Although the many thousands of undiagnosed sleep apnea sufferers is a major cause for concern and attention, so too are the many OSA patients that have been diagnosed and are unable to afford the life-changing therapy from a sleep apnea machine. Now, everyone that has experienced the benefits of this lifesaving therapy can help others by joining forces with the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) and their CPAP Assistance Program (CAP). The program recycles gently used CPAP machines, masks, hoses, and supplies in order to put them in the hands of those who need therapy but don’t have the means or the insurance coverage to pay for it.
CPAP therapy patients who are replacing their gently used sleep apnea machines can now help others breathe easier by donating them to the CAP program. For several months now, ASAA and other organizations have been fighting to spread the word about this innovative program so that OSA patients without the financial means can get the assistance and CPAP therapy they need.
While CPAP machines, masks, hoses, and supplies are donated to the ASAA CAP for redistribution to those in need, the nonprofit still has to contend with the administrative processes, handling, system checkout, and shipping costs of the program. Consequently, the organization is charging a nominal fee of $100 to the beneficiaries that will be receiving the machines.
Obviously this is far from enough to cover the expenses of the nationwide program. To bridge the ever-growing financial gap, the patient-driven OSA awareness charity is working to raise $10,000 through a fundraising campaign to facilitate the program.
To-date, the program has provided more than 300 devices to people in need and has kept more than 200 CPAP machines out of landfills. Since the key word to the program is ‘gently’ used sleep apnea machine, the ASAA website provides a detailed list of the machine types and models, as well as the age and usage parameters, that are acceptable.
The process for sleep apnea machine and supply donors is simple. They merely fill out the online donation form and fax it to ASAA at 888-293-3650. A CAP representative will then make contact with shipping instructions. Each donated machine and all supplies are thoroughly tested by a registered member of the National Board of Respiratory Care.
For those that wish to make a much needed monetary donation to CAP, the ASAA website also provides a short online form.
The process for beneficiaries is also fairly simple as they merely fill out the online application, have their physician fill out the physician authorization form, and mail them along with the $100 fee to the organization’s Washington-based headquarters. They will then process the request and contact the beneficiary’s physician. Because of limited supply and resources, the organizational program must have as much non-invasive information from the physician as possible. This is to establish genuine need and financial/insurance hardship of the potential beneficiary in order to be sure that the donated materials find their way to those most in need.
Once processed, the sleep apnea machine and supplies are shipped to the beneficiary’s physician with arrival in three to four weeks. The physician is then responsible for adjusting the machine and answering any patient questions on usage. If the physician is requesting a specialty device such as a BiPAP, APAP, or ASV, shipping depends on device availability and whether or not there is a waiting list for that specific type of specialty device.
While the ASAA is a nonprofit with limited staff and resources, their support throughout the OSA community is both broad and deep ranging from other organizations to some of the top manufacturers. Consequently, they are joined by Prairie Home Medical as well as supplied with generous grants from the American Sleep Medicine Foundation and the ResMed Foundation. Manufacturers have also stepped up with In-kind contributions from ResMed, Philips Respironics, Fisher & Paykel, Respiratory Solutions, DFS, Sleep, and Better Rest Solutions.
With more than 20 million people suffering from sleep apnea (many of whom are unaware that they are), ASAA, other organizations, the healthcare community, and conscientious manufacturers have their hands full spreading awareness. They all realize that there may be no greater tragedy than getting diagnosed with this life threatening condition and not being able to afford the sleep apnea machine.
The CPAP Assistance Program cannot help these people without the support of those that have already experienced the life-changing benefits of CPAP therapy via their CPAP machine. As thousands around the country look to purchase a new sleep apnea machine, now is their chance to pay it forward by donating their gently used sleep apnea machine to those who desperately need it so that they too can live fuller, healthier lives.