The Ontario Government is cutting funding for Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) devices which will raise costs significantly for current and future Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patients and put the small, local providers of respiratory devices and services out of business. Rural communities will be particularly impacted, as smaller clinics that won’t be able to shoulder the additional costs are often the sole providers of home oxygen therapy and PAP devices in these areas.
On average, current and future patients requiring CPAP therapy for treatment will have to pay an additional $400-$600 out-of-pocket.
Healthcare cuts have a trickle-down effect, causing businesses to charge for additional services no longer covered by the government. In many locations, providers will be forced to close when business is no longer financially viable and communities across the province will lose reliable access to respiratory healthcare. Patients in rural areas will have to travel to other communities to access the services they need, adding strain to the clinics in those communities.
The funding cuts will significantly reduce patient access to therapy. These cuts will force providers to limit the in-kind services they currently offer patients, and raise costs for patients by $400-$600. The cuts and subsequent closure of clinics will impact more than 10,000 patients, mostly in rural communities where there are existing barriers to healthcare access. Many of these patients will need to travel to larger communities to obtain services and support for respiratory therapy.
In Ontario, up to 88% of providers of PAP therapy are small businesses. These are small, local clinics focused on providing patients with respiratory services, who are already overwhelmed as they struggle to keep up with the pandemic. They will be forced to cut back on in-kind services currently offered to patients at no additional cost, and many will no longer be able to afford to operate.
The immediate solution that will maintain access to care for patients and support small businesses is repealing the proposed cuts.
PAP device vendors and providers offer ongoing support and assistance to customers, including working to ensure they can remain compliant with their therapies and have timely access to replacement equipment, new equipment, and related support services. Situations where shortages can occur are further proof of why these funding cuts need to be stopped. If providers are no longer able to operate in local communities, customers will not have access to the services they need when they need them and will have to travel to other regions to obtain support for their therapy. Furthermore, as individuals face greater travel times and costs, those individuals may choose not to undertake PAP therapy which could result in increased healthcare system utilization and cost.