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New York Times Examiones Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy

Armen Hareyan's picture

Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy

The New York Times, in a Nov. 30 article about Medicare home oxygen therapy, "misses the most salient points inthe debate" over the treatment, Peter Kelly, Chair of the Council for Quality Respiratory Care, writes in a Times letter to the editor (Kelly, New York Times, 12/7). In the article, the Times

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highlighted the prices that Medicare pays for oxygen equipment.Individuals who purchase oxygen equipment from pharmacies and otherretailers pay about $3,500 for a three-year supply. Medicare, ratherthan purchase oxygen equipment, pays as much as $8,280 to rent theequipment for 36 months and cover the cost of other services thatcritics say are often unnecessary (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/30).

Accordingto Kelly, the "article focused on oxygen therapy as merely equipmentrental," but "it is in fact a highly regulated, prescribed medicaltreatment." He continues, "Patients not only require equipment but alsocorresponding services that are essential in ensuring that they ...effectively manage their incurable lung disease."

Kelly alsostates that if oxygen therapy is used correctly, it "reduces thefrequency and duration of hospitalizations, resulting in programsavings of hundreds of millions of dollars, while allowing patientssuffering from severe lung disease to remain stable at home." Kellyconcludes, "When analyzing Medicare policy for home oxygen therapy, itis critical that policymakers and the oxygen therapy community worktogether toward thoughtful reforms that balance appropriate Medicarefinancing with the intensive service needs of this vulnerable patientpopulation" (Kelly, New York Times, 12/7).

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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.