Medicare Dollars Toward DME Are Cost Effective for CPAP


A study about Medicare investment in DME concludes that substantial cost savings are realized when mobility, supplemental oxygen, and CPAP therapy are covered by Medicare.


The Case for Medicare Investment in DME – 2014 Update was done by Brian Leitten of Leitten Consulting. It is a follow-up to a 2011 study that concluded when Medicare pays for DME, it saves substantially more money in health care costs than it pays for the equipment.


“This certainly is not news to those of us in the industry,” said John Gallagher, VGM, vice president-government relations. “We know that Mom wants to be at home, not in a home, and that DME makes that possible.”

The study looked at three major categories of DME:

• CPAP therapy: Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in 70 percent of men over 65, and 56 percent of women. OSA contributes to many serious medical conditions, and is usually treated by continuous positive airway pressure therapy. When Medicare pays for CPAP therapy, the cost of treating medical complications caused by OSA drops dramatically.

• Mobility equipment: Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the U.S. for adults 65 and older. When Medicare pays for mobility equipment, falls are reduced and significant net spending savings are realized.

• Supplemental oxygen therapy: COPD is the second leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the U.S. When Medicare pays for supplemental oxygen therapy, the cost of treating medical complications of COPD drops dramatically, and significant net spending savings are realized.

“The message is clear: HME does save Medicare money, and helps beneficiaries live where they want to be – at home,” said Gallagher. The study was discussed at a June 11 Town Hall meeting during the VGM Heartland Conference, attended by mobility users, HME providers, legislators and legislative staff.

To view the complete study, go to

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