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    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS’s efforts to reduce improper payments have saved nearly $42 billion, according to a new report.

    The savings, from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2014, equate to an average savings of $12.40 for every dollar spent, according to a new report form the Center for Program Integrity.

    The CPI’s efforts include making sure enrolled healthcare providers are properly screened; using predictive analytics to prevent fraud, waste and abuse; and coordinating anti-fraud efforts with federal and external partners, including state Medicaid and agencies and law enforcement agencies.

    “CMS’s efforts to proactively prevent potentially fraudulent and improper payments from being made have been increasingly effective, moving our efforts away from the ‘pay-and-chase’ method of recovering payments after they had already been made,” the agency stated in a press release.

    In fiscal year 2013, savings from prevention activities represented 68% of total savings; that rose to nearly 74% in fiscal year 2014.

    “CMS is dedicated to promoting better care, protecting patient safety, reducing healthcare costs, and providing people with access to the right care, when and where they need it,” the agency stated. “This includes continually strengthening and improving Medicare and Medicaid programs that provide vital services to millions of Americans.”  

    CMS will release fiscal year 2015 numbers later this year.

    Respironics connects vents to care management app

    MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Philips Respironics announced July 21 that its Trilogy family of portable ventilators will be activated to connect to its Care Orchestrator care management application later this year. Care Orchestrator is an application that connects clinical management workflow, informatics and intelligence for providers, payers and patients within a single cloud-based platform. Philips Respironics has distributed connectivity-ready Trilogy vents in North America since 2015, in preparation for the launch of Care Orchestrator. Homecare providers will be able to connect thousands of Trilogy vents already in the market through a simple update once Care Orchestrator is launched later in 2016. In addition to vents, Philips Respironics will also connect its EverFlo and SimplyGo oxygen concentrators, as well as its iNeb respiratory drug delivery device, to Care Orchestrator.

    Cost study now open: AAH calls for all hands on deck

    WASHINGTON – AAHomecare is asking all HME providers to submit data for the DME Industry Cost Analysis Study to help support legislation. Conducted by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, the study focuses on oxygen therapy equipment, sleep therapy devices, manual wheelchairs, hospital beds and walkers. “The more surveys completed, the stronger the data will be when presented to members of Congress this fall,” AAHomecare stated in an update. “The results will also be available for companies to compare their costs of doing business to the average costs of the industry.” The survey takes three to four hours to complete. To participate, providers can download the survey at and e-mail it to Steven Heath at Dobson DaVanzo & Associates at

    Kroger expands specialty services

    CINCINNATI and ORLANDO, Fla. – Axium Pharmacy Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kroger, has agreed to acquire the outstanding shares of Modern HC Holdings, a specialty pharmacy, to create a combined specialty pharmacy that will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kroger. "Expanding our specialty pharmacy services will provide our customers with greater access to medications we don't currently dispense and access to additional services without going to another pharmacy," said Robert Clark, Kroger's senior vice president of merchandising, in a release. Orlando, Fla.-based ModernHEALTH has 500 employees and provides comprehensive specialty pharmacy services, including IVIG for patients who require IV-based therapies and comprehensive medication management for HIV, cystic fibrosis, transplant, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis and dermatology. Kroger operates 2,230 pharmacy locations and 195 The Little Clinic locations. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, including from the Federal Trade Commission. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    LabStyle opens business model to HME providers

    BURLINGTON, Mass. – LabStyle Innovations has tapped Gemco Medical to become the first authorized U.S. distributor of its Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System. The partnership will complement LabStyle’s direct-to-consumer model to further expand and strengthen the company’s presence in the U.S. “The Gemco Medical partnership will allow LabStyle to expand its reach to thousands of pharmacies and durable medical equipment dealers across the country,” said Erez Raphael, CEO and chairman, in a press release. “This expansion will also allow Dario access on commercial health plans that cover blood glucose monitoring supplies as a medical benefit.” LabStyle’s flagship product, the Dario Smart Diabetes Management Solution, is a platform for diabetes management that combines the all-in-one Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System meter, test strips and controls with a real-time native smartphone app that includes a variety of tools to support and engage users, doctors and healthcare systems.

