Skip to Content

Sheer will and goodwill

Sheer will and goodwill

Being the recipient of Google Alerts for “oxygen concentrator” is a scary and sad place to be right now. 

I have these alerts set up for a number of key terms in the HME industry – think “sleep therapy” and “home infusion” and “AdaptHealth” and “Invacare.” They’re delivered to my email inbox every afternoon. 

Recent alerts for “oxygen concentrator” have been almost exclusively related to the spike in demand for this life-saving equipment in India, where the number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 400,000 per day for several days this month. 

Here’s a smattering of the headlines that have appeared in those alerts: 

Lives saved after Delhi Hospital runs French oxygen concentrator within 18 hours of its landing in India 

Four arrested for selling oxygen concentrators at higher rates 

Delhi: 115 oxygen concentrators seized from one gang, cops bust more 

Why is India running out of oxygen? 

The answer to that last question, according to NPR, which ran the story, is “decades of lack of spending on public health in a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.” 

India, according to NPR, spends about 1% of its gross domestic product on health care. The United States, by comparison, spends nearly 18%. 

But that 18% isn’t even enough, at least not for some sectors of health care. 

Take the thousands of HME companies that provide oxygen concentrators and that have watched their Medicare reimbursement chipped away at by a budget neutrality requirement, a competitive bidding program and other negative regulatory measures. 

It was a big win for the industry when Congress told CMS to drop the budget neutrality requirement for oxygen late last year, resulting in an increase in fee schedule amounts, but let’s face it, a lot of what has kept the supply of oxygen concentrators alive in the U.S., even as our country recorded hundreds of thousands of COVID cases a day, was the sheer will and goodwill of providers and the manufacturers who supply them with equipment. 

Provider Tyler Riddle recently posted on Twitter, in response to a CNN article on the dire situation in India: “The only reason this didn’t happen in the USA in 2020 was because of DME providers. Full stop.” 

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care recently submitted testimony to Congress urging lawmakers to pursue a number of relief measures to preserve access to oxygen concentrators and other respiratory therapy equipment and services. 

If lawmakers are smart, they’ll follow the CQRC’s advice. 


To comment on this post, please log in to your account or set up an account now.