Scientific data supports LTOT’s cost-effectiveness

Saturday, July 31, 2004

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - AAHomecare’s new white paper on the cost effectiveness of home respiratory therapy may not on its own convince lawmakers that they shouldn’t cut Medicare oxygen reimbursement, but it is a “step in the right direction,” said Joe Lewarski, one of the paper’s co-authors.

“This paper is only the tip of the iceberg, only the beginning,” said Lewarski, who is home care section chair for the American Association of Respiratory Care. “The point is that home oxygen therapy is a cost effective and important treatment for patients with COPD. It is one of the, if not the best alternative, to more costly therapies, including being admitted to the hospital and sub-acute care.”

AAHomecare released the white paper in June during its Legislative Conference in Washington. The paper collected data from scientific journals and statistics from the Medicare Web site.

For example:

- One full year of home oxygen (approximately $2,400) costs Medicare about the same as one day in the hospital.

- Home oxygen for COPD costs $1.8 billion a year or less than 1% of all Medicare expenditures but 40% of all Medicare expenditures for respiratory therapy and home medical equipment.

- The direct medical costs for COPD in the U.S. total $18 billion a year or nearly 9% of Medicare expenditures.

By continuing to collect verifiable, objective data the industry will build its case that LTOT is the most cost-effective alternative when it comes to treating COPD, said Asela Cuervo, AAHomecare’s vice president of government relations.

“If you are going mining for dollars in the healthcare system, this is not a place to go mining,” Lewarski said. “That was a key part of our argument.”