Oxygen bill: A flurry of legislators sign on

Sunday, July 2, 2006

WASHINGTON - Supporters of a bill to repeal the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement got a boost last week when various grassroots efforts resulted in 13 new co-sponsors.

The Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act, or H.R. 5513, now has 21 co-sponsors.

Recent grassroots efforts have included a "Dear Colleague" letter from the bill's sponsors, Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.; AAHomecare's congressional fly-in, which featured an Oxygen Patient and Technology Fair and an oxygen patient call-in; and an AAHomecare-commissioned study that claims services make up 72% of the costs of providing home oxygen therapy.

The industry argues that the cap, passed as part of the Deficit Reduction Act, paints oxygen providers as little more than glorified delivery people. Providers also worry how beneficiaries will maintain equipment following the cap.

In addition to repealing the cap, H.R. 5513 would restore ownership of oxygen equipment to providers. Currently, per the DRA, providers are required to transfer the title of equipment to beneficiaries after three years.

The following representatives are new co-sponsors:

Doris Matsui, D-Calif.
Ed Case, D-Hawaii
Jon Porter, R-Nev.
Brian Higgins, D-N.Y.
Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.
Michael McNulty, D-N.Y.
Paul Gillmor, R-Ohio
Jim Gerlach, R-Penn.
Tim Holden, D-Penn.
Harold Ford, Jr., D-Tenn.
Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Jo Ann Davis, R-Va.
Virgil Goode, Jr.,R-Va.