Thursday, August 23, 2007

House-Passed Medicare Bill Would Cut Additional Billions in Funding for Home Oxygen Beneficiaries; Ohio's Seniors to Face Significant Medicare Cuts

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ohio will be severely impacted by provisions in the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP), legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on August 1, 2007 that will cut additional billions in funding for Medicare beneficiaries on home oxygen therapy and directly impact 21,500 of the state's senior citizens who receive this critical therapy in their homes. If enacted into law, the bill will cut almost $2 billion in Medicare funding for home oxygen therapy over the next 5 years -- $81.2 million in Ohio alone.

The House-endorsed bill will cap Medicare funding at 18-months for home oxygen therapy, a benefit on which more than one million Americans nationwide rely. Nationally, nearly half of the more than 1 million seniors who rely on this benefit will be affected by these cuts.

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care, a coalition of the nation's leading home oxygen providers and manufacturers, strongly opposes any further cuts to Medicare funding for home oxygen therapy. Peter Kelly, Chairman of the Council and CEO of Pacific Pulmonary Services, Inc., urged congressional leadership to eliminate these Medicare cuts from final legislation when the House and Senate meet to reconcile their respective bills. According to Kelly, "Congress has already made sweeping changes to the home oxygen benefit as part of both the Medicare Modernization Act and the Deficit Reduction Act, changes that take effect in 2008 and 2009 and that will cut Medicare home oxygen funding by 19 percent. We are deeply concerned that further Medicare cuts at this time would deal a destabilizing blow to the home oxygen therapy benefit and the Medicare beneficiaries who are dependent upon it for their care."

Recent research shows that "access to services such as home oxygen...can decrease the need for hospitalization" of Medicare patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bacterial pneumonia. The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, was published in the June edition of the journal Medical Care.

A state-by-state breakdown of the Medicare cuts concludes that Florida, Texas, California, Ohio and Michigan, states with the largest number of home oxygen beneficiaries, will feel the greatest impact of the proposed cuts. The CQRC data is based upon recent analysis of the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of Medicare spending reductions from the 18-month rental cap.

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care is a group of the nation's leading home oxygen therapy providers and manufacturers, representing a majority of the more than one million Medicare patients who depend on the home oxygen benefit for their care in order to live in an independent environment. The Council was formed to work closely with policymakers and their staffs to facilitate a deeper understanding of the clinical, operational, and service- related complexities associated with the provision of this life-enhancing benefit.

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