Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lew Morris of HHS Office of Inspector General Displays Contempt for Oxygen Patients and the Facts on “Dan Rather Reports”

On a January 18, 2010 broadcast of “Dan Rather Reports,” Lew Morris, who is general counsel of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, had this to say about recent activities by the home oxygen community:

“Those who supply these [oxygen] concentrators organized, even brought senior citizens dragging oxygen tanks behind them to go up on the Hill and beg their representatives not to cut their oxygen supply, not to let them die, not to let the price of this critically valued piece of equipment be reduced. And Congress heard. So, the Medicare program was stopped from reducing those prices.”

Of course, the idea that Medicare has not cut oxygen prices is not just inaccurate, it’s preposterous. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, for instance, included a 9.5 percent cut to Medicare oxygen reimbursement rates, which took effect on January 1, 2009. That came on top of a long series of cuts to oxygen that amount to reductions of approximately 50 percent over the past 10 years. Producers at “Dan Rather Reports” were informed of this by the American Association for Homecare well in advance of their January 18 segment, but they chose to ignore it.

Is it asking too much to expect accurate or fair reporting from Dan Rather, or the HHS Office of Inspector General?

1 comment:

Wayne Stanfield said...

I have never been more disappointed in someone so respected in the news world. This report is beyond biased and unbalanced. How can a respected journalist not only take such liberties with the facts, but do a story with only the views from one side? Despite attempts and offers to help with the report, this reporter chose to ignore input from AAHomecare and others, and malign an industry he knows nothing about.

It makes one wonder who's behind such irresponsible reporting. Why report such erroneous news? Such stories make the public and legislators presume that the entire industry is like the image created by this story. The fact is that waste, fraud, and abuse in the DME industry is less than 0.01% of the total waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare.

How can a public official like Lew Morris get away with showing such contempt for a part of the healthcare system he is tasked with overseeing? Isn't it time he went after the big fraud bucks in Medicare? Or is it just that going after the other 99.9% would ruffle the feathers of the people spending the big lobby bucks?

Obviously neither Mr. Morris nor Mr. Rather has ever been to a mobility or oxygen supplier, nor ever considered how the DME community works. This latest slap at the thousands of small businesses across the country dedicate to serving patients in their homes demands an apology from both of these individuals.

I feel strongly that this must be the last time the DME industry lets such a blatant character assasination go unchallenged.

Let's take Mr. Rather and Mr. Moris to task about this story and better still, lets take them both to a supplier for a day and show them how wrong they are about the DME industry.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Wayne Stanfield, President & CEO, NAIMES