    NCPA establishes new Innovation Center

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has announced the creation of a new Innovation Center to speed up the evolution of independent community pharmacies. “Working together with NCPA staff, the Innovation Center will help better position independent community pharmacies to be part of and benefit from broader healthcare changes,” said Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO, in a release. “Its driving mission is to help independent community pharmacies continue to prosper in step with healthcare changes rather than being left behind them.” The Innovation Center will develop programs to educate community pharmacists about the opportunities in an evolving healthcare market. It will also demonstrate, research and support new and expanded roles for community pharmacists through peer-to-peer exchanges of best practices. Hoey will serve as chairman of the board and Kurt Proctor, NCPA senior vice president of strategic initiatives, will serve as president.

    Sunrise Medical introduces ‘One Team’

    FRESNO, Calif. – Sunrise Medical has formed a new team of ambassadors comprised of 39 elite athletes representing 15 countries and competing in 14 sports. As part of “One Team One Will,” the athletes use manual and sport wheelchairs manufactured by Sunrise Medical under its Quickie, RGK and Sopur brands. “The One Team One Will program brings ambassadors together from around the world to share their experience and provide inspiration to others,” the company stated in a press release. “This program includes profiles of each of the athletes, their training and experience so that others can be encouraged to participate in sports and maintain a healthy lifestyle.” Find out more about the team by going to cheer them on by visiting Sunrise Medical’s social media channels.

    Respironics passes FAA test

    MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Philips Respironics announced July 21 that its SimplyGo Mini portable oxygen concentrator conforms to all applicable Federal Aviation Administration requirements for carriage and in-flight use onboard aircraft. SimplyGo Mini is now a new option for HME providers to offer active respiratory patients, following the legacy of its predecessor, the SimplyGo. “With its lightweight design and reliable therapy delivery system, SimplyGo Mini empowers patients who struggle with respiratory disorders to continue living full, engaged lives,” the company stated in a press release. SimplyGo Mini is the latest addition to Philips Respironics'“Right Fit” portfolio of oxygen products and programs.

    Convaid, R82 combine brands

    TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid and R82 have taken another step to integrate their pediatric businesses. The companies have combined their brands under a new toll-free phone number: 844-US MOBILITY. “We now have one integrated team and toll-free phone number to handle all your pediatric needs, be it for products from the R82 or Convaid brands,” the companies stated in a bulletin. Convaid sold to Etac AB, which offers pediatric products under the R82 brand, last year.

    AOPA recognizes outstanding achievement

    WASHINGTON – The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association has named Thomas Watson as its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner. Watson, along with his wife Barbara, owns Tom Watson’s Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab, with locations in Owensboro and Evansville, Ky. He is a past president of AOPA and has served on the association’s government relations committee. An above-knee amputee since his teens, Watson has long supported programs for people with physical disabilities and is affiliated with several organizations, including Veterans Affairs and the Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center. AOPA will present Watson with the award at its National Assembly in Boston in September.

    PHS nurses rank among best

    ST. PAUL, Minn. – Two nurses at Pediatric Home Service were recognized by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine as part of its 2016 Outstanding Nurses awards. Kate Joseph, RN, BSN, won in the children’s health category; and Jessica Riemenschnedier, RN, BSN, won in the rising star category. Two other PHS nurses, Steve Moehrle, RN, BAN, and Kate Joseph, RN, BSN, were also named as finalists. “These nurses are impacting patients across the metro by using the full extent of their skills to help patients stay happy, healthy and at home with their families,” said Michelle Curley, infusion nurse manager.

    NCPA videos promote indie pharmacies

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has posted a second online video that illustrates the personal care that people receive at independent community pharmacies, the contributions of their pharmacists to better coordinating care, and the role of these pharmacies in supporting their local communities. The video features Theresa Tolle, RPh, owner of Bay Street Pharmacy, which serves the Sebastian, Fla., area with the motto “Where caring people care for you.” “Patients often say they choose to rely on independent community pharmacies because they are treated like family and that they want to support their local community and economy,” said NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey, RPh. “Theresa’s story and the care provided by her pharmacy perfectly illustrate that dynamic.” The NCPA’s first video featured Danny Cottrell, RPh, and the civic, philanthropic and economic contributions of independent community pharmacies. The association represents 22,000 independent community pharmacies.

