DARIEN, IL – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) urges the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to reinstate coverage for diagnostic sleep studies and continuous positive airway pressure therapy, known as CPAP, for adult Medicaid patients.

The OHCA board has indicated that it recognizes the potential medical benefits of these sleep medicine services. However, the state’s severe budget crisis led to the recent decision to eliminate coverage of sleep studies and CPAP therapy, which the state considers to be “optional” services. The decision puts thousands of Oklahoman Medicaid patients at risk for developing serious comorbid diseases such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and depression. 

“These cuts will lead to increased medical expenses over time because they make it impossible to diagnose and effectively treat Medicaid patients who have obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders including narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder and central sleep apnea,” said Dr. Vikas Jain, a board-certified sleep medicine physician who practices in Oklahoma City. “Chronic disease care is not optional:  It is essential for individual health and well-being, and it is critical for the financial viability of a health care system.”

In comments submitted to the OHCA prior to its final decision, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine warned that untreated sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of other costly diseases, leading to a higher rate of health care utilization and greater health care expenses. It is estimated that the overall annual economic cost of untreated sleep apnea in the U.S. is up to $165 billion. However, effective diagnosis and treatment with CPAP therapy can reduce the health and safety risks associated with obstructive sleep apnea, thereby decreasing health care utilization and costs.

“Medical coverage for chronic sleep disorders care is essential for individual and population health,” said AASM President Dr. Nathaniel Watson. “As Oklahoma lawmakers consider strategies to balance the state budget, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine urges state officials to ensure that Medicaid patients with obstructive sleep apnea have access to the medical care they need to achieve optimal health.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disease afflicting at least 25 million adults in the U.S. Sleep apnea is characterized by repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction occurring during sleep. The first-line treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, which helps keep the airway open by providing a stream of air through a mask that is worn during sleep. 

More information about obstructive sleep apnea and CPAP therapy is available at www.sleepeducation.org

To arrange an interview with Dr. Watson or Dr. Jain, please contact Senior Communications Coordinator Amy Pyle at 630-737-9700, ext. 9366, or apyle@aasm.org.

About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine 
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. The AASM has a combined membership of 11,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals. For more information about sleep and sleep disorders, including a directory of AASM accredited member sleep centers, visit www.sleepeducation.org.