• Proposed Legislation Mandating Competitive Bidding for Oxygen
  • There is some very important legislation coming up in Congress, which would attempt to mandate competitive bidding for oxygen.  Do you know about it?  Well, read on to see what is happening in Washington.  The Cape Cod COPD Support Group, led by Jo-Von Tucker, is doing their best to fight this pending competitive bidding legislation.  (Jo-Von is co-author of that great book Courage and Information for Life with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.)  Read the letter they have sent to all of their Senators and Congressman.  I hope this inspires you to also take action on this important issue.  Feel free to use the following letter as a guide.

  • July 20, 2002
  • The Honorable Edward Kennedy
  • Dear Senator Kennedy:
  • Both the House and the Senate are currently considering legislation that would mandate competitive bidding for home oxygen currently provided as a Medicare benefit to approximately 800,000 Americans. We are fearful that such a move would have a seriously deleterious effect upon the availability of compact, ambulatory oxygen systems and related medical services currently provided by oxygen companies.
  • Medicare payment methodology for oxygen is based upon a modality neutral model, creating strong financial pressures to provide the cheapest oxygen equipment. Unfortunately, the cheapest equipment available is invariably a stationary system such as electric concentrators or huge, heavy cylinders that supply compressed gas. These methods effectively tie the patient to a tether, or short cord, to their oxygen supply. Medical evidence is accumulating that use of lightweight ambulatory oxygen is more effective in restoring vital functions than oxygen delivered by stationary systems. Both length and quality of life is increased and hospital stays reduced by the use of these portable liquid oxygen systems. Patients such as ourselves are more able to exercise regularly and to take care of our living chores on our own like grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments. Being able to get out and socialize, attend support group meetings, and to be able to spend time away from home with family members and friends helps us to avoid bouts of depression, which can prey on COPD patients.
  • If price alone determines eligible suppliers under Medicare, there will be significant pressure to eliminate or reduce services and high quality product lines. We believe that it is bad public policy to auction off the needs of Medicare beneficiaries who suffer from a debilitating chronic illness like obstructive pulmonary disease. We are also concerned that the program would literally destroy thousands of small businesses like oxygen providers. And that it would virtually eliminate the services to COPDers of respiratory therapists and other medical professionals. We urge you to oppose legislation that would establish competitive bidding, or specifically exempt oxygen supplies, services and equipment from it. Thank you for your consideration.
  • (Signatures attached.)
  • For the greatest impact, this should be sent to your Senator and Congressman or woman.  Please pass this information along to your pulmonary physician and any one you know who is on oxygen.  Let your voices be heard!