WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 13, 2019)––The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC)—a coalition of the nation's leading home oxygen therapy provider and manufacturing companies—commends a bipartisan bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives that will help ensure America’s most vulnerable respiratory patients receive uninterrupted access to the non-invasive ventilators (NIV) they need to live.

The Safeguarding Medicare Access to Respiratory Therapy (SMART) Act of 2019 would protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to critical home ventilation therapy by delaying the inclusion of ventilators from the Medicare durable medical equipment competitive bidding program for five years. It would also establish a technical expert panel (TEP) to update national coverage policies for home mechanical ventilator devices so that they reflect technological advancements and peer-reviewed science.

The bipartisan legislation, which was introduced by Representatives Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Peter Welch (D-VT), is designed to address potential access issues expected to arise from the inclusion of NIV in the Competitive Bidding Program beginning next year as finalized in the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, & Supplies (DMEPOS) Final Rule for CY2020.

NIV stakeholders—from suppliers to patients—worry that the program’s untested methodology could cause disruptions in the market for this critical, life-sustaining equipment.

“We commend Congressmen Griffith and Welch for their dedication to ensuring vulnerable patients get the care they need,” said Dan Starck, Chairman of CQRC. “Since it is not clear how this new, untested competitive bidding program will affect home oxygen suppliers and their patients, it is inappropriate to include non-invasive ventilation in the system at this time. We applaud this pro-patient legislation, which promotes a cautious, evidence-based approach to covering critical supplies like NIV.”

Congress has long been concerned about patients’ access to NIV. In a letter submitted to CMS in June, 180 House lawmakers, including Reps. Griffith and Welch, wrote, “Ventilators are highly specialized and care-intensive devices that allow fragile, medically complex patients to remain in their home,” and, “Even brief delays in access to clinical ventilator support can prove dangerous or even fatal and would likely mean patients are no longer able to receive their care at home.”

“We urge Congress to quickly pass the SMART Act so that respiratory care to those living with COPD, ALS, and other debilitating diseases, and depend on an NIV to breathe, will not be disrupted,” added Starck.

Visit cqrc.org for more information.