Number of oxygen providers dwindles, group says

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MIAMI – The number of oxygen providers in certain areas of the country has declined by as much as 50%, says the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America (AMEPA).

In Los Angeles County in California, there are currently 120 oxygen providers, compared to the 258 that existed in April 2008, according to Medicare's Web site. During the same time, in Miami-Dade County in Florida, the number of oxygen providers dropped from 401 to 205.

Riverside County in California saw a 56% drop in the number of oxygen providers, from 48 last year to 21 this year. Those providers cover a 7,200-square-mile area, according to AMEPA.

Rural areas have also seen a decline in the number of oxygen providers. Leavenworth County, Kansas, and Hunt County, Texas, have both seen a 50% drop, from 10 providers to 5 providers each.

AMEPA attributes the drop-off to the 9.5% reimbursement cut that went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, the 36-month cap on oxygen payment, and expenses related to accreditation and surety bond requirements.