The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) is urging pulmonary disease patients, healthcare providers and oxygen suppliers to use new guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest rules, issued March 30, waive the in-person testing and signature for delivery requirements for supplemental oxygen. These new policies will protect patients with respiratory illnesses, such as pulmonary fibrosis (PF), while also ensuring that they receive the necessary care and supplies at home.
“These CMS rule adjustments will allow patients to remain as safe as possible and avoid exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19, while continuing to receive lifesaving oxygen,” said William T. Schmidt, President and CEO of the PFF. “We were proud to lead several national healthcare organizations in advocating for public policies that will improve the lives of our patients and caregivers.”
Last week, the PFF initiated a joint letter to CMS detailing the urgency and need for effective change in supplemental oxygen protocols. The PFF recruited other organizations to join the letter, including the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), American Lung Association (ALA), American Thoracic Society (ATS), COPD Foundation, LAM Foundation, National Association for the Medical Direction of Respiratory Care (NAMDRC), Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), and Three Lakes Foundation (TLF). The groups requested that, given the current global health pandemic, CMS waive all in-person testing requirements for patients receiving supplemental oxygen for the first time, as well as for patients who require recertification for oxygen prescriptions. The groups also urged CMS to waive the requirement for signature at delivery of supplemental oxygen.
According to CMS, this vital enforcement will remain effective throughout the public health emergency of COVID-19, allowing the utmost flexibility for medical professionals to care for patients. This action comes as CMS expands telehealth services for Medicare recipients so that healthcare facilities can accommodate increased patient volumes.
PF is a debilitating and complex disease which causes progressive scarring in the lungs. Fifty-thousand new cases are diagnosed each year. There is no known cure. Many PF patients require supplemental oxygen in order to survive, and in-person testing for supplemental oxygen or signing for delivery of supplemental oxygen could expose at-risk patients to the virus.