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- 09/26/14--11:41: _New York: Insurer s...
- 09/26/14--11:40: _Florida: Providers ...
- 09/26/14--11:38: _Bid complaints go d...
- 09/26/14--10:24: _Vents: Providers sh...
- 09/25/14--23:35: _In brief: AAH honor...
- 10/03/14--11:06: _Legislative update:...
- 10/03/14--10:58: _In brief: Oncologix...
- 10/10/14--11:32: _Post-acute care: Wh...
- 10/10/14--11:26: _In brief: ResMed la...
- 10/17/14--10:27: _NewsPoll: Providers...
- 10/17/14--10:22: _In brief: Stakehold...
- 10/22/14--13:10: _“Stand Up” pays off
- 10/24/14--12:10: _Medtrade wrap-up: P...
- 10/24/14--12:04: _In brief: Valley ma...
- 10/31/14--11:47: _AAHomecare seeks ‘m...
- 10/31/14--11:42: _In brief: OMHA hear...
- 11/03/14--12:26: _CMS issues final ru...
- 11/03/14--10:54: _Wyoming: What does ...
- 11/07/14--11:36: _CMS finalizes rule ...
- 11/07/14--11:26: _In brief: OMHA seek...
- 09/26/14--11:41: New York: Insurer slashes network
- 09/26/14--11:40: Florida: Providers frustrated with Univita
- 09/26/14--11:38: Bid complaints go digital
- 09/26/14--10:24: Vents: Providers should be on alert
- 10/03/14--11:06: Legislative update: Bid fix a priority
- 10/03/14--10:58: In brief: Oncologix makes buy, ASP figures increase
- 10/10/14--11:32: Post-acute care: Where do you stand?
- 10/10/14--11:26: In brief: ResMed launches program, Respira snags contract
- 10/17/14--10:27: NewsPoll: Providers express optimism, pessimism
- 10/17/14--10:22: In brief: Stakeholders meet with Rep. Price, 180 Medical recognized
- 10/22/14--13:10: “Stand Up” pays off
- 10/24/14--12:10: Medtrade wrap-up: Politics, demographics, winners
- 10/24/14--12:04: In brief: Valley makes buy, Brightree partners with Conduit
- 10/31/14--11:47: AAHomecare seeks ‘megaphone’ status
- 10/31/14--11:42: In brief: OMHA hearing frustrates, Burmans gets nod
- 11/03/14--12:26: CMS issues final rule on bidding, bundling
- 11/03/14--10:54: Wyoming: What does it matter in Wyoming? Plenty
- 11/07/14--11:36: CMS finalizes rule on bidding, bundling
- 11/07/14--11:26: In brief: OMHA seeks comment, NSM makes buy
LE ROY, N.Y. – MVP Health Care, one of New York’s largest HMOs, has reduced the number of providers it will do business with from 144 to 13, shaking up the state’s HME industry.
The change was effective July 1.
For Le Roy, N.Y.-based Durable Medical Equipment and Supplies, which serves about 4,000 customers, losing the MVP contract meant losing about one-quarter of its patients.
“That had a profound impact on us,” said owner Patrick Lippa. “We had well over 1,000 MVP customers that we can’t service any more.”
Doug Crana, president of Newburgh, N.Y.-based Consolidated Medical, was able to hold on to his contract.
“We have tried to access similar networks in the past, and we’ve always been told the network is full and we’ve been blocked out almost every time,” he said. “Therefore, it’s a bittersweet victory for us to maintain that contract with MVP right now.”
Unfortunately, shutting out smaller providers from networks is the direction the insurance industry is moving toward, Crana said.
“It is creating an access issue, in my eyes, absolutely, but at the same time, it’s survival of the fittest,” he said.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With Florida’s transition of Medicaid beneficiaries to managed care on track for an October completion, HME providers say their worst fears are being realized.
At the heart of the problem, providers say: the state’s decision to contract with Univita to administer the program for 10 of the 14 participating plans. Univita is also an HME provider.
“A lot of providers are, No. 1, not getting paid or, No. 2, not getting referrals,” said Joan Cross, president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (FAMES). “When you go through Univita to get authorization, Univita takes the patient.”
The transition to managed care began earlier this year.
It didn’t take long, providers say, before they were losing patients despite an any-willing-provider provision on the state record books.
“What they originally said is, anyone who participates in Medicaid would be able to get a contract directly with these HMOs,” said Chris Wallman, president of Ft. Lauderdale-based Galaxy Medical. “That’s not true. It was written like any-willing-provider language, but it turned out far different than that.”
Adding insult to injury: Even if providers subcontract with Univita, they say they have to accept 50% of the current Medicaid fee schedule.
“We are not able to take care of our existing patients,” said Ron Jenkins, CEO of Longwood, Fla.-based Respitech. “I’d rather just get rid of it and not even deal with it.”
The biggest losers are the beneficiaries, who lose their freedom of choice, providers say.
“It’s like saying only the Walmarts are going to be able to sell anything—you have to go to only one company,” said Ivonne Gonzales, FAMES board member and president of Miami-based Health Medical Equipment.
Unvita did not respond to requests for comment.
WATERLOO, Iowa – People for Quality Care (PFQC) has moved beyond the spreadsheet to create an interactive, electronic map of Medicare beneficiary complaints from its national hotline.
“It tells the story by looking at a picture,” said Kelly Turner, executive director. “We wanted to show calls are coming in from across the country, and we wanted to show there are some areas heavily burdened with complaints.”
To date, the hotline, launched in 2013, has logged 3,285 complaints.
The map updates in real time and works on mobile platforms. Users can click on each state and sort complaints by the type of medical equipment the patient has issues with. For example, Audrene in Illinois isn’t getting the number of oxygen tanks he needs each month, while Henry in Massachusetts can’t drive the 60 miles to pick up equipment from his provider.
The new map paints a clear picture, especially for lawmakers.
“A lot of them said, ‘Having a quick and easy way to show the issues you’re running into would be great,’” said Lalaina Rabary, communications and marketing specialist at PFQC.
The PFQC plans to promote the map through marketing and social media campaigns.
“The most important thing is the patient’s voice and having those conversations with the patient is one of the most important things in trying to help make changes,” Turner said.
HINGHAM, Mass. – Industry stakeholders worry what a recently announced widespread prepayment review for non-invasive ventilators in Jurisdiction A may mean for coverage and reimbursement going forward.
The NHIC, the DME MAC for that jurisdiction, says it has initiated the review due to a spike in billing for E0464, a product that costs Medicare about $1,500 a month on a rental basis.
“We knew it was only a matter of time,” said Wayne van Halem, president of the van Halem Group. “The volume for this code has increased dramatically.”
Why the spike? The popularity of non-invasive vents (they’ve had “amazing results,” van Halem says); an increase in the use of non-invasive vents over Bi-Level devices; and the lack of specific coverage criteria.
While the National Coverage Determination (NCD) outlines general criteria for the provision of vents, there are no Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs) with specific criteria, stakeholders say.
