WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 17, 2016)—The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC)—a coalition of the nation’s leading home oxygen therapy provider and manufacturing companies—today urged lawmakers in Congress to prioritize enactment of provisions of the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment (PADME) Act before the end of the congressional session. The PADME Act would reinstate the phase-in period of deep Medicare cuts to home respiratory care supplies and services. Both the Senate and House passed varying versions of the bill earlier this year, therefore requiring the chambers to come together on legislation to protect both patient access and quality of services.

“Congress clearly understands the vital importance of passing this bipartisan legislation. It’s time for leaders in the Senate and House to work together to enact the critical provisions of the bill,” said Dan Starck, Chairman of CQRC. “It remains clear that more time is needed to adequately measure and monitor the impact of earlier cuts that took effect on January 1 before Medicare implements deeper cuts on home respiratory care.”

The Senate passed legislation in July, which would extend the phase-in period for implementing cuts by an additional 12 months beyond the six-month phase-in the Centers and Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided. The House bill also included a reinstatement of the phase-in period. The Senate bill also would require CMS to set the rates going forward by accounting for stakeholder input and identify differences between competitive bid and noncompetitive bid areas in terms of: average travel distance and cost associated with furnishing items and services, barriers to access, average delivery time, average volume of items and services furnished by suppliers, and number of suppliers.

These cuts are the result of CMS applying the competitive bid rates used in urban areas to rural and other non-competitive bid areas that Congress specifically excluded from the DME competitive program. The CQRC is deeply concerned that these cuts put senior access to high-quality and innovative home respiratory care at extreme risk.

Bipartisan lawmakers, patient groups, physicians and industry leaders have all expressed serious reservations with the application of competitive bid rates to other non-competitive bid areas that Congress specifically excluded from the DME competitive program, underscoring the importance of delaying the cuts. Further, both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have released reports calling competitive bid rates and their application into question.

Home respiratory therapy supplies and services are vital to managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other pulmonary conditions. Data show home oxygen care reduces preventable hospitalizations and readmissions, signaling that reduced access to quality respiratory care in the home will result in increased emergency room (ER) visits and readmissions, therefore harming patient outcomes and increasing Medicare costs.

“The Congress must act now to ensure a bill reinstating the phase-in is signed into law,” added Starck. “It is also important that CMS take into account the differences between competitive bid and noncompetitive bid areas when setting noncompetitive bid rates in the future.”

Visit cqrc.org for more information.