• Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act of 2006
  • Have you heard about the portion of S.1932, the Senate Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, that relates to oxygen users? This portion, inserted at the last minute by Congressman Bill Thomas, Republican of Bakersfield, CA, will impact the lives of all oxygen users now and in the future if allowed to stand unchanged. In response to this disastrous provision Congressman Joe Schwarz, MD, a Republican from Michigan, introduced HR 5133 (also known as the "Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act of 2006") in the House of Representatives. Congressman Tom Price, MD, a Democrat from Georgia, co-sponsored this bill. We congratulate these two Congressmen, and the others who have joined them, for their bipartisan efforts in a Congress not known for bi-partisanship. While they represent both parties, they also both are physicians who understand the serious disruption S1932 will have on oxygen delivery systems in this country. These Congressmen need your support!
  • Pulmonary nurse Chris Garvey has done such an excellent job of explaining these laws to her colleagues and friends that we will copy her letter for you rather than rewriting one of our own. But first, we would like you to read the letter of support written by Dr. Tom Petty to Congressman Joe Schwarz for HR 5133.

THOMAS L. PETTY, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
899 Logan Street, Suite 103
Denver, Colorado 80203-3154
Phone: 303 996 0868
Shared Fax: 303 831 6035
Email

May 30, 2006

Honorable Joe Schwarz
United States Congress
7th District of Michigan
House of Representatives
128 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Via E-Mail and FAX

Dear Representative Schwarz:

  • I wish to applaud the leadership of you and your co-sponsors of HR 5513, which will help the future of patients requiring long term home oxygen (LTOT). I hope your proposal will result in a revamping of oxygen reimbursement, and recognize the advantages of ambulatory oxygen, which has a strong scientific foundation.
  • LTOT began in Denver at the University of Colorado with our work in 1965, first published in 1967. We demonstrated a dramatic reduction in the strain on the heart and a great improvement in exercise and quality of life with ambulatory oxygen. Later I chaired the Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial (NOTT), which was one of two major international studies that showed that LTOT improved survival. This landmark study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Ambulatory oxygen resulted in better survival than stationary oxygen. Hospitalizations were far less frequent in ambulatory vs. stationary oxygen patients.
  • We now have the technology to make "wearable oxygen" which weighs about 4.5 lb, which is another giant step in improving the quality of life in LTOT patients. Reimbursement for ambulatory patients must be greater that for home bound patients for obvious reasons of cost to the supplier. At today's reimbursement rate of about $2400 per year, and one day of hospitalization for COPD costing $3600 per day, the decision seems obvious. I recognize the difference between Medicare A and reimbursement budgets, but it is still money in the national budget!
  • As one of the pioneers who helped begin the movement to LTOT, which now serves 1.2 million Americans, I hope your efforts in gaining passage of your important legislation are successful. For the past 20 years, I have organized and co-chaired six Oxygen Consensus Conferences. The most recent was published this month.
  • If I can be of any assistance to you or your aides, I would be delighted to help.
  • Sincerely yours,

  • Thomas L. Petty, M.D.
    Professor of Medicine
    University of Colorado Health Science Center
    President, Snowdrift Pulmonary Conference
  • And here is the letter from Chris explaining what these laws mean.
  • I am normally reluctant to request political involvement of others. However, recent legislation has the potential to leave home oxygen users with sole responsibility for maintenance and replacement of their home oxygen equipment. The Deficit Reduction Act passed by Congress earlier this year will require persons using oxygen to assume ownership and responsibility for their home oxygen equipment after 36 months of rental under Medicare. This potentially leaves frail persons with the responsibility to repair, replace, maintain and troubleshoot equipment that may keep them clinically stable at home.
  • I am asking you to consider supporting the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act. This bill would change Medicare oxygen coverage back to its previous state, which provides allowance for ongoing maintenance and support from respiratory therapists and medical equipment companies.
  • This legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by two physicians; Congressman Joe Schwarz MD of Michigan and Congressman Tom Price MD of Georgia. It is clear that Medicare spending must be controlled, however, making oxygen-dependent patients serve as their own respiratory therapists and medical equipment company can only result in increased ER visits and overall Medicare costs.
  • Please consider asking your Member of Congress to cosponsor H.R. 5513, the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act. The switchboard number at the U.S. Capitol is 202-224-3121. You can look up your Member of Congress and at www.house.gov
  • Chris Garvey FNP, MSN, MPA
  • Thanks to both Dr. Petty and Chris Garvey for informing us about these laws. We hope that all of you get involved and call and/or email your regional member of Congress to express your views. We leave you with one last thought from Dr. Petty, himself a user of oxygen.
  • "It will be key for ambulatory patients to speak loudly about quality of life, productivity, and prevention of hospitalizations to Congress. Good luck. Tom"