Florida limits O2 licenses

Thursday, November 30, 2006

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Licenses to provide home oxygen therapy in Florida have become harder and harder to come by, a healthcare attorney said recently.
The state's board of pharmacy has denied dozens of applications in recent months, says Javier Talamo of the Law Offices of Kravitz & Talamo in Miami. The reason, according to the board: The applicants lack the experience needed to provide oxygen, and therefore, pose a danger to the public.
"How are they supposed to get experience if they need licenses to provide oxygen and they can't get them?" Talamo asked.
Even those who have medical degrees don't appear to pass muster. Talamo knows of a company whose owners are a physician and a nurse from another country--denied. Specialized training doesn't do the trick, either. Med Trust offers a two-hour class that teaches members "everything there is to know about oxygen," but "that's not good enough" for the board of pharmacy, said Talamo, president of the Hialeah, Fla.-based provider service organization.
"Historically, it has been easy to become an oxygen provider, but now, the board of pharmacy is being more aggressive," he said.
Even though he hasn't received complaints from members, Raul Lopez, the president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES), wouldn't be surprised if the state is granting fewer oxygen licenses.
"Everyone claims South Florida is the fraud capital of the world," said Lopez, who's also the director of operations at BayShore Dura Medical in Miami Lakes, Fla.
The state may be better served, however, if it conducted more thorough inspections of providers, he said.
The board of pharmacy has come down harder on providers who already have oxygen licenses, too, said Alan Cross, president of C&C Homecare in Bradenton, Fla.
"Just holding onto our licenses has become more difficult," he said. "There are a lot more expectations--they want to see in-depth procedural manuals; they want to know how we handle our calls."