The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) has launched its "virtual lobby campaign" to advocate for two issues that are very important to the U.S. COPD Coalition and patients with chronic lung disease. The AARC is asking members of the U.S. House of Representatives to co-sponsor the Better Respiration Through Expanding Access to Tele-Health Act (the BREATHE Act) when it is introduced and for Senators to support introduction of a companion bill. The BREATHE Act is a 3-year pilot that covers qualified respiratory therapists as telehealth practitioners to furnish disease management services, such as self-management education and training, demonstration/evaluation of proper inhaler techniques, smoking cessation, and remote patient monitoring to Medicare beneficiaries with COPD.
In addition to the BREATHE Act, AARC is also asking members of Congress to sign a letter to the Medicare Administrator when it becomes available directing the agency to carefully monitor patient access to liquid oxygen. According to the AARC, as of January 1, 2019, Medicare suspended its competitive bidding program that pays suppliers of home medical equipment, citing flaws in the program and the need to establish a new bidding process that leads to more accurate payment for services.
“Individuals who need supplemental oxygen, especially liquid oxygen systems, may be seriously impacted by this change which is expected to last between 18 and 24 months, e.g., gap period”, said Anne Marie Hummel, AARC's Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs. “Individuals with pulmonary fibrosis, advanced-stage COPD and those awaiting lung transplants are particularly vulnerable because they need high flow liters of oxygen which can only be provided by liquid systems. Without it they are homebound and their quality of life is diminished.”
AARC will be having its annual Hill Day on April 9th, when respiratory therapists from all over the country will gather on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their health policy staffers to discuss these important issues. The virtual lobby campaign is designed to precede Hill Day in order to make Congress aware of the issue before the Hill meetings take place. AARC is asking for respiratory therapists, physicians, other healthcare professionals, patients, family members, and supporters to reach out to Congress between now and April 9th to lend your voice to this efffort.
Click here to send your message to Congress and let your voice be heard.