Providing a voice to home oxygen patients nationwide, including patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases, the National Emphysema/COPD Association (NECA) calls the Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Act of 2009 (H.R. 3220) a patient-focused piece of legislation that protects the best interests of the nation’s 1.5 million beneficiaries and promotes quality home oxygen care.
“Home oxygen provides patients with improved quality of life by allowing them to receive oxygen safely in their home, maintain activities of daily living and remain active in their communities. We appreciate that this legislation recognizes the important patient services that oxygen users need to feel secure in their care,” said Barbara Rogers, President of NECA. “As a home oxygen user, I fully understand the critical importance of the services that accompany home oxygen care. NECA strongly supports the Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Act and encourages Congress to adopt this legislation into healthcare reform.”
The Medicare Home Oxygen Therapy Act of 2009 establishes a standard set of patient services that all oxygen providers must deliver to beneficiaries, including routine patient evaluations, patient monitoring, equipment training and maintenance and emergency services, all of which play a crucial role in ensuring oxygen users are receiving the medically appropriate level of oxygen that meets their needs and allows them to live safely and comfortably. By ensuring access to these services and important patient safeguards, this legislation recognizes that home oxygen is much more than a piece of oxygen equipment; it is a healthcare service that provides life-supporting oxygen, which enables patients to breathe.
“Without home oxygen, many patients would be housebound or in a long term care facility, so in a sense, home oxygen gives people their lives back by allowing them to maintain their independence,” Rogers said. “The average oxygen user in our community is elderly, lives alone, has multiple co-morbidities and fully depends on their home oxygen services to avoid revolving emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations associated with their COPD or other lung condition. Legislation that strengthens our benefit by assuring much-needed patient services and education is good for all home oxygen patients, across the board.”
Across the United States, more than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other degenerative lung conditions. COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death and the second leading cause of disability in the United States, and is on the rise. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, approximately 12 million additional adults are thought to have undiagnosed impaired lung function, which indicates COPD is grossly under diagnosed. As a progressive, incurable disease that causes irreversible loss of lung function, COPD can severely confine patients by limiting their daily living activities. Home oxygen therapy is one of the only effective treatments for these patients when properly used.
“An oxygen benefit that puts the needs of patients first is what our community needs, which is why we support this bill,” added Rogers.
The National Emphysema/COPD Association empowers people with COPD, their families and caregivers to improve the quality of patient care and the quality of their lives. For more information, visit www.necaweb.org.