One Act, One Less Breath

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An act of Congress could take many people's breath away, literally. A section of the "Deficit Reduction Act of 2005" will force patients who are on home oxygen to foot more of the bill. Currently, Medicare pays for the machine, supplies, and maintenance of the tanks; but the bill will stop the coverage after three years. This leaves many wondering what they would do without it.

"If I didn't have it I’d be laying out on the floor passed out waiting for someone to find me which may never happen," said Linda Kidd of Harrisonburg.

Linda Kidd has been depending on an at home oxygen tank for more than 10 years. Medicare covers the cost now but not if a new bill come through Congress.

"If something happens to that machine what would I do? I couldn't afford to have it fixed or buy a new one," said Kidd.

Linda isn't alone. She's one of thousands of patients right here in the Valley who depend on machines like this and if this bill passes it's like turning off life support.

"It's going to be a tragedy, and it's sad that our nation has come to this," said Karen Jones.

Jones, a respiratory care practitioner, says it's a small bill for government to pay compared to hospital visits. That cost means making tough choices for many of the elderly.

"It's going to have a devastating impact because these patients are going to have to choose, you know, what's going to be best for them; are they going to eat; are the going to take their medication," said Jones.

"Can I pay for that on disability? I barely have enough money to make rent. I have to hope and pray that it will not pass and I really believe it won't," said Kidd.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte will be at the Dayton Learning Center Saturday, January 21 at 2 p.m. to talk about this and other issues.