“It has given providers a false sense of security—there’s no coverage criteria, so it can’t be audited,” van Halem said. “That’s just not the case.”
What could happen next: The other jurisdictions could follow suit, and depending on what they all find, a new policy with more specific coverage criteria and a modified payment methodology could be implemented.
“Providers will want to be very proactive that their documentation not only supports the clinical need but also that Bi-Level was tried and ruled out,” van Halem said.
When it comes to providing non-invasive vents vs. Bi-Level devices, the DME MACs began laying out their case in a bulletin in April. After stating the conditions for which vents are covered, they stated: “Each of these disease categories are comprised of conditions that can vary from severe and life-threatening to less serious forms. These disease groups may appear to overlap conditions described in the Respiratory Assist Devices LCD, but they are not overlapping. Choice of an appropriate device i.e., a ventilator vs. a bi-level PAP device is made based upon the severity of the condition.”
Brian Simonds, a provider in Jurisdiction A, isn’t opposed to more specific coverage criteria for non-invasive vents—in Massachusetts, where he’s located, the Medicaid program requires prior authorizations—but he says any attempt to, say, cap reimbursement is unacceptable.
“We’re taking a huge risk in getting these patients home,” said Simonds, director of Baystate Home Infusion & Respiratory Services. “There’s a tremendous amount of education for the patient and the family. Then there are the preventative maintenance requirements. It’s not just like regular equipment. You have to be very vigilant.”
WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has named Cara Bachenheimer of Invacare and Joel Mills of Advanced Homecare as its 2014 Homecare Champions. The award recognizes AAHomecare members who have made exceptional contributions to the homecare community throughout their careers. AAHomecare officials lauded Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare, as a “consensus builder who sees the big picture.” AAHomecare officials praised Mills, CEO of Advanced Homecare and one of the association’s original members, for his long-time commitment to the industry. AAHomecare will present awards to Bacheheimer and Mills during the Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade on Oct. 21.
Philips Respironics to develop vent for gov’t
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Philips Respironics has snagged a three-year, $13.8 million contract to develop a next-generation portable ventilator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The ventilator will help fill the need for portable, low-cost, user-friendly and flexible ventilators in a pandemic or other public health emergencies, according to a Sept. 17 press release from HHS. “An affordable portable ventilator will help us meet the needs of critically ill patients during a public health emergency, whether due to a naturally occurring pandemic or an act of bioterrorism,” stated Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research Institute and Development Authority, which will over see the project. Per the contract, Philips Respironics must develop a ventilator that will meet the needs of everyone from infants to the elderly. It must also be low cost: Currently, ventilators with all the required features cost anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000 per unit. The contract includes an option for HHS to purchase 10,000 completely kitted, initial production ventilators from Philips Respironics for $32.8 million.
CAMPS co-locates at Medtrade Spring
LAS VEGAS – The California Association of Medical Product Suppliers (CAMPS) will co-locate its annual meeting with Medtrade Spring in 2015. The events will take place March 30-April 1 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. “This co-location agreement saves CAMPS members time and money by allowing them to go to one trade show instead of two,” stated Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade, in a press release. CAMPS and Medtrade had a similar agreement a decade ago. CAMPS expects to provide California-specific topics and speakers to the event. The association will also hold a membership update meeting and a small reception for California attendees.
#Pharmacists ready to tweet
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Pharmacists from around the world will take part in a tweet-a-thon Oct. 2. The second annual event will allow pharmacists to highlight the positive impact pharmacist have on patients, communities and the healthcare system, according to a release from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). Last year m ore than 7,100 tweets with the hashtag #Pharmacist were sent. “From preventing potentially adverse reactions, to teaching newly diagnosed diabetic patients how to use their glucose monitor, to administering 40 flu shots in three hours—last year’s stories were diverse and inspiring,” according to the release.
AbleNet secures reimbursement for 100-plus products
ST. PAUL, Minn. – AbleNet has secured Medicare reimbursement for more than 100 assistive technology products, including speech generating devices (SGDs), accessories and mounting solutions, the company announced Sept. 24. The funding “opens opportunities for people with communication disabilities to participate in daily activities and lead more fulfilling and productive lives,” AbleNet stated in a press release. To see the products that have been approved for funding, visit http://www.dmepdac.com/dmecsapp/do/search, and under “Search DMEPOS Product Classification List: Manufacture/Distributor” enter “AbleNet.”
Are diabetes rates slowing?
YARMOUTH, Maine – The incidence and prevalence of diabetes appears to have plateaued between 2008 and 2012, according to an article published Sept. 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. However, there appear to be continued increases in diabetes among subgroups, including non-Hispanic black and Hispanic subpopulations, and those with a high school education or less, the article states. The basis for the article: an analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey for 664,969 adults ages 20 to 79 years old from 1980 to 2012 to measure the annual percentage change in rates of the prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2 combined).
180 Medical ups scholarship program
OKLAHOMA CITY – 180 Medical will give nine young adults $1,000 to help overcome their medical hardships and pursue their goals of higher education. “Our scholarship committee could not pick just five, so we are awarding nine individuals this year,” stated Kieranne Nelms, marketing manager, in a press release. The 180 Medical College Scholarship is for students with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis and/or a neurogenic bladder who plan to attend a two-year, four-year or graduate school program full time in the fall. In addition to eligibility documentation, winners submitted brief essays about the importance of college to their goals, lessons learned from a failure or qualities that set them apart. The founder and CEO of 180 Medical, Todd Brown, created the scholarship program. Brown was left paralyzed from the chest down by a motocross accident in 1994.
DeVilbiss revamps website
SOMERSET, Pa. – DeVilbiss Healthcare’s www.intellipap.com now has a refreshed look and improved usability. In addition to a softer appearance that the company believes makes it more welcoming, the website allows users to view pictures and instructions more readily. The website also has a simplified format: Users see only the input fields for items necessary to obtain compliance information. They can enter patient, device, provider and physician information as needed.
Inogen execs sell shares
NEW YORK – Inogen CEO Raymond Huggenberger sold 25,722 shares on Sept. 22 for an average price of $20.25 in a transaction valued at $520,870. He now owns 6,808 shares valued at $137,862. Inogen Director Timothy Petersen sold 46,865 shares on Sept. 22 in a transaction worth nearly $1 million. The shares sold at an average price of $21.05 for a total of $986,508. Peterson previously sold 39,135 shares on Sept. 17 in a transaction worth $850,012.
Short takes: Apria, ActiveCare, Essentially Women, Inogen
Apria Healthcare has secured a $100 million credit facility from Wells Fargo Capital Finance. “Wells Fargo Capital Finance provided us with a creative and flexible financing package that helps leverage our existing asset base for future growth,” stated Debra Morris, CFO of Apria, in a release. “Our sector of the healthcare industry continues to experience significant change. It is important for us to have a lender that understands these dynamics.” Wells Fargo’s healthcare finance portfolio has now surpassed $1 billion in commitments…Essentially Women will host its annual “Focus on the Future” event March 8-9 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando. This year’s theme: “Heat Up Your Business: Facing Challenges – Expanding Opportunities.”
