O2 cap upsets patients

Monday, July 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - When it comes to Congress' plan to cap oxygen reimbursement at 36 months, Harold Roth does not intend to be "a good sport."
"I understand the finances, but my life depends on oxygen--so does everyone's," said Roth, 72, one of about 10 oxygen patients who attended AAHomecare's Legislative Fly-in June 19-20. "I will not be a good sport, or participate in what I call the 'good sport syndrome': Just pack up and go away and die. I'm not in favor of that."
The former cardio-thoracic surgeon joined other respiratory patients during the fly-in's Oxygen Patient and Technology Fair, designed to introduce legislators to the services, expertise and technologies involved in providing home oxygen therapy. Roth and the other patients stood united in their belief that capping oxygen at 36 months and transferring ownership of the equipment to the beneficiary at that time is a bad move.
"Patients don't know what to do with the equipment," said Robert Hammond, 72, of Silver Spring, Md. "I couldn't do it if I had to do it myself. I might not be getting the right flow."
Kenneth Krammer, 63, of Dale City, Va., said he's "totally against" the oxygen cap and competitive bidding for DME.
"I don't want to go with the lowest bidder," said Krammer. "I'm retired military. I know what the lowest bidder provides: junk."
With the cap, Krammer and the other patients had a number of questions: Once the cap kicks in, who will repair and maintain the oxygen equipment, and how much will the patient have to pay for that? They criticized politicians for passing the cap as part of the Deficit Reduction Act without considering these critical issues.
"The American public is being had by people and politicians who don't think before they act," Krammer said.
Added Roth: "There is no choice: You either get oxygen or you go to the hospital. They need to guarantee that people who need oxygen are going to get it 24/7."