Medicare cuts threaten Nantucket oxygen supply

Cape Medical Supply, a local supplier of oxygen therapy for homebound patients in Nantucket, Mass., withdrew services for new patients on the island, citing extreme cuts in Medicare reimbursement, according to Cape Cod Times.

The Medicare cutback reduced the reimbursable fee for renting an oxygen concentrator from $102.56 to $86.61 per month. Last year, the fee was $180.92 per month.

The cuts represent Medicare's attempts to lower the costs of healthcare. However, Gary Sheehan, president and CEO of Cape Medical Supply, argues Medicare does not take into account that home medical supply companies offer services along with products and cannot cut costs as easily as larger urban suppliers.

Mr. Sheehan said his company will continue to serve the 30 existing customers it has in Nantucket.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital, which has a different source of oxygen supply for inpatients, is scrambling to find alternative suppliers for discharged patients.

"It is quite possible that patients who require new oxygen therapy at home will need to stay in the hospital longer until an interim solution is found. The hospital would not discharge a patient in need of home oxygen without an appropriate solution in place to accommodate their needs following discharge," said Jason Graziadei, the hospital's public information officer.

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