People news: Jones, Holm
ActiveCare, a provider of diabetes management and wellness services, has appointed Michael Jones president and interim CEO effective Oct. 1. Jones will replace David Derrick, who is stepping down for personal reasons. Previously, Jones founded or ran several fast-growing technology companies, including Interactive Care and RemedyMD, according to a press release… Ottobock has named Aaron Holm manager of consumer marketing and engagement. The goal of the newly created position: strengthen the company’s connection to consumers and impact product development processes and patient outcomes. Holm is a consumer himself—he lost both of his legs when he was crushed between two cars on the side of a freeway while helping a friend change a tire, and he has been using Ottobock’s microprocessor-controlled knees since 2007.
WASHINGTON – There is a short window of opportunity for the HME industry to push its legislation when lawmakers return after the elections—but there is opportunity, say stakeholders.
“(Hill) staff are prepping for a busy month between the elections and Christmas and I expect a frenzy on Capitol Hill,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “I think we will have some great opportunities so we really need to keep working toward that.”
Those opportunities include a possible “doc fix” bill, an omnibus spending bill and a Medicare package that is in the works, she said.
With all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as 36 Senate seats, up for re-election on Nov. 4, it’s the perfect time to get in front of lawmakers on competitive bidding and audits, says Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.
His priority? H.R. 4920, which seeks to reform the competitive bidding. It currently has 49 cosponsors.
CMS has said it plans to open the bidding window for the Round 2 recompete in the winter of 2015.
“There’s a small window to get this bid fix in,” he said. “We had 180 on H.R. 1717. This is one provision of that bill and we should be able to crosswalk all of those people over.”
Building support during the election cycle could create momentum when lawmakers return the second week in November for a lame duck session, said Ryan.
“Very often that’s an opportunity to get that member who has been on the fence—particularly if they are not re-elected—to say, “I’ll give this to you,” he said.
ALEXANDRIA, La. – Oncologix Tech has acquired Esteemcare and Affordable Medical Equipment Solutions, it announced Oct. 2. The companies, with offices in Columbia and Charleston, S.C., provide respiratory and sleep therapy and hold 45 competitive bidding contracts for CPAP, according to a release. "With $2.5 million in annual revenues and with over 45 additional MSA markets awarded for sales and distribution, the company is uniquely positioned for rapid growth and expansion,” said Wayne Erwin, chairman and CEO of Oncologix. Oncologix is a diversified medical holding company that manufactures Class II medical devices, and provides sales and distribution of home medical products.
Invacare amends credit agreement
ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has amended its credit agreement to gain additional flexibility calculating it financial covenants through the duration of the credit agreement. The amendment provides an add back to the company’s EBITDA for warranty accruals up to $10 million and subtracts cash payments when paid in future periods, the company said in a release. “We appreciate the ongoing support of our current lenders,” said Rob Gudbranson, interim president and CEO. “Over the past years, we have proactively managed our business to generate cash, including the divestitures of non-core businesses, and have paid down total debt outstanding by approximately $212.7 million since 2010 to $58.5 million as of June 30, 2014.” IN other financial news, Invacare also announced a quarterly dividend of .0125 per share, payable Oct. 10.
ASP: Perforomist sees healthy jump
BALTIMORE – Third-quarter payments for respiratory drugs is up nearly across the board. Brand name drug Perforomist (J7606) saw the biggest jump, up nearly 90 cents, to $7.46 per dose according to the latest average sales price (ASP) figures. Brovana (J7605) increased to $6.96, up 57 cents from the previous quarter; and budesonide (J7626) increased nearly 48 cents to $5.38 cents per dose. Albuterol (J7613) and ipratropium (J7644) stayed relatively flat, at 14 cents per dose and just under 12 cents per dose, respectively.
Provider makes award triple play
NEW BERLIN, Wis. – Home Care Medical has received the HME Provider of the Year award from the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services (WAMES). This is the third year in a row the provider has been honored with the award. Also receiving awards: Jim Spellman, director of operations and WAMES president, received the Industry Excellence award for his efforts on the WAMES Legislative Committee; and Donna Smith, director of respiratory care, received the Distinguished Service award for her efforts on the WAMES Respiratory Committee. “This year, Home Care Medical proudly celebrated our 40 year milestone and this award, along with Jim and Donna’s contributions, represent our continued commitment and dedication to excellence,” said John Teevan, Home Care Medical president, in a release.
Dr. Hughes to exit
HINGHAM, Mass. – Dr. Paul Hughes is stepping down from his role as the medical director for Jurisdiction A, according to a bulletin from the Home Medical Equipment Services Association, citing a message from NHIA. Dr. Fred Mamuya will serve as interim director. Mamuya has been with NHIC, the Jurisdiction A DME MAC, for the past two years as ALJ Appeals Medical Director. Dr. Hughes’ last day is Oct. 10
Breathe adds text messaging
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Breathe has released its latest software enhancement to its text messaging feature, the company announced today. With the new feature, DME sales team members can receive text messages when their office receives prescriptions, if a patient qualifies for oxygen or not, and when the patient is set up on oxygen. “It's our mission to provide and oximetry software solution that continues to evolve based on our clients’ needs, text messaging was a simple software enhancement that has had such a big impact for our clients,” said Amber Yeager, owner of Breathe. Breathe is a nationally recognized independent diagnostic testing facility.
Computers Unlimited founder honored
BILLINGS, Mont. – Computers Unlimited founder Mike Schaer has been inducted into the Montana Business Hall of Fame. Criteria for acceptance include outstanding business performance, high standard of ethics and a willingness to take risks. Schaer, a self-taught computer programmer, launched Computers Unlimited in 1978. Today the company employs nearly 200 people, according to local news reports. His son David took the reins in 2009. Schaer remains on the board as chairman.
ResMed, Brightree plan enhancements
SAN DIEGO – ResMed has expanded its relationship with Brightree, with both companies agreeing to enhance the integration of ResMed’s U-Sleep compliance solution within the Brightree solution and add new features from ResMed’s AirView patient management system. The first of these enhancements is salted to introduced in November. Brightree and ResMed began working together in 2013 to automate the onboarding of patients that use ResMed S9 PAP devices into U-Sleep.
$24 million Medicare fraud alleged
HOUSTON– Angel Mirabal, of Miami, was arrested Sept. 26 on charges of scheming to defraud Medicare. From April 2013 to July 2013, Mirabal allegedly conspired to bill Medicare $24 million in fraudulent claims for reimbursement through Quick Solutions Medical Supplies. According to the indictment said Mirabal and his co-conspirators used fraudulent shell companies to launder and disburse the proceeds from the health care fraud scheme.
