Rep. Mike Ross Introduces Bill to Provide Coverage of Respiratory Therapists

March 11, 2011


Ifdy Perez, COPD Foundation
Tel: 1-866-731-2673, ext. 398


March 11, 2011, Washington, DC – Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR) introduced HR 941, a bill that seeks to provide coverage of qualified respiratory therapists – performed under the general supervision of a physician – outside of a hospital-based setting for individuals covered under Medicare.

“Many people do not use their inhaled medications correctly without instruction and the sicker people are, the less likely they are correctly administering them,” Miriam O’Day, Senior Director of Public Policy for the COPD Foundation, says. “Patient education by respiratory therapists (RTs) can fix that. Data shows that when RTs are involved with patients doing disease management for even one to one-and-a-half hours, there’s a lower rate of hospital readmissions.”

“What’s good for the profession is good for the patient,” O’Day says. “If you increase the sites of service where RTs can practice, it will increase access for patients.”

Today under the law, there are limited Medicare benefits that permit respiratory therapy services to be furnished outside of hospitals. The goal is to ensure RT services are a benefit for COPDers. Currently, RTs must work under the direct supervision of a physician, but under the proposed legislation RTs would require general supervision, meaning the physician would not have to be physically present but still available by phone.

If the law is changed, it will allow physicians much more flexibility and RTs will be able to provide services in unprecedented ways.

“The COPD Foundation fully endorses this legislation that provides critical access to respiratory therapists for individuals with COPD. RTs are on the frontline of treatment for COPD and are the primary clinical contact for COPDers,” John Walsh, president and co-founder of the COPD Foundation, says. “They provide essential education and training to empower individuals to become involved with their healthcare by offering pulmonary rehabilitation, which helps patients improve their compliance to treatment and adherence to therapy.”

About the COPD Foundation
The COPD Foundation is dedicated to developing and supporting programs which improve the quality of life through research, education, early diagnosis, and enhanced therapy for persons whose lives are impacted by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The COPD Foundation has several programs dedicated to informing, empowering, educating, and engaging individuals affected by COPD, including both diagnosed and undiagnosed individuals, their families and friends, and their medical professionals. For more information, please visit:

About COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only chronic disease growing in mortality. It affects approximately 24 million Americans but only 12 million are diagnosed. COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and adult onset (refractory) asthma. Symptoms include breathlessness, wheezing, and chronic coughing. For more information about COPD, visit or call 1-866-316-COPD (2673).