Field report

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At least one large provider is going against the grain and providing more liquid oxygen to patients, sources say.

This provider allegedly seeks out patients who are in the two-year period between their monthly oxygen reimbursement capping out after three years and their receiving new equipment at five years. The provider sets up patients on liquid oxygen and bills Medicare $150 per month - $75 to refill their stationary units and another $75 to refill their portable units.

“They’re working this angle big time,” said one source.

For other oxygen systems, providers can bill only $75 per month for refills.

Sources report that the provider has no problem getting new prescriptions for liquid oxygen from physicians.

“Some docs prefer liquid systems,” one source said. “As for the others - the provider tells them they’re going to be saving their patients $20 per month in electricity.”

Sources report the provider’s strategy isn’t the end of the world for competing providers.

“All of a sudden Medicare’s expenditures double,” said one source. “It’s one of those laws of unintended consequences that I don’t think CMS realizes.”