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    Cover yourself in more ways than one, says Greene
    Liz Beaulieu

    As if the sheer quantity of audits wasn’t enough to contend with, HME providers often have to untangle inconsistencies in regulations and guidance, says Stephanie Morgan Greene, a healthcare attorney who’s executive vice president of business development for ACU-Serve.

    Case in point: C2C Solutions, the CMS contractor handling the second level of Medicare appeals, says it will not consider an amendment added after the date of delivery, but the Program Integrity Manual is less black and white on the issue, Greene says.

    “There is guidance from the DME MACs on how to apply the Affordable Care Act and it says you have to have the amendment before delivery, but the manual doesn’t say anything about it,” she said. “C2C is applying this across the board to items not listed in the Affordable Care Act, such as prosthetics.”

    Another case in point: The DME MACs have said that the HCPCS long definition for orthotics and prosthetics does not meet the requirement to sufficiently describe what’s being delivered to the patient, but the Program Integrity Manual says it is enough, Greene says.

    “There’s a lot of confusion out there around proof of delivery,” she said. “You have different regulations coming out from different contractors, and you have regulations come out from CMS, and the contractors aren’t clarifying.”

    So what’s a provider to do?

    “Try to comply with both sets of guidance until the confusion has been resolved,” Greene said. “For example, for proof of delivery, we include the HCPCS long definition, the brand name and the serial number.” hme

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    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Although lawmakers are on recess, HME industry stakeholders have been holding strategy sessions on efforts to push through relief in non-bid areas.

    AAHomecare, VGM and the Council for Quality Respiratory Care, as well as other D.C.-based HME lobbyists met recently with Senate staffers who reaffirmed their commitment to get a delay to the July 1 reimbursement cuts when Congress returns in September, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare.Staffers indicated during the meeting that making the delay retroactive would help the bill’s prospects.

    Stakeholders were also pulling out all the stops to gather information to bolster its efforts. AAHomecare extended the deadline for a cost study analysis to Aug. 5.

    “By taking the time to share your company’s data, you will be helping AAHomecare and other HME stakeholders make the strongest possible case for fairer reimbursement policy,” said the association. “Consider this effort an investment to help achieve legislative delay.

    Another survey from AAHomecare is geared toward medical professionals, discharge planners and care managers. It seeks information on their experience trying to obtain HME for their patients.

    Complex rehab leader passes away

    MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – The complex rehab community is mourning the loss of Simon Margolis, an industry leader and advocate, who passed away July 25 at the age of 66.

    Passionate about preserving access to complex rehab, Margolis was involved in the creation of NCART and NRRTS.

    He served on the NCART, RESNA and NRRTS Boards of Directors; as president of RESNA and NRRTS; and ultimately as executive director of NRRTS for seven years before retiring in 2013 due to health concerns.

    "As a clinician, provider, manufacturer, inventor, accreditation surveyor, or organizational leader Simon wore many hats and brought diverse perspectives to all his conversations,” said Gary Gilberti, past NCART president, in an NCART newsletter.

    Stakeholders say they will continue to fight for access to CRT in his memory.

    “Simon can rest in peace knowing his dedicated contributions left the world much better for people with disabilities and for those of us who knew and worked with him, added Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

    Apacheta reports growth

    MEDIA, Pa. – Apacheta Corporation has nearly doubled its customer base and increased revenue 75% since June 2015, it announced today. The mobile business solutions provider attributes the growth to its expansion into the HME market, which gained a 120% increase in new customers adopting its cloud-based solution in the past 12 months. "The shift in the mobile logistics market from expensive upfront hardware and software to subscription-based cloud services and low cost BYOD handhelds fueled our rapid growth across the board, but particularly in the HME/DME industry," said Gregg Timmons, CEO of Apacheta. The company partnered with Brightree in 2015 to launch an integrated mobile delivery management solution for HME providers.

