O2 conference looks to build consensus

Monday, February 28, 2005

DENVER - With issues like competitive bidding and Medicare reimbursement weighing heavily on the respiratory business, the LTOT Network has announced it will hold the Sixth Consensus Conference for Long Term Oxygen Therapy (LTOT) this August in Denver.

The goal of the Consensus Conferences is to bring together all the stakeholders in the business, including physicians, patients, manufacturers and providers, to identify the problems associated with LTOT from all perspectives and make recommendations on how to address those issues.

“Oxygen reimbursement has been the factor that has driven all of the conferences so far,” said Bob McCoy, the facilitator of the event and president of Valley Inspired Products. “In 1986, it was the Six Point Plan, and in 1999 it was the 25% cut. This meeting will probably also come down to economics first.”

Other topics may include technology advancements, the issue of modality neutral versus modality specific, and how to educate prescribing physicians and patients on challenges facing providers and manufacturers.

McCoy said decisions made at past Consensus Conferences have played a role in shaping the industry, from reimbursement to new technology.

“Dr. Tom Petty [a co-chair of the conference and the so-called ‘father of home oxygen’] asked for a 10-pound concentrator back in 1986, and now there are two, so somebody was listening,” said McCoy.

“I have also been frustrated that some of the recommendations of past conferences were not acted on,” he added. “We came up with a lot of good ideas, but because we are not an association and do not have a paid staff, there are a lot of recommendations that could still be implemented.”

The fact that the LTOT Network is not affiliated with any of the stakeholders is important in brining all the side together.

“All of the associations want to do this, but they all have their own agendas and issues that they want to promote,” said McCoy. “We are kind of like Switzerland. We are neutral territory.

Provider and manufacturer participation in the conference is also encouraged. Provider representatives will be broken down into nationals, large regionals and independents, and manufacturers will also be categorized by size in order to assure equal representation in the debates.