Legislator introduces bill to repeal oxygen cap

Sunday, May 28, 2006

WASHINGTON - Joe Schwartz, a republican congressman and medical doctor from Michigan, introduced a bill Friday that would repeal the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement that was passed earlier this year as part of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA).

The bill also would restore ownership of oxygen equipment to providers. The DRA requires providers to transfer title of oxygen equipment to beneficiaries after three years.

Cosponsors of H.R. 5513, the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act, include another doctor, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and four representatives from Ohio: Ralph Regula, Patrick Tiberi, David Hobson and Tim Ryan.

The oxygen cap has raised numerous patient-safety issues and AAHomecare and other patient and provider stakeholder groups have vigorously opposed the changes. The chief worry: How will beneficiaries maintain the equipment following the 36-month cap?

"This bill can help a million Americans breathe easier," said Tom Ryan, chairman of AAHomecare, in a release. "The association urges all homecare providers, patients and their families to urge members of Congress to co-sponsor and pass this extremely important bill."

AAHomecare met with Schwartz on Thursday to discuss the bill.

In its release, the association acknowledged the efforts of Jackson, Mich.-based Great Lakes Home Health and Hospice and its CEO William Deary, in getting the bill introduced.

"As a physician, Congressman Schwarz brings to the Hill a unique and important perspective regarding the challenges of both patients and healthcare providers, especially with regard to intelligent and pragmatic regulatory reform," Deary said in the release.