YARMOUTH, Maine – San Diego-based ResMed will report its first quarter 2014 financial results Oct. 23, at 4:30 pm EST. The company will host a webcast to discuss operating results and future outlook. Also on Oct. 23, Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare will host a call to discuss third quarter 2014 results. That call is scheduled for 8:30 am EST.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – As the paradigm in health care shifts, Managed Health Care Associates (MHA), the parent company of The MED Group, wants to make sure its post-acute care provider members, including those in HME, are armed with the information they need to make the right business decisions.
That’s one reason why MHA teamed up with Leavitt Partners this month to publish an 11-page report, “The Right Care for the Right Cost: Post-Acute Care and the Triple Aim,” that discusses: What does post-acute care entail; why do accountable care organizations (ACOs) need to consider partnerships with post-acute care providers; and how do these partnerships fit into evolving healthcare models?
“We wanted to get everyone talking,” said Michelle Templin, vice president of strategic business development for MHA. “For post-acute providers, we wanted them to look to see where they stand in the spectrum.”
Starting from square one
Initially, there was little knowledge—let alone recognition— among ACOs of the role of post-acute providers, Templin says.
“When we started meeting with hospitals, they had no idea,” she said. “So we had to step back and do some education.”
ACOs are quickly trying to get up to speed, though, Templin says.
“They’re starting to look at readmissions and they’re realizing that these are frail and elderly patients,” she said. “They’re realizing there’s an opportunity for coordinated care and delivery.”
Flexing your muscles
No ACO is created equally, especially at this still early phase, so as post-acute care providers look to see what role they can play in this new paradigm, they need to be flexible, Templin says.
“You could have five ACOs within a marketplace, and the processes and protocols for dealing with each of them is different,” she said. “It’s not cookie cutter. I hear from customers, ‘This ACO wants this, and that ACO wants that.’ There’s no way around it. They need to do an assessment of where their market sits right now and an assessment of what they can do.”
HITting it hard
With health information technology (HIT) one of the primary drivers behind successful ACOs, post-acute care providers will want to make sure they can talk their language, Templin says.
“IT is the biggest barrier,” she said. “Post-acute care is such a fragmented industry—you have people writing things down, you have some pretty fancy systems, and you have everything in between. The data that’s required continues to be a challenge. This is a big focus for us. Can we provide tools to link them in without it being a huge investment?”
SAN DIEGO – ResMed is launching Better Sleep for Women, a new initiative to educate women about the importance of sleep, it announced recently. A recent ResMed survey of 500 women ages 40-65 found that fewer than 20% believed they need to make improvements in the quality of sleep, according to a press release. It will focus on sleep as the third pillar of health, alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. The program will provide information, tips and resources about women and sleep through a robust online experience including a dedicated website and social media. "Many women resign themselves to experiencing daily fatigue, blaming it on demanding schedules and busy lifestyles," said Dr. Carmel Harrington, a leading sleep researcher and author of The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Sleep. "It is critical that women recognize that constant fatigue or loss of energy is something that warrants a conversation with their doctor.”
Rep. Ellmers pays visit
DUNN, N.C. – Family Medical Supply hosted Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., on Oct. 7. About 75 attendees, including providers and representatives from industry manufacturers and associations, discussed the effects of competitive bidding and audits. “The longer we can keep patients in the home and healthy, the better for saving Medicare dollars and the better for the patients overall well-being," said Ellmers. In July, Ellmers introduced H.R. 5083, which seeks to improve the audit process. It currently has 36 co-sponsors.
Another accolade for Breathe
IRVINE, Calif. – Breathe Technologies has been named to the 2014 FierceMedicalDevices Fierce 15. The designation recognizes companies with a potential to make an impact in the medical device field, according to a release. Breathe’s Non-Invasive Open Ventilation System (NIOV) received CE certification in September and has been recognized by the European Respiratory Society with a Product of Outstanding Interest (POINT) Award for 2014. "This accolade is a wonderful culmination to an outstanding six-month period in which we've received additional regulatory clearances in the U.S and in Europe and were also recently recognized by the European Respiratory Society for creating an innovative technology that solves a challenge of modern respiratory healthcare," said Larry Mastrovich, president and CEO.
Respira snags contract
WASHINGTON – Respira has been awarded a $10 million contract from the Department of Defense (DOD) United States Army Medical Command, it was announced Oct. 2. Under the five-year contract, Respira will support the Sleep Disorder Clinic at Walter Reed, providing care including compliance programs, CPAP, respiratory therapy and clinical research in sleep medicine, according to a press release. Respira was founded in 2001 and has grown to a $10 million respiratory, sleep medicine and home medical equipment company serving 60,000 patients.
Aeroflow takes to the airwaves
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has released a new television commercial aimed at potential power wheelchair users, it announced yesterday. The commercial will advise viewers that the provider’s certified mobility specialist can help them qualify for a power wheelchair. The spot will air from October 2014 through March 2015. Aeroflow is a full line provider of DME, mobility and respiratory equipment and services.
Community pharmacy earns honor
BROOKHAVEN, Pa. – Burmans Pharmacy has been voted one of the best pharmacies by readers of the Delaware County Daily Times. “We are honored that our reputation for going above and beyond the needs and expectations of patients was recognized by readers,” said Steve Burman, President & CEO of Burmans Pharmacy. “Patients and physicians have relied on Burmans dedicated and knowledgeable team to assist with every step, from prescribing to final delivery, for almost 50 years.” More than 100,000 Times readers voted for local businesses in more than 180 categories.
Prepay review for hospital beds headed for Jurisdiction D
INDIANPOLIS – National Government Services, the Jurisdiction B DME MAC, has announced a widespread prepay review of hospital beds. It includes the cods: E0294, E0260, E0301 and E0303. Data analysis has identified these codes as having a high comprehensive error rate testing (CERT). If you are selected, you will receive and additional documentation request letter asking for certain documentation.
E-commerce site adds pediatrics
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Discountmedicalsupplies.com has launched a pediatric division, it announced Oct. 6. The site will offer brand-name children’s medical supplies, including mobility, nutrition, diapers and orthopedics. Discountmedicalsupplies also announced that it plans to make “substantial” medical supply and financial donations to three South Florida children’s hospitals, up to $30,000 over the course of a year. "DiscountMedicalSupplies.com is now truly a one-stop shop and full-service website for entire families," says CEO John Solomon. The ecommerce site now offers more than 40,000 products.
New look at VGM Homelink
WATERLOO, Iowa – On the heels of its growth, VGM Homelink has rebranded and has a new logo, according to a press release. The managed care division of VGM, Homelink has doubled its size in three year. Homelink enables commercial insurance and workers’ compensation programs to access HME and related services through its nationwide network of more than 11,000 independent providers. “We are ready for a new look to grow with us, but I want to emphasize that we are the same Homelink that focuses on value, relationships and quality outcomes,” said Dave Kazynski, president.
YARMOUTH, Maine – Come Nov. 4, HME providers say they will do their civic duty and vote. Whether they expect it to make a difference is another story.