    VGM rebrands division
    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM has renamed its product and apparel division as part of a rebrand. VGM Apparel and Promotions, formerly VGM Corporate Specialties, originally announced the name change at the VGM Heartland Conference in June. As part of the rebranding campaign, VGM has launched, which features product and apparel collections as well as a “Product of the Day.”VGM rebrands division…

    …and issues call for nominations

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The deadline to nominate candidates for VGM’S HME Woman of the Year is Sept. 15. The inaugural award is open to all women working in the HME industry—nominees are not required to be VGM members or work in an executive management position. “The purpose of the award is to not only highlight existing leaders, but inspire action and mentorship to grow the HME architects of tomorrow,” said VGM Group’s CEO, Mike Mallaro, in a release. The award was announced at the VGM Heartland Conference in June.

    Comfort Medical, Wheel:Life launch peer support program

    CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. ­– Comfort Medical and Wheel:Life have partnered to introduce Comfort Conversations, a peer support program. Comfort Medical Ambassadors will share thoughts, perspective and advice on a variety of topics including relationships, lifestyle and employment, according to a press release. “We think this engagement will only lead to better service, more opportunities to assist in the marketplace, and a stronger connection with the community we serve,” said Jeff McDaniel, vice president of marketing for Comfort Medical, a mail-order provider of urological and ostomy supplies. Wheel:Life is a digital media publication and social community for wheelchair users.

    Ice Bucket Challenge pays off

    WASHINGTON – Funding generated from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the 2014 viral video awareness campaign for ALS,has yielded new genetic findings. One million dollars of the $220 million dollars raised went towards Project MinE, a University of Massachusetts Medical School Project that was able to identify the NEK1 gene, providing another potential target for therapy development. NCART Executive Director Don Clayback accepted the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket in honor of National CRT Awareness Week that year. Gary Gilberti of Numotion, Doug Westerdahl of Monroe Wheelchair and Greg Packer of U.S. Rehab were among many HME providers across the country who participated in the challenge, which ultimately raised $220 million, according to the ALS Association.

    Deadline nears for Medtrade Spring proposals

    LAS VEGAS – Proposals for Medtrade Spring are due Aug. 19. To be considered, programs must be educational in nature; material should be original; otherwise, sources must be referenced. For multiple speakers, each speaker must agree to the submission. Incomplete program submissions will not be considered. Sales presentations will not be accepted. Conference tracks include audits, business operations, competitive bidding, executive leadership, legal, Medicare updates, retail, sales and marketing and strategic planning. Medtrade Spring is slated for Feb. 28-March 1, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. FMI:

    Close monitoring of patients ensures outcomes, savings

    ORLANDO, Fla. ­–­ Close monitoring of hemophilia patients ensures bleed rate stays low and the patients can be managed with less factor VIII, according to a study by Option Care being presented at the World Federation of Hemophilia 2016 World Congress meeting today. That, in turn creates significant cost savings without affecting patient outcomes. “By working with prescribers to closely monitor bleeds and collaborate on clinically appropriate optimization of treatment dose, Option Care’s utilization of factor VIII is less than the average with excellent outcomes,” said Joan Couden, national program director for Option Care’s Bleeding Disorders Program. “Our findings show we can save payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and managed care insurers, significant costs without negatively impacting annual bleed rates.” The Option Care study included 77 hemophilia A patients receiving home infusion of factor VIII.

    SMRC reviews on schedule

    WASHINGTON – The Supplemental Medical Review Contractor has completed 14,000 PAP reviews and is on schedule to finish all 30,000 PAP reviews by late September, says AAHomecare. The SMRC is expected to complete a total of 50,000 nebulizer reviews by the end of July and 50,000 oxygen reviews by the end of September. AAHomecare has also learned that Additional Development Requests (ADRs) for all three product categories have been sent out and some suppliers are starting to receive response letters from the SMRC.

    CGS changes offset request process

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – CGS Administrators, the Jurisdiction B MAC, will no longer accept offset requests at the time of claim re-openings and adjustments, it said in a July 25 bulletin. Starting Aug. 1,suppliers who wish to have an overpayment withheld from future payments must wait for a demand letter. Upon receipt of the demand letter, the supplier may submit a request for immediate offset with, at minimum, a copy of the first page of the demand letter. Suppliers will have the option to submit a request to have their profile updated to always place any and all overpayments (provider and/or contractor identified) into immediate offset at the time of determination.


