Update: On Wedneday, November 30, 2016, the House passed the measure with sweeping bipartisan support. Read more here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 28, 2016)—The Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC)—a coalition of the nation’s leading home oxygen therapy provider and manufacturing companies—today encouraged lawmakers to promptly pass the 21st Century CURES legislation, which contains a provision to extend the phase-in period of deep Medicare cuts to Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS), including home respiratory therapy equipment and services. Specifically, the CURES bill includes a provision to:

  • Extend the phase-in retroactively of Medicare cuts to home oxygen care from July 1 to December 31, 2016
  • Study the impact of Medicare cuts on beneficiaries and suppliers during the extended phase in period
  • Establish a rulemaking process for setting fee schedule rates, including the consideration of the actual costs of providing patient care, for items and services provided on or after January 1, 2019

“We applaud the goals of the 21st Century CURES legislation and commend lawmakers in the House for inserting a provision to provide some relief to the draconian Medicare cuts to home respiratory therapy provided in non-competitive bid areas. This therapy has been shown to improve patient outcomes, prevent hospitalizations and reduce Medicare spending. We encourage the House to pass the bill promptly and the Senate to do the same,” said Dan Starck, Chairman of CQRC. “While home respiratory suppliers will continue to seek further relief from these cuts in 2017, this is a very positive step. We are especially pleased that the legislation also includes a requirement for CMS to re-evaluate the method by which it sets the fee schedule rates. We look forward to working with the new Administration and the new Congress to address our ongoing concerns to ensure quality patient care is not at risk.”

Home respiratory therapy leaders have been calling on Congress to enact legislation that would provide relief for cuts that took place when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) applied the competitive bid rates used in urban areas to rural and other non-competitive bid areas that Congress specifically excluded from the DMEPOS competitive bid program. The CQRC estimates the impact of the application of competitive bid rates in these areas equals a cut of up to 50 percent.

Home respiratory therapy equipment and services are vital to managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other pulmonary conditions. Data show home respiratory therapy reduces preventable hospitalizations and readmissions, suggesting that reduced access to quality respiratory care in the home would result in increased emergency room (ER) visits and hospital readmissions, therefore negatively impacting patient outcomes and increasing otherwise avoidable Medicare costs.

“While readmission rates across the Medicare program has dropped measurably, readmission rates for COPD patients have remained steady, signaling a need for increased access to respiratory care services in the home that are proven to improve outcomes, not cuts that limit the availability of home oxygen care,” added Starck.

Visit cqrc.org for more information.