“I feel like we have to vote to do our part, but I don’t see changes coming due to this election,” said Sandi Hall, of Tri-State Respiratory in Cleveland, Tenn. “It feels as if not enough senators and congressmen see the real picture.”
In a recent HME NewsPoll, nearly 100% of providers say they will vote; 65% say they expect the election outcomes to have an impact.
“I’m hopeful new members will shake things up and finally start passing legislation that not only improves our economy but shows CMS and other government agencies that we have to be smart,” said Lori Sears, owner of Active Home Medical Supply in Lapeer, Mich. “Just because you save Medicare Part B dollars doesn’t mean you’re saving CMS money overall.”
The other 45% of providers are feeling decidedly pessimistic about politics.
“I have never disliked our government more than I have the past four years,” said Michael Mayfield, of Signature Healthcare in Hunt Valley, Md. “Their inability to see the positive impact our industry has on healthcare costs is beyond comprehension.”
Providers rank the economy as their top concern (52%), followed by health care (38%) and industry-specific issues like audits and competitive bidding (29%).
It’s important to keep pushing for change, say providers.
“We have to pursue them diligently with our issues before and after they are elected,” said one provider. “We have to remind them of the consequences of their bad public policy. I’ll vote Democratic and hope they behave like Democrats.”
Other providers say its time to put Republicans back in charge.
“If we don’t put all Republicans in office, we will be in deeper water than we are in now,” said one provider.
One thing is certain: The Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, remains unpopular with providers.
“If we cannot get Obamacare overturned, and get a handle on audits, our industry will continue to be adversely affected,” said one provider.
ATLANTA – Provider Todd Tyson, owner of Hi Tech Healthcare, and John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group, met with Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Oct. 10 to urge his support for H.R. 5083, which would improve the audit process, and H.R. 4920, which would require binding bids. “We stressed the importance of the timing of adding language to legislation that may move through Congress this year because CMS is already beginning the registration Round 2 Rebid this fall, with actual bidding to begin in the winter,” said Tyson in a release. Price has supported the HME industry in the past. In 2013, he sponsored H.R. 1717, which would have replaced competitive bidding with a market-pricing program. The bill eventually reached 180 cosponsors.
Littleton Home Care Supply acquired by local family
WILMINGTON, Ohio - Littleton Home Care Supply, Inc. has been acquired by local entrepreneurs, Robert and Cynthia Bevan. The full service retail store has been serving the HME needs of the Wilmington, Ohio area since 1979. “Our goal is to take the business to the next level by continuing to provide high-quality service while offering new products and skills for the community,” said the new operations manager, James Long. Duckridge Advisors served as the advisor for the Littleton family in the sale. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
180 Medical hailed as ‘best place to work’
OKLAHOMA CITY - 180 Medical has once again been named one of the best places to work in Oklahoma by Oklahoma City-based okc.BIZ and Best Companies Group. “Being named as one of the best places to work in Oklahoma for the fifth year says so much about our company and what we stand for, because it’s based on what our employees think and say about the work experience here,” said Sharon Hodnett, director of human resources at 180 Medical. Over the past two years, the provider has hired 120 employees and recently moved into a new 60,000-square-foot facility.
Dr. Comfort donates to American Diabetes Association
MILWAUKEE - Dr. Comfort will donate $10 to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for every pair of athletic shoes sold from its newest Athletic Shoe line through the end of the year. “As a therapeutic footwear company, the fight against diabetes is very important to us,” said Product Manager Rob Heglin. The footwear manufacturer will also participate in several of the ADA’s “Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes” events.
VGM to hit the road
WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group experts will tour 11 states in November and December with their new business seminar, “HME in 2015 and Beyond: The VGM Preparation Series.” The day-long seminars, co-sponsored by state associations, will cover Round 2 recompete strategies, 2016 U.S. regional single payment data, patient outcomes, and human resources management.
Retail medical supply store Med-Star Plus recently opened its doors in Burlington, N.C.…Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa and Mitchell County Regional Health Center have partnered to open Mitchell County Home Medical Shoppe, a local medical equipment store, in Osage, Iowa…In September, Keystone Medical Equipment opened its third store in Hometown, Pa. The store offers stairlifts, scooters, lift chairs, hospital beds, walkers, orthotics, diabetic supplies, oxygen, CPAP and supplies, nebulizers, TENS units, power chairs, wound care, wheelchairs and compression hosiery.
People news: Heinz, Nash, Estrella
EZ-Access has hired David Heinz as director of sales and Dale Nash as national sales manager to beef up its Home Health Care division. Both Heinz and Nash have more than 30 years of sales experience…Karyn Estrella, executive director of the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England, was renewed as a certified association executive (CAE). Less than 5% of all association professionals have earned the CAE.
ATLANTA – AAHomecare’s “Stand Up for Homecare” annual reception raised more than $50,000.
"To raise thousands of dollars for great organizations out there working with our patients is a great achievement in an industry where everyone is facing a struggle,” said Tom Ryan, President and CEO of AAHomecare. “This goes to show how giving this HME industry is; we’re always looking out for one another.”
The groups included the American Association of People with Disabilities, the United Spinal Associations, Paralyzed Veterans of America and AAHomecare’s Save My Medical Supplies.
More than 300 HME industry leaders attended the Tuesday night event at the Atlanta Metro Chamber. Stand Up originally began as a way to help providers affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The campaign has since evolved and is currently focused on building a positive perception of the HME industry in Washington as well as promoting public education on the regulatory problems it faces.
AAHomecare also awarded Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations at Invacare Corporation and Joe Mills, chief executive officer of Advanced Homecare with the Homecare Champion Award for their leadership in the HME industry.
ATLANTA – It may seem like the industry isn’t making any progress on resolving its myriad issues, but that’s not the case, Jay Witter told attendees during AAHomecare’s Washington Update at Medtrade.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders,” said Witter, senior vice president of public policy. “We are in the best position I have ever seen.”
This year brought Medtrade, which took place Oct. 20-23, back to the familiar territory of Atlanta. Although attendance was flat, the show drew 101 new exhibitors and about 1,000 first-time attendees.
That bodes well for the future, says Show Director Kevin Gaffney.
“There are companies coming in here with cool and unique products and they want to be engaged in the HME industry because they see the demographic potential,” Gaffney says.
That demographic potential includes a 70% increase in those ages 65 and older by 2020, Alan Morris, director of business development for Healthcall, told attendees during one session at the show.
On Tuesday evening, the AAHomecare Stand Up for Homecare reception raised more than $50,000 for consumer advocacy groups.
During the event, held at the Atlanta Metro Chamber, Drive Medical CEO Harvey Diamond, urged attendees to do more to support the industry. He asked attendees to step up their own financial contributions and to reach out to five others and challenge them to become an AAHomecare supporter by contributing $1,000 to the next Stand Up event.
"We care about this industry, we care about this business and we care about the people we serve,” Diamond said.
