Utility Breaks for CPAP Users Could Be a Trend Setter

Fort Collins, Colorado – Disabled residents who use electrical power for life support equipment have long had access to financial help for utilities, but those breaks have extended to CPAP users in one Colorado community. Sixty miles north of Denver, the Fort Collins City Council passed the measure to ease costs for those who don’t have the option to conserve energy.

Fort Collins residents who rely on electric-powered medical equipment can apply for the discount, which city officials say would give qualified customers discounts up to $11.71 per month during nonsummer months, depending on their electrical use. During June, July, and August, if customers use air conditioning to relieve or treat a medical condition, the discount could be up to $41.66 per month.

“A program like this is not that common,” says Lance Smith, strategic financial planning manager, Fort Collins Utilities. “In California, they have legislated that municipal utilities should have a program like this. The nearby city of Longmont, Colo, has a program, but it is geared more toward life support items, rather than the quality of life equipment that we are trying to deal with here in Fort Collins.”

“Medically necessary” equipment includes electric wheelchairs, CPAP equipment, respirators, and pressure pumps. Beyond that, the list includes all DME that has a Medicare HCPCS code and uses electricity.
Residents who apply will sign a legally binding affidavit affirming their eligibility. An appeal process will be available for those who are rejected. The Public Utilities Commission has told Excel Energy to do something similar to the Fort Collins program, so the trend toward utilities discounts could grow nationwide.
With nationwide precedents few and far between, Smith says he will go back to City Council next year to report on exact costs, and the number of people who enrolled. “This type of program is uncommon enough that it was hard for me to estimate how many people would sign up,” he adds.

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