In an article for The Huffington Post, Gerard Meskill, MD, discusses Medicare policies and its impact on patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
With over 52 million enrolled beneficiaries, Medicare’s policies and practices influence a large percentage of America’s healthcare population (1). With some studies estimating that as many as 20 percent of the American adult population (with higher numbers in the older population) suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), this means that Medicare’s policies affect many with this condition (2). As of July 1, 2013, Medicare has the strictest policies of any insurer on the administration and maintenance of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices and supplies for the treatment of OSA. On the surface, the rationale for some of these policies may seem logical. However, the unbending enforcement of these Medicare rules regarding durable medical equipment (DME) has led to unintended consequences, including the repossession of CPAP machines from patients, extended delays in administration of equipment related to OSA, denial of continuation of treatment for patients who have been using CPAP for years, and damaged relationships between patients and healthcare providers.