Best in show
A panel of marketing experts doled out awards for innovation and technology at Medtrade Fall. Canadian exhibitor Top & Derby won Best Booth Under 400 square feet, while Carex, based in Norwell, Mass., earned the award for Best Booth Over 400 square feet. Stander took home the Creative Concepts award for its camo-inspired theme. Taiwan-based MicroBase Technology’s portable nebulizer received the Providers Choice Gold Award, Philips Respironics’ travel briefcase won silver and Golden Technologies took bronze for its Shiatsu Lift Chair.
PHOENIX – Valley Healthcare Group has acquired Heartland Health Therapy, adding a total of six sleep centers and four DME locations in Arizona and Nebraska. “We can now service patients from the southern border of Arizona to Prescott, covering 75% of the state’s population,” said owner Ron Evans. The company plans to open three new Infinity Sleep Solutions sleep centers in Phoenix and Tucson in the next 2 months, raising their total number of facilities to 20 and annual revenue to $20 million.
AAHomecare unveils app
ATLANTA – The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) debuted their new AAHomecare app last week. Beth Ludwick, AAHomecare senior director of communications said she “designed this app to give users access to breaking news when it happens, not just from AAHomecare, but from the top industry publications that are covering HME issues.” Those who download the app will have access to AAHomecare breaking news, member alerts, and Twitter activity, a group chat wall where users can post messages and ask questions, and the latest from industry publications.
VGM creates state licensure kit
WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has created a “tool box” on its website for those looking to push DME state licensure reform. “The political landscape is ripe for licensure and now is the time for DME to be part of the broader health care conversation with legislators,” said Tom Powers, state legislative director of VGM Government Relations. “Requiring DME licensure within states will create safeguards for the medical industry and will raise the bar for local care.” The tool box includes a list of grassroots strategies, tips on finding a legislative sponsor and follow up advice, as well guides to the legislative process.
CareTouch offers end-of-year promotions
WESTMINSTER, Colo. – CareTouch Communications has released two end-of-year promotions for HME providers, whether they use Mediware Fastrack or not, to boost resupply revenues. Existing Mediware Fastrack customers can begin a resupply program by the end of 2014 and receive a communication module at no cost, while new customers using different billing systems can begin a resupply program this year and receive a free outreach campaign which reminds patients to order supplies before their deductibles reset.
Brightree partners with Conduit Office
ATLANTA – As the exclusive reseller of Conduit Office, Brightree has announced the availability of MyForms, which will give providers direct access to workflow and forms automation technology. Using MyForms, Chris Watson, chief strategy officer at Brightree said, “providers can now leverage an intelligent and automated workflow technology that is proven to lower operational costs, improve financial performance and reduce the risk of errors.”
National Seating & Mobility branch opens in Ohio
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – National Seating & Mobility opened a new branch earlier this month. The location will serve Northeastern Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania. “We will service assistive technology, complex rehab and all mobility needs,” said Branch Manager Bob Garwood. Garwood, along with his staff, was formerly employed by Boardman Medical Rehab, which closed earlier this year.
Ottobock sponsors surf session
HALIFAX, NS – At least 18 registered surfers and 80 volunteers attended Life Rolls On’s “They Will Surf Again” event on Sept. 20. Ottobock Canada was the presenting sponsor of the program, which gives those with mobility disabilities the chance to surf with the help of program experts and adaptive equipment. “We consider Nova Scotia to be Canada’s Ocean Playground. For those with mobility disabilities, accessing our shores is a daunting task,” said event organizer, Paula Green. “Beyond providing the opportunity to surf, we’re happy to create a fun and friendly environment for both participants and volunteers to enjoy a great day at the beach together.” The non-profit was founded by Jesse Billauer, an avid surfer and quadriplegic.
WASHINGTON – When Beth Ludwick designed AAHomecare’s new app, she designed it for HME stakeholders, as well as herself.
“I included exactly what I need to see in the morning,” said Ludwick, senior director of communications for AAHomecare. “I’m not here to push news and content on people.”
The free app features breaking news and member alerts from AAHomecare, a group chat wall, AAHomecare’s Twitter feed and the latest from industry publications.
“We’re a whole different organization now,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO. “In the past, I think one of the things associations did—and maybe we did—was we kept our information close to the vest and felt that it was a member benefit.”
Member or not, Ryan now wants to see AAHomecare become a “megaphone” for the HME industry.
“If we can be the funnel for industry news, I think it brands well with us,” he added.
When it comes to adapting to technology and social media, Ludwick said the HME industry doesn’t have the luxury of standing by the sidelines.
“The 35 to 54 demographic is changing how they interact with news,” she said. “That segment of the population is consuming their news via social media, Twitter and on their phones, so it’s not just millennials that are going across platforms to get their news and interact.”
Ryan, who recently started tweeting himself, agrees.
“I think people want to communicate in real time,” he said. “They want to have it at their finger tips and if we want to be a leading association, we have to lead in that communication process.”
WASHINGTON – The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) held a hearing last week on the ongoing backlog of audits and efforts to address the problem, but industry stakeholders who attended said it was extremely frustrating. “They seem to think the providers need to be educated on documentation,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government relations for Pride Mobility. “The audit process is broken.” It was clear during the meeting that real-time, practical solutions weren’t high on the agenda “Significant dollars are tied up and the providers are going out of business," said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, at the hearing. “Pilot programs are all well and good, but these are years away and I have providers going out of business every day.”
3B Solutions, CMB Solutions partner
INDIANAPOLIS and LAKE WALES, Fla. – CPAP manufacturer 3B Technologies and patient contact compliance management software company CMB Solutions have formed a strategic partnership, the two companies announced today. 3B’s iCode Connect, a cloud-based patient management system, will be integrated with CMB’s own cloud-based system to provide an automated and efficient platform and make it easier for HME providers to process orders, according to a press release.
Brightree and First Choice Medical Supply offer new interface
ATLANTA – A new integrated interface will allow providers to purchase First Choice Medical Supply products through Brightree’s ePurchasing platform. “In this time of reduced reimbursements and increased operating costs, providers are constantly seeking efficiencies to streamline their operations while providing exceptional service,” said Mark Crick, vice president of Home Care Sales at First Choice Medical Supply.According Crick, the integration will save customers valuable time, reduce operating costs and improve patient care due to faster delivery and streamlined order workflows.
Burmans gets another nod
BROOKHAVEN, Pa. – Burmans Medical Supplies has been named a winner of the Patient Safety Award at the annual Innovation Awards presented by Philadelphia Business Journal and UnitedHealthcare. The provider uses a coordinated care approach to ensure optimal access, management, safety and outcomes. Maintaining close relationships with patients, providers, payers and others prevent gaps in care. Also in October, Burmans was voted one of the best pharmacies by the readers of the Delaware County Times. “We are thrilled to be recognized by so many organizations in our area,” said Steve Burman, president and CEO.
