The American Association for Homecare voiced its opposition to President Bush’s proposed 2009 Medicare budget, which would introduce new cuts on reimbursements for oxygen equipment and wheelchairs. The $3.1 trillion budget, which was announced in February, mark’s Bush’s final budget of his administration, and as of press time, was not yet approved.
“These proposed cuts show a complete disregard for the nation’s homecare safety net,” said AAHomecare president Tyler Wilson in a prepared statement. “Some of the reimbursement mechanisms in Medicare should be improved so they align better with beneficiaries’ needs. However, these proposed cuts do not improve Medicare and would be bad for patients and providers alike.”
A key issue is that the budget would see Medicare patients assume ownership of home oxygen equipment after 13 months of rental. “Medicare policy does not recognize the cost of services required in providing oxygen therapy, and the Association is concerned that oxygen policy is increasingly at odds with the clinical needs of patients,” the association said in a public statement.
The budget would also cut beneficiaries’ option to purchase a power wheelchair in the first month, which would force a13-month rental period, which, according to the association, would actually increase costs to Medicare since providers would have to offer some form of financing to pay for patients’ chairs.