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  • 07/29/16--10:21: Industry stays busy
  • 07/29/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Although lawmakers are on recess, HME industry stakeholders have been holding strategy sessions on efforts to push through relief in non-bid areas.

    AAHomecare, VGM and the Council for Quality Respiratory Care, as well as other D.C.-based HME lobbyists met recently with Senate staffers who reaffirmed their commitment to get a delay to the July 1 reimbursement cuts when Congress returns in September, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare.Staffers indicated during the meeting that making the delay retroactive would help the bill’s prospects.

    Stakeholders were also pulling out all the stops to gather information to bolster its efforts. AAHomecare extended the deadline for a cost study analysis to Aug. 5.

    “By taking the time to share your company’s data, you will be helping AAHomecare and other HME stakeholders make the strongest possible case for fairer reimbursement policy,” said the association. “Consider this effort an investment to help achieve legislative delay.

    Another survey from AAHomecare is geared toward medical professionals, discharge planners and care managers. It seeks information on their experience trying to obtain HME for their patients.

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    HME News Staff

    SANDWICH, Mass. – Cape Medical Supply has acquired New England Medical Homecare, a long-time provider of sleep therapy services in Auburn, Mass.

    New England Medical’s location in Auburn becomes Cape Medical’s fourth full-service location and adds Worcester, Middlesex and parts of Norfolk counties to its service area.

    “As we continue to explore our strategic options for succeeding in a changing and crowded healthcare market, bringing our industry-leading sleep therapy program to one of the most populous regions of Massachusetts made a lot of sense,” said Gary Sheehan, president and CEO of Cape Medical supply.

    All current employees of New England Medical will join the team at Cape Medical.

    One of Cape Medical’s first moves will be to upgrade and renovate New England Medical’s location at 7 Saint Mark Street to include a Sleep Therapy Center. Cape Medical will also transition New England Medical to its customer service programs and technology.

    Epic Health makes two buys in one week

    DALLAS – Epic Health Services, a portfolio company of Webster Capital and a provider of pediatric skilled nursing, therapy, developmental, enteral and respiratory services, has expanded its presence in Michigan by buying Pediatric Special Care in Southfield. It has also bought Las Vegas-based Spring View Home Health Care.

    Pediatric Special Care is the only pediatric-focused nursing and HME company in Michigan. It has about 140 patients throughout the Detroit metro area, bringing Epic Health’s total patient count to 47,000. The acquisition expands Epic Health’s service territory to 18 states and adds 58 employees.

    Going forward, Pediatric Special Care’s private duty nursing business, which makes up 60% of its business, will be rebranded to Epic Health Services. The HME business, which includes vents, oxygen, enteral nutrition supplies and apnea monitors, will be rebranded to Epic Medical Solutions, a division of Epic Health Services. The owners of Pediatric Special Care, husband-and-wife team Karen and Harry McKinney, plan to retire.

    Spring View offers private-duty nursing services, as well as therapy and skilled nursing services, to the greater Las Vegas area. The deal will add 115 employees. Moving forward, Spring View will be rebranded to Epic Health. Earlier this week, Epic Health announced it had bought* Pediatric Special Care in Southfield, Mich.

    Compass Health makes second buy this year

    CLEVELAND – Compass Health Brands has acquired Meridian Medical, a manufacturer of gel overlays, cushions, support surfaces, lymphedema systems and respiratory products. “This acquisition expands our best in class product portfolio and provides us a solid platform in the pressure prevention category,” said Stuart Straus, president and CEO of Compass Health Brands. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based Meridian markets its products under the brands Air Lift, CareFore, Ultra Care, Gel Lite, Core Comfort and MediPress. Mike Cofer, president of Meridian, will stay on with Compass in the role of director of manufacturing operations. In April, Compass Health acquired the Strengthtape brand of kinesiology tape.

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    HME News Staff

    GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen last week reported double-digit increases in total revenues and net income for the second quarter ended June 30, 2016.

    The company reported total revenues of $54.6 million for the quarter, a 23.9% increase compared to the same period last year. It reported a net income of $5.1 million, a 48.7% increase.

