Help Increase Access to Respiratory Therapists!

January 13, 2012

Last year respiratory therapists and COPD and Alpha-1 patients headed to Washington where they met with elected officials and urged them to support the Medicare Respiratory Therapy Initiatve.

When Medicare was created 40 years ago, very few respiratory therapy services were provided outside of the hospital. However, times and respiratory medicine has significantly changed, but Medicare, at least in terms of respiratory therapy has not.

Now, there are important services such as smoking cessation and COPD management, home care services and patient education, and other doctor's office and home services available that should be offered by health care professionals such as the respiratory therapist.

The Medicare Respiratory Therapy Initiative will add a new respiratory therapy services benefit under Medicare Part B and will permit respiratory therapists with a RRT credential and Bachelor's degree to furnish respiratory therapy services without the physician having to be physically present at the time the service is being rendered.

This means flexibility for the physician and new opportunities for the respiratory therapist outside of the hospital.

Respiratory therapists would still be under physician supervision, but if this legislation becomes law, qualified respiratory therapists could provide services as a physician's extender and not have to have the doctor always on site. This is good for the doctor, good for the respiratory therapist and most importantly good for you, the pulmonary patient.

Right now, the Medicare Respiratory Therapy Initiative needs to gain support and co-sponsors from members of the House of Representatives and needs support from members of the Senate to introduce the legislation. Hearing from you is the very best way to find that support in Washington DC.