Oxygen Spared from 13-Month Cap, Announces Mixon, VGM
Most award recipients use the acceptance speech as an opportunity to humbly thank the industry that made the award possible. But for industry veteran Mal Mixon, the AAHomecare Humanitarian Dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 19 proved to be the perfect forum for charging the home care industry and breaking news on the oxygen front.
On the head of the Sept. 15 release of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) study that encouraged a 13-month cap on oxygen, Invacare's CEO and the recipient of the 2006 AAHomecare Humanitarian award announced that a 13-month cap would not be in the cards after all. Mixon, calling the OIG report "a biased, flawed, stupid study," announced that he had been in talks with Washington that day and had confirmation from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that oxygen was safe from the chopping block for now. The 13-month cap had been part of a plan to stop a reduction in physician reimbursement.
"I want to particularly thank VGM and Apria who mobilized their entire workforce," said Mixon, also applauding the state of Iowa in their efforts to denounce the OIG study in Washington. "I'm going to sleep a lot better tonight," he said.
VGM's John Gallagher echoed Mixon's announcement at the VGM legislative update the following morning.
The OIG study ignored the service component of oxygen equipment, reporting that CMS need only reimburse for the actual cost of the equipment a mere $587. VGM took offense to the study, said Gallagher, and from the Medtrade show floor, organized efforts to send faxes to all providers encouraging them to contact Sen. Grassley. Mixon, on the phone with Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, received word that Sen. Grassley had halted the 13-month cap on oxygen. Grassley reportedly said that he had heard from his constituents.
Though oxygen is saved from the cap for now, efforts continue. Gallagher encouraged providers to use the time before the lame duck session to meet with representatives and get involved with campaign efforts.
Mixon said, "Our industry is under attack from its own government." He urged other states to step up to the plate like Iowa. "Our society is going to realize home care is the answer."
This article originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of HME Business.