    “Our strong results in the second quarter of 2016 reflect exceptional performance in our domestic business-to-business sales channel, which demonstrated 61.3% revenue growth over the same period in 2015,” said Ray Huggenberger, CEO. “This was primarily due to traditional home medical equipment provider purchases and continued strong private label demand for our portable oxygen concentrators.”

    Direct-to-consumer sales saw 38.5% revenue growth in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, primarily due to increased sales headcount and increased marketing expenses to drive consumer awareness.

    Inogen has increased its 2016 revenue guidance to a range of $190 million to $194 million, representing year-over-year growth of 19.5% to 22%. Previously, it provided guidance of $187 million to $191 million.

    Philips enters new era

    STAMFORD, Conn. – Royal Philips has launched an ecosystem of connected wearable technologies for people who want to take control of their health. The company has made available medical-grade health monitoring devices—a health watch, connected scale, blood pressure monitor and thermometer—and a fully integrated companion HealthSuite Health app. The company says the new devices are designed to help those at risk of chronic disease to measure and monitor their health, and to stay motivated. “We combine deep clinical know-how and rich data, consumer insights and advanced technology to craft solutions which help individuals along the whole of their health journey,” said Jorgen Behrens, business leader, personal health solutions. The company says the launch represents a new era in connected care for consumers, patients and providers, as health care continues to move outside hospitals, and into homes and everyday lives. The devices can be purchased directly from the Philips website or through Amazon. The app is free and available on iOS and Android.

    Cardinal’s 2016 financial results break records

    DUBLIN, Ohio – Cardinal Health has reported revenues of $31.4 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, a 14% increase compared to the same quarter last year. It reported revenues of $121.5 billion for fiscal year 2016, a 19% increase compared to 2015. “We finished fiscal 2016 having generated the highest revenues, the largest GAAP and non-GAAP operating earnings, and the greatest operating cash flow in our company’s history,” said George Barrett, chairman and CEO. “The Cardinal Health team is well-positioned to adapt, innovate and lead during a time of great change in the healthcare industry.” For its medical segment, Cardinal reported revenues of $3.2 billion for the fourth quarter, a 12% increase, and $12.4 billion for 2016, a 9% increase. The company’s fiscal year 2017 guidance range for non-GAAP diluted EPS from continuing operations is $5.48 to $5.73, representing growth of about 5% to 9% from the prior year.

    ConvaTec up for sale?

    GREENSBORO, N.C. – The private equity firms that own ConvaTec are preparing the company for sale, according to news reports. Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners have appointed investment bankers to prepare the groundwork for a sale potentially valuing ConvaTec in the billions of dollars, according to the Financial Times. ConvaTec, which is based in Luxembourg but has U.S. operations here, is a medical products and technologies company focused on therapies for the management of chronic conditions with leading market positions in advanced wound care, ostomy care, continence and critical care, and infusion devices. An initial public offering is the most likely avenue for exit for ConvaTec, the Times reported. Nordic and Avista, which previously tried to sell the company in 2014, bought ConvaTec for $4.1 billion from Bristol-Myers Squib in 2008. Nordic and Avista are reportedly working with bankers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and UBS.

    CBIC starts dialing

    WASHINGTON – The Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor has kicked off “secret shopper” calls to HME providers with Round 2 re-compete bid contracts, according to VGM. The CBIC uses the calls to make sure contract suppliers are serving beneficiaries. Previous rounds of these calls have resulted in termination letters. If a provider receives such a letter, they have an opportunity to submit a correction action plan and/or appeal the termination. So far, there have been no termination letters for this round of the program, but VGM reminds providers to educate staffers on how to interact with referral sources.

    VGM launches impact survey

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has launched “The Supplier Impact Survey” to provide lawmakers on Capitol Hill with real-world figures on the impact of competitive bidding on HME providers and their patients. “Congressional offices and policymakers on Capitol Hill have requested more data about how competitive bidding is negatively impacting communities in their districts and across America,” VGM stated in a bulletin. “To meet this request, VGM is launching a new advocacy tool to provide Congress with what they need.” VGM will conduct the survey quarterly to track the “real environment” of the DME industry. The current survey period is from Aug. 4-9.

