A Morning Consult report indicates that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has reduced Medicare payments for home oxygen services for COPD patients.

COPD can be effectively managed through oxygen therapy and sleep therapy to improve outcomes and reduce overall Medicare expenditures. The proper management of COPD in the home is critical to reducing emergency room (ER) visits and hospital readmissions. Data show long-term use of oxygen therapy measurably reduces readmissions.

Despite all of these facts, the CMS has chosen to deeply reduce Medicare payments for the home oxygen services required to keep COPD patients healthy and out of the hospital and other costly facilities. On January 1, CMS began applying the competitive bid rates used in urban areas to rural and other non-competitive bid areas. This policy is being phased-in over only a 6-month period, taking full effect on July 1 and resulting in a 30-50 percent cut to home respiratory therapy. Additionally, another set of cuts of approximately 18 percent was just applied on July 1.

Across the healthcare world, we consistently hear about the Triple Aim – a widely supported policy goal that seeks to improve the patient experience of care, improve the health of populations and reduce the cost of health care. Home oxygen care is a vital tool to achieving these goals, however Medicare policies that reduce payment put patient access to oxygen supplies and services at risk, hindering the ability of oxygen suppliers and providers to effectively support the goals of the Triple Aim and manage a potentially deadly medical condition.

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