OIG takes aim on oxygen

Friday, April 30, 2004

WASHINGTON - The OIG has finished collecting pricing data for a report that will be used to formulate a Medicare reimbursement cut in 2005 for home oxygen therapy. The report is expected to be released late this summer.

The Medicare Modernization Act, which President Bush signed in December, spelled out specific percentage cuts to seven top DME items based on the median price of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan. Some of the cuts could be as high as 20%. When it came to cutting home oxygen, however, the MMA required further study.

While nothing is certain, industry chatter pegs the oxygen cuts at somewhere between 5% and 15%.

AAHomecare and other industry lobbyists are combating the pending FEHBP cuts by pushing an apples-to-oranges argument, underlining crucial differences between Medicare and other federal payors. There’s also a chance that legislation could be introduced that attempts to repeal the cuts, said Asela Cuervo, AAHomecare’s senior vice president of government relations.

On April 7, AAHomecare met with OIG officials to discuss the oxygen report.

“They have done their data collection, but haven’t begun the analysis so I think we came in at a good time to point out where they need to probe more,” Cuervo said. “I think they are aware of the differences and want to make a good faith attempt to take them into account.”