Ohio TV airs O2 ‘fleecing’

Friday, December 31, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio - HME suppliers here were on defense in November, following a Fleecing of America-type story on oxygen reimbursement that aired on a local news station, according to the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers.

The story brought to light a complaint from one elderly couple who felt that concentrators, like their home CPAP machine, should be a capped rental item under Medicare. The reporter also interviewed Columbus-area provider and AAHomecare Chairman Tim Pontius, who touted the industry’s perspective.

“Tim Pontius’s interview was aired, and he did an excellent job of making the point that the actual cost of the oxygen concentrator is only 28% of the cost of providing that service,” said Kam Yuricich, OAMES’s executive director.

Still, Yuricich said she felt the story was one sided, focusing more on the couple with the complaint than home medical patients in similar situations.

“I would have preferred to see one patient’s situation versus another patient’s situation. It would have been more apples to apples,” she said.

Yuricich, along with representatives from Columbus Prescriptions, brought the reporter to the home of a woman who has adopted several medically fragile children to highlight the services HMEs provide to concentrator patients. None of that footage aired in the story.

“I truly believe the reporter was pretty amazed at the level of care that can be delivered at home, and he seemed interested in doing a follow up story on this patient and her family,” said Yuricich. “That’s good, but we missed out on a rebuttal in this story.”

The reporter also contacted the office of Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, to discuss the complaints made by the elderly couple. The couple, who has both a concentrator and CPAP in their home, was upset that they were able to purchase their CPAP while the concentrator remains a rental item.