Sigvaris launches educational campaign
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. – Sigvaris has released a pair of videos to help educate people on how to keep their legs healthy. The longer video will air on PBS starting this week, while a shorter, commercial segment will air on major news networks such as CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC. The free content is also available for use for physician offices, health centers, pharmacies and HME providers. “What many people don’t realize is that symptoms such as leg swelling, achy legs and varicose veins often indicate the early stages of chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that if left untreated may worsen over time,” says Judith Brannan, education and medical affairs manager for Sigvaris North America.
CPAP survey reveals benefits
BOSTON – A new National Sleep Therapy (NST) poll found that CPAP users saw mental and physical improvements after getting a good night’s sleep. More than 120 CPAP users took the survey created by NST President, Eric Cohen, which asked respondents to check off all the benefits they received from CPAP therapy. Of those who responded: 48% reported being able to stay awake more during the day; 40% said they drive and/or focus on tasks better; 28% have a better attitude; and 3% reported having a better love life.
Tranquility transforms its image
DUNBRIDGE, Ohio – Principle Business Enterprises debuted a new logo and website, and updated its retail packaging for its Tranquility Premium Protection brand. “These innovative undertakings are a sign of an exciting future for the Tranquility brand. Our goal is to better tell the story of how our Tranquility Incontinence Products uplift the quality of life through unmatched protection,” says Tim Philpott, director of marketing at Principle Business Enterprises. The new website features a customized interactive product finder as well as product information for users and medical professionals.
Analysts forecast growth
NEW YORK – Persistence Market Research, a U.S.-based market intelligence firm, released a new global forecast for the HME industry through 2020. According to the report, analysts expect Asia to experience high growth rates over the next five years due to growing demographics and economies in developing countries, such as India and China. The report attributes an increasingly older population and a rise in disposable income as some of the driving forces for the expansion. The forecast also warns that issues with safety and effectiveness could potentially hinder growth in the global HME market.
Convaid donates for a cause
TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid recently donated a wheelchair to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF) Southern California Chapter’s Strollathon. The California-based manufacturer, which specializes in lightweight, compact-folding and adaptive-assisted wheelchairs, has been partnering with the South Southern California Chapter for more than a decade. “This partnership has directly contributed to the success of our event and put smiles on the faces of so many of our children and their families,” said event coordinator, Sherri Brady. Organizers raffled off the Convaid wheelchair to raise research money and public awareness for Rett syndrome. The winner of the chair will be able to customize it to match his/her therapeutic needs.
KD Smart Chair supports paralyzed vets
MIAMI, fl. – KD Smart Chair has partnered with Paralyzed Veterans of America to help veterans regain mobility and independence. "We are very proud of all of our troops and veterans that have served our country and want to give back by offering donations and complimentary electric wheelchairs to military personal that really need it," said KD Smart Chair Vice President, Roland Reznik.For every donation the public makes, KD Smart Chair will make an additional donation with 10% of all proceeds going directly to Paralyzed Veterans of America.
New provider has style
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – A new company in Beverly Hills hopes to bring style to the HME industry by offering customers “fashionable” products. "No one wants their house to look like a hospital room," says Alison Emerick, president of Ease Living. Ease Living currently offers lifestyle aids, such as grab bars, compression socks and rollators on its website; and is considering adding a print catalog and bricks-and-mortar location.
WASHINGTON – Late Friday afternoon, CMS released its final rule for DME payment adjustments and it looks basically unchanged from the proposed rule.
HME industry stakeholders are currently analyzing the final rule, which will be published in the Nov. 6 Federal Register. CMS issued its proposed rule July 11.
The final rule defines changes in methodology to adjust fee schedule amounts for DME in areas where the competitive bidding program has not been implemented. The major provisions:
• Adjust fee schedule amounts for items and services based on regional prices limited by a national ceiling (110% of the average of regional prices) and floor (90% of the average of regional prices)
• Adjust fee schedule amounts for non-contiguous areas based on the average of competitive bidding pricing from these areas or the national ceiling, whichever is higher.
The regulation also calls for implementing monthly bundled payments in certain bid areas for certain DME, like standard power wheelchairs and CPAP devices, along with supplies, accessories, maintenance and repairs.
The rule does not finalize and update reflecting guidance on what training is needed to provide custom fitted orthotics for providers who are not certified orthotists.
CMS fact sheet
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Provider Clark McInroy says it was time for providers in Wyoming to get off the sidelines and get re-involved with industry issues.
“I think we’ve been a little apathetic and felt, ‘What does it matter in Wyoming?” said McInroy, owner of COPD Respiratory Services in Cheyenne. “We haven’t really had a voice.”
In August, Wyoming joined the Big Sky Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (Big Sky AMES), which also includes Idaho and Montana.
It’s not the first time providers here have tried to band together. McInroy organized a Wyoming chapter more than 20 years ago, but says it fizzled out after a few years. Part of the problem: The sheer distance between providers, which makes it difficult to stay in touch, he said. Wyoming is one of the most rural states in the country, with a population of slightly more than 500,000 spread across 97,000 square miles. McInroy estimates there are 10 or 12 independent HME providers left in the state.
With the possible nationwide expansion of competitive bid rates by 2016, McInroy and his daughter, Patricia McInroy, general manager at COPD Respiratory Services and board member at Big Sky AMES, want to educate lawmakers on the impact of the program.
“We don’t believe they understand what it’s like out here to take care of a patient that’s 100 miles away,” he said. “We are in the process of meeting with them and getting them informed of what’s going on.”
WASHINGTON – CMS plans to move forward with its plans to implement competitive bid pricing nationwide, despite widespread opposition from the HME industry.
“This is a big deal,” said Kim Brummett, senior director of regulatory affairs for AAHomecare.
The agency issued its final rule Oct. 31. The proposed rule was published in July.
The biggest concern: the application of bid rates in non-competitive bidding areas (CBAs), beginning Jan. 1, 2016 and phased-in over a six-month time period. In rural areas, defined as a postal zip code with more than 50% of its geographic area outside of an MSA, or a zip code that has a low population density area that was excluded from bidding, the payment amount will be 110% of the average single payment amount (SPA) of all the competitive bid areas.
“We still contend that those SPAs are not reflective of costs and they are not sustainable,” said Brummett.
Rehab stakeholders are already seeking clarification on how CMS plans to determine payments for wheelchair accessories. The agency says it plans to use the weighted average of the SPAs for accessories used on different base equipment, but that could create complications for complex rehab.
“It appears they may look to apply some of the wheelchair accessory codes to complex rehab even though complex rehab is exempt from the bidding program,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government relations for Pride Mobility. “There are many accessories that are subject to bidding that have been paid in the past with modifiers. It appears Medicare is looking to move away from the application of such modifiers.”
Unlike in CBAs, there’s no requirement for providers in rural areas to service patients or accept assignment—creating a potential access issue, stakeholders say, although CMS disagrees.
“CMS still contends that they don’t anticipate that patients will have any issues with access to care, nor do they think the volume of unassigned claims will increase,” said Brummett.
An Office of Inspector (OIG) study on the impact of bidding on rural studies needs to be done before CMS moves ahead with its plan, say stakeholders.
