Rep Heath Shuler (D-NC) [pictured] penned a strongly-worded letter this week showing his support for oxygen providers. Forwarded to members on Capitol Hill, the missive requests that Congressional colleagues ask CMS to kill new payment rules for oxygen. “Home oxygen suppliers do more than just drop off equipment to a patient,” writes Shuler. “Many suppliers, particularly smaller ones, make home visits to repair equipment, drop off replacement supplies, and ensure that patients are receiving the proper amount of oxygen.”

Under the heading of Help Protect Home Oxygen Suppliers, the letter reiterates CMS’ intention to reimburse suppliers for just one 30-minute routine maintenance visit every 6 months after the 36-month cap expires. Shuler reminds colleagues that providers will not be reimbursed for emergency visits or the replacement of supplies associated with oxygen use, such as oxygen masks. The new rules coincide with an across-the-board 9.5% cut in Medicare reimbursements to home oxygen, also due to go into effect on January 1, 2009.
The North Carolina Congressman has proved to be a friend of the industry in the past, hosting a competitive bidding hearing in May 2008 as part of his role as House subcommittee chairman of the Small Business Committee.

Results from a recent Web poll confirm that new oxygen rules would make business life "difficult" or "almost impossible" for the overwhelming majority of providers. Specifically, we asked: If new oxygen guidance remains in its current form, how tough will it be for your business to adjust? Check out the results below:

A) Easy
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B) Will Remain the Same
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C) Difficult
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D) Almost Impossible
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E) Impossible
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