HME News Staff

Updated 11:14 AM CST, Fri March 1, 2024

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy, MD., R-La., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have introduced legislation to ease access to supplemental oxygen for Medicare beneficiaries by, among other things, permanently extending blended payment rates. 

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,” said Cassidy. “Making it easier to get their oxygen is one less thing they must worry about.” 

The SOAR Act proposes several reforms, including: 

  • Removing supplemental oxygen from Medicare’s competitive bidding program 
  • Permanently extending Medicare’s blended payment rates 
  • Establishing a separate payment system for liquid oxygen to restore access for those patients who need this modality 
  • Creating reimbursement for respiratory therapist services consistent with state laws 
  • Mandating the use of the oxygen template to prevent unwarranted claims denials 

The Council for Quality Respiratory Care supports the bill. 

“The SOAR Act represents a significant step toward ensuring comprehensive oxygen reform,” said Dan Starck, interim chair. “The CQRC thanks Sens. Cassidy, Warner and Klobuchar for their leadership on this bill and urges Congress to seize this opportunity and advance the SOAR Act without delay.”