Provider riles up association

Saturday, May 31, 2008

NEWPORT NEWS, Va.--Provider Tom Inman caused quite a stir in March and April when he ran an ad about the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement in a couple of free syndicated publications.

Inman, president of Virginia Home Medical in Newport News, Va., created the ad to alert beneficiaries of the changes in store on Jan. 1, 2009.

The ad states that beneficiaries will be responsible for routine maintenance and making arrangements for repairs, as well as paying and making arrangements for portable refills.

It also states: In the event of a disaster, “you are no longer ‘connected’ to a provider and will have to bear any expense necessary to maintain your oxygen supply.”

A consumer passed the ad along to the Virginia chapter of the American Lung Association (ALA) and representatives there passed it along to the main chapter in Washington, D.C.

The next thing Inman knew, he was getting calls and e-mails from the ALA. Representatives there told him his ad was false. They said that, although patients would be responsible for routine maintenance, providers would be responsible for fixing or replacing concentrators if they broke; that patients would not have to pay for refills, although they may need to make arrangements for refills; and that patients would remain “connected” to providers.

Inman said he had “some of the best minds in the industry” read the ad to make sure it was accurate.

“I think the ALA’s response was immensely overstated,” he said. “I think they’ve drunk the Medicare Kool-aid.”