Oxygen reform efforts heat up

Friday, July 31, 2009

WASHINGTON--At press time in early July, various industry groups were jockeying for position to lead efforts to reform Medicare’s home oxygen therapy benefit.

AAHomecare expected Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., to introduce its oxygen reform bill the week of July 13. The Committee to Save Independent HME Suppliers (CSIHME) and NAIMES announced July 10 that they drafted a “simplified” oxygen reform plan and presented it to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

AAHomecare’s oxygen reform plan would, among other things, eliminate the 36-month cap, reclassify suppliers as providers and link reimbursement to patient needs.

On the morning of July 10, “AAHomecare held a strategy call which gathered a representative group of members who could speak for all sectors of the HME community to make sure we are working in a coordinated fashion both on the Ross bill and in counteracting threats of further cuts to the oxygen benefit,” said Tyler Wilson, president of the association.

In June, Ross sent a letter signed by 70 lawmakers to the Ways and Means Committee, asking its members to include oxygen reform language in healthcare reform legislation.

CSIHME’s plan, Home Oxygen Therapy Services (HOTS), would, among other things, address utilization issues by preventing patients from migrating to a higher reimbursement category, eliminate the 36-month cap and recognize oxygen as a drug regulated by the FDA. Additionally, it would be modality-neutral, allowing appropriate payments for new technology such as portable oxygen concentrators, and save $1.2 billion over five years.

CSIHME also seeks to have its plan included in healthcare reform legislation.