“Congress needs to put the brakes on the nationwide roll-out until they get an OIG study,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group. “The OIG says it will take them until the end of 2015 to finalize the study.”
Meanwhile, says Gallagher, the OIG has indicated it is seeing access issues, particularly with oxygen.
The final rule also includes a scaled-back plan to create bundled payments for certain DME. While the proposed rule included oxygen, standard manual wheelchairs, enteral nutrition, RADs and hospital beds, the final version only includes power wheelchairs and CPAP in up to 12 areas.
“The goal with testing bundling is to phase it in more broadly in the long term,” said Brummett. “This is something we certainly have to watch and participate in and provide feedback.”
WASHINGTON – The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) is seeking public input on current initiatives to deal with the increased workload and backlog of appeals at the administrative law judge (ALJ) level. In a notice published in the Nov. 5 Federal Register, OMHA asks, among other questions: Are there other suggestions for addressing the increased workload and/or backlog of appeals at the Administrative Law Judge level that comply with current statutory authorities and requirements? AAHomecare officials will meet with Chief ALJ Nancy Griswold next week. Comments are due Dec. 5.
Is Blackstone shopping Apria?
LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Private equity firm The Blackstone Group is said to be in discussions to sell Apria Healthcare, according to an article published on Reuters PE Hub. Blackstone acquired Apria in 2008 for $1.6 billion. In late 2013, Apria sold Coram, its home infusion business, to CVS Caremark for $2.1 billion. The infusion business had revenues of $975.3 million in the third quarter of 2013—about 53% of Apria’s revenue.
VGM creates new division
WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM has created a new Emerging Markets division to drum up high-potential business opportunities. Ron Bendell will take the reins as president of the division. Bendell, the former president of VGM and Associates, has been with the company for nearly two decades. “We remain very optimistic about the long-term outlook for HME, related health care opportunities and our business,” said VGM CEO Van Miller. Clint Geffert will replace Bendell as the new president of VGM and Associates; and Chris Hetherton has been named as vice president of operations for VGM and Associates. Changes take effect Dec. 1.
NSM acquires Hudson
NASHVILLE – National Seating & Mobility (NSM) has acquired Hudson Seating & Mobility, it announced today, absorbing nine branches and approximately 200 employees. Based in Newington, Conn., and founded in 1980, Hudson’s has nine branches in six states from New Jersey to New Hampshire, according to a press release. NSM has made several buys this year, including Pennsylvania-based Able Mobility Center in September and Rhode Island-based Major Medical Supply in June.
Health insurer to open sleep store
PITTSBURGH – Highmark in December plans to open a retail location in Homestead, Pa., to address sleeplessness and sleep apnea. REMWorks Sleep Store will offer CPAP machines and mask fittings as well as over-the-counter solutions for non-medical sleep issues. "We saw a market demand that was not being met, and that's what led to the development of the sleep store concept," said Paul Puopolo, VP of business innovation and development at Highmark. REMWorks will accept most regional and national insurance carriers for clinical services.
New entry to online incontinence market
PEMBROKE, Mass. – The Incontinence Company on Nov. 4 launched with a website featuring a wide selection of products, advice and home delivery, the company announced. “Millions of Americans are coping with incontinence, and it isn’t easy to find a variety of products and sizes in local stores, never mind an expert to advise you on what’s available and might best suit your situation,” said Ann Landauer, media coordinator for the new online company. The Incontinence Company also offers a wide selection of home healthcare products and mobility equipment, including bath safety products, aids to daily living and specialty bariatric products to make home care easier.
Better Rest Solutions stands up to drowsy driving
BOSTON – In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Better Rest Solutions (BRS) will donate $5 to the National Sleep Foundation for every SoClean and SoClean 2 Go sold in November. “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is such an important campaign for sleep apnea patients to be aware of,” said Mike Schmidt, president of BRS. The Uxbridge, Mass.-based manufacturer has also agreed to donate $1 for every 10 individuals (up to $2,500) who pledge to take a stand against drowsy driving. This past spring, the company celebrated sleep apnea awareness with a similar effort.
Naturs Design announces “Game-Changer”
MINNEAPOLIS – Naturs Design and the Pro Player Health Alliance have teamed up to for a new educational campaign. “It’s a Game-Changer” will focus on helping former and current NFL pro-players and others suffering from sleep apnea comply with CPAP therapy. The campaign’s spokesperson and NFL Hall of Famer, Carl Eller, was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and has been using RemZzzs with his CPAP mask during therapy. “Carl can speak from personal experience,” said Robert Rutan, CEO of Naturs Design. “His voice will be heard among pro-players and by sleep apnea patients nationwide.” Eller kicked off the campaign by signing autographs and handing out free samples of RemZzzs CPAP mask liners during the Nov. 2 Minnesota Vikings home game.
New sleep store opens its doors
DENVER – Somnia, a sleep wellness retail store, opened at Park Meadows Mall in Colorado this month. Founded in 2013, Somnia offers pediatric sleep coaching, free sleep assessments, in-home OSA sleep testing devices and CPAP equipment for those who suffer from insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. "We spent a significant amount of time studying the sleep market and learning how few people seek medical help for their sleep problems," said Peter Fatianow, president and CEO. "It's inexcusable that 75% of the millions of people affected by OSA remain undiagnosed. No other chronic condition has those statistics."
TiLite walks the walk
Kennewick, Wash. – More than 50 TiLite employees raced custom-built wheelchairs at the Trios Health Tri-Cities Marathon in October. Teams worked in groups of four, each rolling approximately 6.5 miles, according to a local newspaper. According to David Lippes, founder and president of the Pasco-based wheelchair manufacturer, the marathon encapsulated the spirit of a former company rule requiring new employees to spend 24 hours in a wheelchair so they could better understand the challenges wheelchair users face.
ECS Billing & Consulting North has been re-accredited by HQAA. ECS is the only billing company in the U.S. to receive this accreditation...Carlsbad, Calif.–based Access Medical has opened two new locations, in Burlingame and Palm Desert. Founded in 2006 by Blaine Hunt, Access Medical focuses on custom wheelchairs…AirWare Labs has filed a patent application for a new CPAP treatment system that replaces bulky CPAP masks with a streamlined nasal design. AirWare Labs’ design will eliminate dryness and irritation due to the system’s high flow nasal cannula, which will increase airflow by up to 60% and diffuse the flow of air as it enters the nasal passage…Matthews, N.C.–based Carolina's Home Medical Equipment has restructured to handle an increased demand created by the Round 1 recompete of the competitive bidding program and has created a new position to oversee audit activity and regulatory compliance.
Sequel Response has hired Collin Carroll as it new marketing manager. A former reporter, Carroll will help the company grow into new advertising channels…Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment has promoted Andrew Trammell to vice president and CFO; Kaitlin Nacarato to director of regulatory and revenue enhancement; Cilia Dioguardo to customer service manager; and John Melton to patient service manager.