost. If they can reduce delivery, that helps them with their costs and the potential profit they’ll be making. If it’s convenient for patients, that’s fine. 

HME: How does that affect the patients?

McCoy: Providers have been cut so much that they can’t afford to provide what the patient needs. What providers are doing is necessary because of the reimbursement cuts, but the effect will be on the patients who are deconditioning faster than they used to and who are, therefore, going back to the hospitals, which will be penalized. It’s a nasty system.

HME: Other than convenience, how do home visits benefit patients?

McCoy: Eyes in the home are always best, but the drivers aren’t really trained to be clinical people. If a driver goes out and sees the patient isn’t using the oxygen and is sitting in the same chair where they were two weeks ago—or turning blue, coughing a lot or becoming sick—they can go back and tell a respiratory therapist to call. 

HME: How do providers using a non-delivery model provide the best care for patients without going broke?

McCoy: If you’re using a non-delivery model, you have to make sure the patient has the equipment they need, and that it really does oxygenate the patient. For the portable oxygen concentrator, you need to make sure the patient is adequately oxygenated at all activity levels.