Congress Introduces SOAR Act to Improve Supplemental Oxygen Access


Mar 27, 2024 | Healthcare & Policy |     

Congress Introduces SOAR Act to Improve Supplemental Oxygen Access

The Supplemental Oxygen Access Reform Act (SOAR) of 2024, designed to ease access to supplemental oxygen for Medicare beneficiaries, was introduced in the US House of Representatives by a bipartisan group of members of Congress. 

The legislation, introduced by Representatives David Valadao (R-CA), Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Julia Brownley (D-CA), is identical to S.3821 introduced by US Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Feb 28. The SOAR Act would establish a new payment methodology for liquid oxygen and for supplemental oxygen patients to access respiratory therapists.

“Access to supplemental oxygen stands as a cornerstone of healthcare for countless Hoosiers and Americans grappling with respiratory challenges,” says Bucshon in a release. “As a cardiothoracic surgeon for over 15 years, I’ve experienced firsthand how important it is to safeguard access to supplemental oxygen, and as a legislator, I recognize the need for comprehensive reforms. I am proud to help introduce this critical legislation to ensure the availability of this vital medical resource for years to come.”

More than 1.5 million people across the US face challenges in accessing oxygen, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care. These roadblocks are largely caused by an inadequate Medicare reimbursement system and lack of access to the skills respiratory therapists can provide to oxygen-dependent patients.

“Advocating for improved patient access to respiratory care outside the acute care setting would allow supplemental oxygen patients to lead fuller and more robust lives without financial hardship worries,” says AARC president Carl Hinkson MS, RRT-ACCS, NPS, FAARC, in a release. “We look forward to continuing to work with our coalition partners, the House, and the Senate to turn these necessary policy changes into law.”

COPD Foundation CEO Jean Wright, MD, MBA, says in a release, “This bill will ensure that every patient covered by Medicare can access the oxygen they need, when they need it, without unnecessary barriers or restrictions.”

Jack D. Buckley, MD, MPH, FCCP, president of the American College of Chest Physicians, adds in a release, “It is encouraging to see this important bill brought in front of Congress for approval. As an organization of pulmonary experts, we see firsthand the suffering of those with severe chronic lung diseases, like interstitial lung disease, who lack sufficient access to necessary oxygen therapies.”

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

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