While the ownership of oxygen equipment will stay with providers, the 36-month rental cap will remain, according to much-anticipated new oxygen payment rules from CMS.
Timed perfectly for the Halloween holiday, the new policy states that the rental payments will cover oxygen equipment, contents, maintenance, supplies and accessories, but not the costs of providing the services and maintenance associated with the core oxygen benefit.
Once the 36-month period is past, providers must still provide any equipment, supplies, accessories and contents medically required during the five-year useful lifetime of the original oxygen equipment.
Also, under the new rules, providers must continue to care or arrange care for patients when they move, even if the move is outside the provider’s normal service area.
The new regulations can be viewed in full as a PDF available at CMS’s DME site.
A statement from AAHomecare released in response to the new regulations labeled the policies as “alarming” and “wholly inadequate,” and said the association expects one-third of home oxygen patients relying on Medicare to be impacted by CMS’s new rules.
“Once again, CMS has discounted the important role that homecare providers play in provision of care to Medicare patients on home oxygen therapy,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tyler Wilson, in the public statement, adding that the new regulations ignore “the required range of services and the realities of providing quality oxygen therapy to Medicare beneficiaries who suffer from COPD and other lung diseases.
“We fear that this approach will jeopardize seniors’ access to the level of care they require and have come to expect from their oxygen providers,” Wilson added. “The rules released by CMS yesterday underscore the fact that the current Medicare oxygen policy is seriously flawed and changes are needed in order to make the oxygen benefit more focused on patients and the services they require.”