Clinicians should be aware of an extremely controversial Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (S. 1932). The bill narrowly passed in the Senate on December 21st after a tie-breaking vote by the Vice President. The bill is now being returned to the House for another vote. When the House voted on the original bill, it did not contain language inserted by Bill Thomas (R - Bakersfield CA) to 'rent to purchase payment policy for home oxygen after 36 months'. After 36 month rental period, patients will own the stationary and portable oxygen systems and become responsible for maintenance, service and repair of the equipment and systems.
Implications of the bill include requiring frail patients to maintain prescribed dose and quality of oxygen, manage systems in event of natural or man-made disaster or power failure and dispose of home oxygen systems when no longer used. Medical equipment companies may be required to make financial decisions to phase out portable liquid oxygen, ration oxygen tanks and require patients to pick up refilled oxygen tanks.
This is a critical time for clinicians that care for oxygen dependent patients to voice their concerns. Oxygen dependent patients require access to ambulatory oxygen systems and ongoing clinical and technical support of oxygen providers. ATS members need to call their members of the House of Representatives to urge them to vote NO on the S. 1932. Time is short - the House is expected to vote on this bill by the end of January. We urge you to involve your patients and their family members in writing as well. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and deliver your message directly to the office of your Representative.
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