Recent legislation changes how Medicare pays for oxygen equipment and supplies. Effective Jan. 1, Medicare will continue to pay 36 monthly payments (less deductible) to oxygen equipment suppliers, but beneficiaries will not own the equipment at the end of the three-year contract — as they have in the past. The law now says suppliers retain ownership.

The new rules dictate, however, that suppliers must continue to provide Medicare beneficiaries with properly functioning oxygen equipment and associated supplies for two years after the three-year period at no cost to beneficiaries. After five years, suppliers may replace the equipment and begin a new 36-month rental period.

For 2009 only, Medicare will also pay for routine maintenance and servicing visits for oxygen concentrators transfilling equipment every six months, starting six months after the end of the 36-month rental period.

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