Gasping for breath

Gasping for breath

Medicare has decided it is spending too much on home oxygen service, which it probably is. But instead of using its mammoth negotiating power and ability to set the rules to rein in costs, it wants patients to negotiate the price of their oxygen service with providers once they’ve had the equipment for 13 months.

Just to be clear we are talking about people who are crippled by respiratory problems to the point where they can’t breathe well on their own.

Here’s my question — is Grandma allowed to keep breathing oxygen while negotiations are underway, or does she have to give up the tank until she reaches a deal?

“Republican delusions that health care can work like any other market apparently know no bounds,” says Robert Berenson, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a top Medicare administrator under President Clinton. “They now even extend their notions of an ownership society to people in their last months of life.”

See ‘Ownership’ Dose for Medicare in the Wall Street Journal for more.

February 28, 2006

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