Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Budget Proposal Reduces Access to Power Mobility for Disabled Americans and Cuts Home Oxygen in Medicare, Impairing Access to Life-Sustaining Therapy

Cuts to home oxygen resurfaced again in the President’s budget, forcing Medicare patients to assume responsibility for owning and managing medical oxygen equipment in their homes after 13 months of rental. Oxygen is a prescription drug regulated by the FDA that requires strict adherence to clinical standards and appropriate monitoring to ensure patient compliance with treatment. Congress has reduced Medicare reimbursement for oxygen therapy by nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years. And deep additional cuts, apart from the President’s proposal, are scheduled to take effect within the coming year.

Another provision included in Bush’s 2009 budget would make providers become lending institutions for the federal government. The provision would eliminate Medicare beneficiaries’ option to purchase a power wheelchair in the first month and thereby establish a forced 13-month rental period. This change would reduce beneficiary access and increase costs to Medicare, requiring durable medical equipment companies to provide financing for a patient’s wheelchair.

According to the Bush administration, the proposed budget would produce $178 billion in spending reductions over five years from 2009 to 2013. All of these Medicare reductions would require legislative action.

“For now, both Congress and the White House seem to be leaning toward smaller health care companies, like home care providers and oxygen-equipment makers,” says the Associated Press.
Many groups, including the American Association for Homecare, have expressed opposition to provisions in the budget which will weaken seniors’ access to durable medical equipment and therapies required in the home. For more on this story or AAHomecare’s response to the President’s proposed 2009 budget view the following links:

AAHomecare’s press release http://www.aahomecare.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=2

Congress Likely to Reject Hospital Cuts, CNN Money http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/apwire/ae04ceb102e081d06338df4862f2da14.htm

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