CQRC Celebrates National Respiratory Care Week

CQRC urges Congress to pass H.R. 8158 to waive budget neutrality for home oxygen services, supplies and equipment.

Washington, DC, October 26, 2020 --(PR.com)-- Today the Council for Quality Respiratory Care celebrates the beginning of National Respiratory Care Week, which kicks off today and continues through October 31. The annual event, sponsored by the American Association for Respiratory Care, recognizes the critical role that respiratory therapists play in promoting patient health. In celebrating this commemorative week, CQRC commends respiratory therapists for their efforts to ensure continued access to care - even as outdated Medicare policies threaten to limit beneficiaries’ access to the home oxygen supplies and equipment they need.

Despite the growing importance of home respiratory care during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, Medicare has continued applying outdated budget neutrality provisions that undervalue home oxygen supplies and equipment, and threatened to force some suppliers out of the market, particularly in rural and suburban areas of the United States.

The budget neutrality provision was originally included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 in order to help manage spending associated with adding new oxygen benefits, but the way Medicare prices oxygen has substantially changed in the nearly quarter-century since. Because Medicare’s competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment has substantially lowered oxygen rates from those that existed when the budget neutrality provision was implemented in the 1990s, the provision is no longer necessary and is actually counterproductive to care delivery and patient access.

“The budget neutrality provision has led to troublingly low rates for oxygen supplies and equipment in both rural and suburban markets,” said Crispin Teufel, CQRC Chair. “We urge Congress to take action this year to pass legislation to correct this outdated Medicare policy to ensure continued patient access to respiratory care for both those living with chronic conditions and individuals recovering from COVID-19.”

Fortunately, Congress is aware of the problem and is considering a legislative fix would waive Medicare’s budget neutrality requirement for oxygen and oxygen equipment. If enacted, H.R. 8158 would implement a much-needed technical change to Medicare payment rules in order to ensure rural patients’ continued access to oxygen supplies and equipment. CQRC strongly urges Congress to pass H.R. 8158, which is an opportunity to modernize the Medicare program and protect beneficiaries’ access to home respiratory care.

To participate in the national conversation about National Respiratory Care Week on social media, include #RCWEEK20 in your posts.

To read the text of H.R. 8158, click here.

About the Council for Quality Respiratory Care
The CQRC is a coalition of the nation's seven leading home oxygen therapy provider and manufacturing companies. To learn more, visit cqrc.org and follow CQRC on Twitter at @TheCQRC.
Ellen Almond