Supplemental Oxygen Bill Introduced with CHEST Support

In early March 2024, CHEST published an exciting announcement of their support of the supplemental oxygen bill, aimed at improving access to oxygen therapy for patients with chronic lung disease. This bill, introduced with bipartisan support, seeks to address the challenges patients face in obtaining affordable and appropriate oxygen therapy. It emphasizes the importance of ensuring equitable access to this vital treatment, particularly for those in underserved communities. The bill’s provisions include establishing reimbursement rates for home oxygen services and enhancing Medicare coverage for portable oxygen concentrators. This legislative initiative underscores CHEST’s commitment to advocating for policies that enhance the quality of care for patients with respiratory conditions.

The full bill: 

Cassidy, Warner, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Create Easier Access to Supplemental Oxygen for Medicare Beneficiaries

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to ease access to supplemental oxygen for Medicare beneficiaries. The Supplemental Oxygen Access Reform (SOAR) Act of 2024 would establish a new payment methodology for non-liquid oxygen, allowing for most Medicare beneficiaries to be covered under the base payment levels.

“Patients who need supplemental oxygen often have other health problems. Making it easier to get their oxygen is one less thing they must worry about,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“Respiratory care is lifesaving for so many patients, but too often access to this care is cost-prohibitive or simply not accessible. This legislation will ensure that supplemental oxygen is affordable and accessible for Medicare patients, allowing them to live the healthier, more active lives they deserve,” said Senator Warner.

“Supplemental oxygen is a life-sustaining treatment for individuals suffering from respiratory and heart diseases, and it should be accessible to patients who need it,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will protect access for seniors on Medicare who use supplemental oxygen both in and away from their homes.” 

“Today is an important day that has been years in the making for the American Lung Association and so many of the people who we serve who rely on supplemental oxygen every day. Thanks to advancements in research and treatment, most people living with severe lung disease can live active lives. Unfortunately, too many people face challenges in getting the right type and levels of oxygen required to do day-to-day activities. This is why the SOAR Act is critical to the 1.5 million people in the U.S. who need supplemental oxygen. Thank you to Senators Bill Cassidy, Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar for championing this legislation. The American Lung Association urges members of Congress to cosponsor and swiftly pass this truly life-changing bill,” said Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association President.

“As an association focused on improving care within chest medicine, we believe that access to oxygen is critical for many of our patients,” said Jack D. Buckley, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of the Chest Physicians. “This is one of the main advocacy pillars for our organization because it is so crucial to maintaining the quality of life for patients struggling with chronic lung disease. Without adequate access to oxygen, these patients have enormous difficulty with normal daily activities, such as traveling to the grocery store or getting to their next doctor’s appointment.” 

The SOAR Act would: 

  • Remove all oxygen and oxygen equipment from Medicare competitive bidding
  • Establish a separate base payment rate for liquid oxygen with an add-on payment for liquid oxygen at 6 liters/minute and higher;
  • Create a new add-on to the supplemental oxygen rate to reimburse for respiratory therapist services when providing supplemental oxygen to Medicare beneficiaries; and
  • Establish protections for Medicare beneficiary supplemental oxygen users.

The SOAR Act is supported by the American Lung Association, American Association for Respiratory Care, Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Council for Quality Respiratory Care, American College of the Chest Physicians, COPD Foundation, American Thoracic Society, and Alpha-1 Foundation.

You can find the full CHEST announcement HERE. 

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This post was published by The APAPP staff on behalf of the author(s) – listed above.