Ivan Rodriguez, owner of IR Medical Equipment in Miami, is
astounded at the hit he thinks the Deficit Reduction Act will have
on his oxygen business.
“I think it will affect at least 50 percent of my
business,” he said, “and maybe more.”
Like other oxygen providers across the country, Rodriguez
expressed shock and concern over the controversial act. And he has
“What does this mean if, after 36 months, a patient calls
and I'm not being paid? What do I do?” he asked. “What
happens for patients who have already been on oxygen for that long?
And, God forbid, what happens if one of my patients dies [after the
equipment title transfers]? How will this affect liability? Will I
Such questions about how beneficiaries will receive ongoing care
and services past the 36-month rental limit have mushroomed from
stakeholders since President Bush signed the DRA Feb. 8.
AAHomecare pointed out the legislation does contain broad
language regarding “payments for oxygen” and
“maintenance and service” after the title transfer, but
said it includes “no specifics.”
Compounding the confusion, while government officials say the
DRA is a done deal, some on Capitol Hill have differing opinions as
to whether the measure is even law. Because the Constitution
dictates that each chamber pass bills in identical form, a legal
debate emerged when the Senate and House approved different
versions of the bill due to a clerical typo.
Last month, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt said he is presuming
the DRA is law, “and we're moving forward on that
basis.” But a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the
act has been filed by an Alabama attorney, and legal experts say
others could follow.
Meanwhile, AAHomecare said it has commissioned a study to
collect the exact costs of providing oxygen service.