Medicare Changes Force Seniors to Shoulder Costs of HME – Ken Speaks Out

Posted on in HME Government Issues

For many Medicare beneficiaries, the July 1 funding cuts aren’t a matter of inconvenience but a true restriction of access for life-sustaining equipment. After Ken, a beneficiary in Tallassee, Alabama, saw how devastating the recent Medicare changes have been on his community, he decided to speak out.

**IMPORTANT** At the bottom of this article you will find three actions you can take to help stop Medicare’s attack on rural health care before irreversible damage is done. Your action is critical as the industry works to pass legislative relief in the next coming weeks.

Ken’s Story:  Fearful elderly won’t be able to afford oxygen anymore with cuts

In the small, rural, southern town of Tallassee, Alabama, retiree Ken K. keeps busy as a minister for his local community church. For the past six years, Ken and his wife have benefited from sleep apnea treatment, each using a CPAP at night to help manage their sleep disorders and prevent low blood oxygen levels, hypertension, heart disease and other serious problems that can occur if left untreated.

In June, Ken got a letter from the local home medical equipment company that he and his wife have been using for years. Due to an extreme reduction in Medicare funding for covered items like Ken’s CPAP, the company was being forced to change its business operations and start charging its customers up front for the cost of the equipment. 

Ken’s company explained that since Medicare reimbursement dropped by 59 percent effective July 1, the company can no longer “accept assignment” to consider Medicare reimbursement payment in full. As a result of Medicare’s inadequate funding, patients like Ken are now having to shoulder the burden of the costs of the equipment, supplies and services above and beyond what Medicare will pay the company to provide them. Ken and his wife must now pay the full costs out of pocket and wait for Medicare to send them partial reimbursement.

“My fear is that an elderly person like my mother, who suffered from COPD and required oxygen therapy, won’t be able to afford to get her oxygen anymore” says Ken. As he reflects on the members of his congregation, Ken tells People for Quality Care that his elderly and disabled members are already in a financially and medically fragile state. With this new Medicare policy change, Ken knows that many of them will be in a position where they have to choose between their food, health care and rent. 

“For many in our community who have Medicare, medical supplies and equipment are now simply out of reach,” laments Ken. “It’s unconscionable that we would do this to our elderly. These are the people that were instrumental in building this country. They deserve better treatment.”

Impassioned with a great desire to serve the least of these, Ken is reaching out to his elected officials and encouraging others to do the same

The industry needs your help now!

Join Ken and the HME industry in advocating for preserved access to medical equipment by:

  • Sending this press release to your local media to grow public awareness of the cuts.
  • Sharing this video (produced by MAMES State Association) on your social media pages and websites to make seniors aware of the issue.
  • Completing the VGM Supplier Impact Survey to help strengthen the HME industry’s case for legislative reform.