Opponents face off over oxygen reform

Thursday, August 6, 2009

YARMOUTH, Maine – The industry’s debate over oxygen reform heated up this week, as providers on both sides of this issue e-mailed out arguments that underscore their different positions.

On one side of this issue is AAHomecare, which supports Rep. Mike Ross’s oxygen reform bill, H.R. 3220. On the other side is NAIMES and CSIHME, which opposes the bill.

On Aug. 7, AAHomecare e-mailed out “An Open Letter to Oxygen Providers,” signed by seven providers and four state associations. The letter states: Those in the oxygen community who have complaints about provisions in the Ross bill can point to no other viable legislative option at this juncture for protecting the oxygen benefit. We think the best course of action is to work within the oxygen community to improve the Ross proposal rather than to kill the entire initiative and hope that something better will surface in the coming months. Without a viable reform proposal in the pipeline, oxygen providers face the more likely prospect of further unmitigated cuts to the benefit when the Senate and House reconvene in September.

On Aug. 4, NAIMES President Wayne Stanfield e-mailed out “Editorial Comments From The NAIMES President.” In it, he stated: I agrees that the DME industry must "unite", but it is debatable as to who is keeping the sides apart.  According to an informal count of suppliers opposing the Ross bill or advancing it as an amendment, it is clear that those opposing are in the majority.  The question then becomes if the majority oppose the bill, when will its supporters accept the fact that they need to reach across the divide to unite.  Anyone who cares to go back over the chronology of the past 7-months can clearly see how this chasm developed and why small suppliers are untrusting of the supporters of the HR 3220.  At last count the state associations representing 22 states were opposed to the bill in its current form.