Medicare Rule on Paying for Oxygen Vexes Patients
As a Respiratory Therapist working for a DME company it is essential for all patients to be provided with superior care. This rule on paying for oxygen vexes patients will compromise patient care by limiting the patients ability to find a new supplier if moving to a new address. The suppliers are comprehensive about taking on a patient that is approaching their cap. This is forcing patients to pay out-of-pocket for oxygen services because of inability to find a willing supplier at the new location. Please consider all oxygen patients and reverse this ruling.
Glenn Steinke RCP said:Jun 22, 09 at 5:36 pm
NEW OXYGEN POLICY SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF PATIENTS AND PROVIDERS. I have owned a small DME company for over 30 years, and have spent a good number of those years adjusting our operations to compensate for reimbursment cuts. The only avenue available to help offset the continued attack on DME companies is a reduction in service to our elderly customers. Congress has shown a lack of guts and foresigtht by picking on the weakest link in the Medicare provider system. They are tearing apart an industry that holds one of the keys to curbing increases in Medicare spending, and the current policy on Oxygen therapy shows a complete misunderstanding of our industry and the level of service involved in providing Home Oxygen Therapy. Certainly CMS can find providers willing to provide this therapy at a reduced rate of reimbursment, but that will come at a high cost in the long term to patients and Medicare. Providers of Home Oxygen should be reimbursed at a higher rate, and be required to provide a higher level of service. I have already experianced three of the most dreaded scenarios for small companies regarding the Home Oxygen Cap. 1. I had to tell a dying patient that she could not relocate here to be near family, as she was only 3 months away from her oxygen being “capped out”, and my company could not afford to take care of her for Free if she lives another 2 years. 2. We serve a very rural area covering 10,000 sq. mi. from one location, and there were 2 local providers of Oxygen therapy. One has since left(due to reimbursment cuts), and now serves their patients from an office 200 mi. away. I was contacted by one of their customers who was recently hospitalized due to a delay in response time re: equipment failure. This patient wanted to transfer to our service, as we see our patients regularly, and are able to respond to problems immediately. I had to tell her she was “stuck with a bad provider” due to her oxygen being capped in 1 more month. If we accepted this patient, we would have to provide all of our services for a measley $40 every 6 months, financially this was not an option for us. 3. A capped Oxygen patient has moved to another location out of our service area, and we now must find and reimburse another supplier for 2 years untill her equipment can be replaced. Essentially, we have been required by Medicare to take care of this patient for 3 years, for 1 years worth of reimbursment. This is an unrealistic and unsustainable policy, developed by people at CMS that “don’t have a clue” when it comes to running a profitable business. I do not believe that this is what Congress intended in the legislation that was inserted by Rep. Thomas at the 11th hour. Patients are told if they can move, or not, are trapped with a poor quality supplier, and many small businesses will collapse. This is not the way of a free society, and a scary glimpse of government run healthcare for all (except for those making the policies).