December 2023

Iowa becomes first US state to reimburse thermal fuses for home oxygen therapy patients

On November 1, 2023, Iowa Medicaid began coverage of the Firesafe Cannula Valve, making it a reimbursable item with HCPCS code E0700.

The Firesafe Cannula Valve is a thermal fuse that cuts the flow of oxygen in the event that a patient’s downstream oxygen tubing is ignited. Throughout Europe, the installation of thermal fuses is required for all home oxygen installations. The chance of an oxygen fire fatality is 20 times greater in the US than in England, where firebreaks have been mandatory since 2006.

In 2018, the United States Veterans Health Administration mandated the fitting of thermal fuses to all 85,000 veterans’ home oxygen installations. Grassroots efforts have since increased across the US, with firefighters stepping up their efforts to educate and advocate for patients.

“Our experiences with home oxygen fires attributed to cigarette use pose a substantial risk and danger to our firefighters,” says Raymond A. Reynolds, Director of Fire & EMS for Nevada, Iowa. “Iowa is the first state of many to adopt thermal fuse engineering solutions to mitigate these disastrous fires. It is my personal mission and the mission of our Home Oxygen Therapy working group to continue this process until all 50 states and the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adopt the implementation of thermal fuses. We know it works and it is the responsible thing to do in order to reduce home fires in the U.S.”

“Prevention of home oxygen therapy related fires, and education around how they can be significantly reduced, has been an initiative of Sunset’s for years,” says PJ Ruflin, VP of Business Development for Chicago-based Sunset Healthcare Solutions, the US distributor of BPR Firesafe products. “This is a huge step forward in that initiative and Sunset is proud to be part of it. We look forward to continuing to be a key asset in the program and supporting our homecare partners and their patients as it continues to progress.”

Home oxygen fires remain a serious public health concern in many countries worldwide, but particularly in the US: from 2017-2021 567 fires involving home oxygen and 316 fatalities were reported by the media.

A recent survey by thermal fuse manufacturer BPR asked home oxygen equipment providers about their awareness of fires and preventative strategies. Of the providers surveyed, 95% said that thermal fuses are effective in preventing fires.


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