    Numotion inks distribution deal

    BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion will serve as the exclusive U.S. distributor of SoftWheels in-wheel suspension technology. The technology provides rigidity and stability for manual wheelchairs, reducing the pain and discomfort associated with wheelchair use. “We are excited to offer SoftWheel by Numotion to manual wheelchair users, providing a premier lifestyle solution for their mobility needs that can improve quality of life,” said Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. SoftWheels’ technology is already in use in more than 15 countries.

    Caire opens service center

    BALL GROUND, Ga. – Caire, a Chart Industries Company, has opened a new service center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The 5,000-square-foot center, which will operate through a partnership with ReOx Medical Services, a well-known resource for respiratory equipment repair, will employ 10. “This new Caire-Authorized Service Center answers a critical need for our providers in Texas,” said Lanier Hogan, Caire technical service manager. “By partnering with ReOx, we ensure a smooth and quality experience for our customers in this local market.” Services provided at the facility will include pick-up and delivery in select locations, fast turnaround, and factory authorized warranty and out-of-warranty repairs for the Caire portfolio of stationary oxygen concentrators.

    Short takes: Breg, WatchPAT

    Breg, an integrated solutions provider, announced the launch of Vision 5.0, the latest iteration of its DME workflow management software. Vision automates and optimizes in-house bracing and supplies programs…The FDA has approved WatchPAT, a home sleep test diagnostic device for sleep apnea, for use among patients as young as 12. The decision follows similar approvals in Japan and Europe, and expands the device’s previous use in the U.S. for 17 and older.

    People: Brightree, InfuSystem, BOC, Medical Service Co.

    Brightree CEO Dave Cormack and his family have funded the construction of the new Children International Community Center and Youth Center in Cartagena, Colombia. The center will benefit 12,000 children and teens…Jonathan Foster, CFO of InfuSystem, has resigned after more than four years at the Madison Heights-based company. Trent Smith, InfuSystem's current vice president and corporate controller, will become executive vice present and chief accounting officer…The Daily Record, an online source for business and legal news, has named Claudia Zacharias, BOC president & CEO, as one of Maryland’s 2016 Most Admired CEOs. Under Zacharias, BOC’s revenue has increased nearly 50%…Medical Service Co. has hired George Breznicki as director of sales. His responsibilities include direct management of all territory managers, sales specialists, account managers and product managers.

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    HME News Staff

    FRANKLIN, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has entered into a definitive purchase agreement with Court Square Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm.

    Court Square Capital Partners will buy NSM from Wellspring Capital Management, also a New York-based private equity firm, which bought the company in December 2012.

    “This is an exciting time for NSM and we’re very pleased that Court Square is investing in our company,” said CEO Bill Mixon in a press release. “Court Square has a track record of growing businesses and is eager to help NSM strengthen its commitment to the lives of people who need mobility.”

    Court Square Capital Partners has made more than 200 investments since 1979.

    Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the next 60 days, were not disclosed, but NSM is rumored to be worth $400 million.

    Under Wellspring’s ownership, NSM has rolled up dozens of providers, most recently the complex rehab division of Webb Medical Systems in February. It has also thrown its hat into the home accessibility market, launching AccessNSM in October 2015.

    NSM is one of two national providers left in the complex rehab market. The other, Numotion, was formed in 2013 when ATG Rehab and United Seating & Mobility joined forces.

    Firm close to buying Drive, sources say

    PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Buyout firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is in talks to buy Drive DeVilbiss for about $750 million, according to Reuters. CD&R, whose previous investments have included AssuraMed, which it sold to Cardinal Health for $2.1 billion in 2013, prevailed in an auction and could strike a deal in the coming days, Reuters reported on Aug. 10. As part of the deal, top execs at Drive would join CD&R as minority investors. Drive, which is partly owned by private equity firm Ferrer, Freeman & Co., has bulked up by making more than half a dozen acquisitions since 2011, most notably DeVilbiss Healthcare last year. Other healthcare-related properties owned by CD&R include VWR International, which supplies products and services to medical laboratories; Envision Healthcare, which provides outsourced medical devices; and PharMEDium, which provides sterile compounding services.

