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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Live from AARC: 'Tis the Season to Speak Out

Published December 16, 2008 12:51 AM by Colleen Mullarkey

Economic troubles have many pinching their pennies and cutting down their gift lists this holiday season. But this year, there's at least one valuable gift respiratory specialists can give their profession without spending a dime: their voice.

While many health care professionals feel helpless with competitive bidding and oxygen caps looming over their heads, Nick Macmillan, RRT said it's definitely not the time to sit back and be passive because there's much to be done. With impending oxygen caps set to start on Jan. 1, 2009, he said it's important for all respiratory professionals to take the time to understand the details of this regulation and to share their comments with members of Congress.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is accepting comments on the oxygen regulations until Dec. 29, 2008 at 5 p.m. You can submit electronic comments by going to and entering the file code CMS-1403-FC in the search bar. Then click "Send a comment or submission," fill in the required information, and include the file code in your comments.

Macmillan suggested issues to address in the comments might include the fact that there's no payment after 36 months for about 20 percent of patients, no payment for non-routine maintenance and supplies, and inadequate payment for routine maintenance. Also under the regulation, providers will have to arrange care if a patient moves out of the area, a stipulation Macmillan suggests will cause a great deal of confusion.

 He and several other presenters at this year's International Respiratory Congress encouraged attendees to let Congress know how they feel these issues will affect their practices and the profession in general.

While it's important for respiratory professionals to share their voice, it's unlikely any change to the oxygen caps will come about quickly. That's why Macmillan also highlighted the significance of assessing its impact in the coming months. He encouraged attendees to start tracking issues as they occur so they will have a record and some examples to communicate the magnitude of these cuts and caps.

It will be crucial for the profession to band together and share information and feedback with one another to navigate the murky waters ahead.



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