The House of Representatives last week passed a bill to reauthorize the children’s health insurance program. In a move that astonished many in the HME industry, House members rejected a tobacco tax in favor of further cuts to seniors’ Medicare oxygen program to help underwrite the program. An 18-month cap on oxygen equipment rental and the elimination of the first-month purchase option for power chairs was part of H.R. 3162, the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act of 2007.
Several representatives in the House expressed concern about the home care cuts in the bill including Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), lead sponsor of the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act, referred to a recent letter opposing the oxygen cut delivered to Congress from AAHomecare, the Council for Quality Respiratory Care, COPD-ALERT, the National Emphysema and COPD Association, and the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Separately, the Senate is considering amendments to its version of its reauthorization bill, S. 1893, to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35 billion over five years. The industry is making a major push to ensure that the version of the legislation eventually passed by the Senate does not include the oxygen or power wheelchair provisions. Once the Senate takes action, its bill will have to be reconciled with the House bill passed last week, so industry lobbyists said late last week that opportunities still remain to head off oxygen and power wheelchair cuts.
AAHomecare recently updated the phone script for providers to contact their representatives at www.aahomecare.org To contact the switchboard to the U.S. Capitol, call (202) 224-3121.