Power outage illuminates oxygen cap pitfalls

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When stormy weather caused power outages in Pennsylvania on March 8, Medical Express in Bristol provided backup oxygen cylinders to five patients. It was all in a night's work for President Bill Bayer, but it might not be after Jan. 1, 2009.
That's when, as part of the 36-month cap on home oxygen therapy, providers must transfer ownership to certain patients.
In a letter following the storm, Bayer told his congressman, Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., about the changes in service his constituents will likely experience next year.
"We were trying to share a personal and timely story with him and his staff," Bayer said.
Bayer hopes the letter will shake Murphy's staff out of its usual response: "They say, 'Well, we get letters from CMS and the OIG that say you're overpaid,' so they ignore the pleas of small business owners and constituents," he said.
Have no fear of Medicaid
Providers usually cringe when a payer transitions to a new billing system, but Bill Fredericks has high hopes for Massachusetts Medicaid.
"The nice thing about this is they included providers in a advisory group for this going back a couple of years," said Frederickson, owner of Allcare Medical Supply in Millbury and the Massachusetts chair for the New England Medical Equipment Dealers. "They took a lot of what we had to say and put it into the system."
Medicaid plans to launch the system in September. It will give providers hands-on training over the summer. HME