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LCPC Mounts Offensive Against Enemies of the Industry

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Under sunny skies, the Last Chance for Patient Choice’s rally at U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas’s office helped shed light on hidden provisions in the Budget Reconciliation Act that will drastically affect Medicare patients who rely on oxygen and respiratory equipment to stay alive.

About 50 participants paraded peacefully, carrying signs with messages like “No two-tier health care,” “No oxygen cuts,” “Support America’s seniors” and “Please listen.”

Last Chance for Patient Choice is a 527 non-profit organization that, among other things, has launched a public information campaign targeting congressmen who are supporting national competitive bidding for home medical equipment, and most recently the 36-month cap on rental of respiratory equipment.

Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has been the leading proponent of competitive bidding for home medical equipment, which was buried in the Medicare Modernization Act, and the oxygen cuts, which went into the Deficit Reduction Act during a late-night conference committee meeting.

The January 24 rally garnered national media attention, coverage by the NBC and ABC affiliates in Bakersfield, several newspapers and numerous radio outlets.

Although Thomas was in town, neither he nor his staff spoke with any rally participants. It could be because he had others things on his mind. In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, the Boston Globe revealed that Thomas took the most expensive privately funded trip (more than $20,000 in a private Lear jet) to attend a forum in Colorado.

More rallies are planned throughout the country in the districts of congressmen who support competitive bidding, which Last Chance for Patient Choice says will eventually lead to a two-tier health-care system that will force Medicare beneficiaries to accept cut-rate equipment from low-bid providers.




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