    MediWare releases CareTend for specialty Rx market, announces user conference

    LENEXA, Kan. – The newest release of CareTend is now available for the specialty pharmacy market, Mediware has announced. The new platform allows providers to manage their workflow operations in a single dashboard that tracks output, spots delays, and analyzes employee productivity in real time, the company stated in a release. Current customers can see a live demo of CareTend at Mediware’s annual user conference, Sept. 14-16 in Orlando, Fla. In addition to software training, the conference will offer multiplesessions on reimbursement and regulation changes and other topics presented by more than 30 industry-recognized speakers. For early bird rates, register by Aug. 15.

    German ruling paves way for access to ReWalk

    MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – The ReWalk exoskeleton system has been declared medically necessary by the Social Welfare Court of Speyer in Germany, according ReWalk Robotics, the developer and manufacturer of the ReWalk. The ruling, delivered in July, states that the system should be covered by insurance for an individual with spinal cord injury, overturning the original denial of the claim by the payer, a statutory health insurance entity. "This ruling is a milestone for insurance coverage of exoskeleton technology, both in Germany and around the world," said Larry Jasinski, CEO, in a release. "With each decision approving coverage of the ReWalk, we make key advances in the effort to ensure every eligible ReWalk user has access to and coverage of their system." ReWalk is a robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with spinal cord injury to stand upright and walk, and is the first exoskeleton system to receive Food & Drug Administration clearance for use in the home and the rehabilitation setting. Founded in 2001, ReWalk has headquarters in the U.S., Israel and Germany.

    BMW builds wheelchairs for Paralympic team

    NEWBURY PARL, Calif. – BMW Designworks, the creative consultant for BMW, has collaborated with U.S. Paralympics Track and Field to design the team’s custom-fit racing chairs. By making 3D scans of the athletes in their wheelchairs and 3D computer models that could simulate changes in aerodynamics, Designworks was able to reduce drag by 15%, making small, subtle changes to the wheelchairs’ frames. The goal isn’t to give the U.S. team fancy new performance-enhancing technology, but to keep the equipment from getting in the way of the athletes’ natural skill, says Brad Cracchiola, DesignworksUSA associate director, in an interview with Fast Company. In 2014, Designworks’ bobsled design helped the U.S. team win three medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    Convaid partners with UCP to raise awareness

    TORRENCE, Calif.–Convaid is offering Convaid and R82 dealers who participate in United Cerebral Palsy’s STEPtember contest a chance to win $1,000 in product credit. Participants are being asked to walk, run, and bike a total of 10,000 steps per day. Convaid will award $1,000 to the dealer team with the most number of steps walked and the team that raises the greatest amount of money for United Cerebral Palsy. A screening of “Roll with Me,” which documents Gabe Cordell’s journey from San Francisco to New York in a push wheelchair, will be live streamed to all participating partners in honor of the month-long event.

    AAFP hears back from CMS on diabetes supplies

    WASHINGTON – The American Academy of Family Physicians has sent CMS a steady stream of letters outlining its concerns with the prescribing process for diabetic testing supplies. Finally, CMS has written back. The academy, which represents nearly 121,000 physicians, says the agency has asked for additional background information and requested further collaboration. The AAFP believes that physicians should be allowed to write prescriptions for diabetic supplies—including syringes, needles, test strips, lancets and glucose testing machines—that are good for the patient’s lifetime. While CMS pointed out in the letter that syringes and needles are not covered by the DME benefit and that itemized information is needed to support payment, it agreed to meet with the AAFP to discuss ways to “minimize documentation requirements, while maintaining the integrity of the Medicare Trust Fund.” CMS also addressed the AAFP’s concerns about unsolicited calls to beneficiaries by DME providers, and the efficacy of “unbranded” testing supplies being used by some providers. The agency asked the AAFP to report information about such calls and any products being used that don’t meet regulations.

    Alliqua turns income around in Q2

    YARDLEY, Pa. – Wound care provider Alliqua BioMedical reported total revenue of $5.5 million for the second quarter of 2016, up 75% year-over-year, compared to revenue of $3.1 million for the same period last year. Income from operations was $2.1 million for the quarter this year, compared to a loss of $8.4 million for the quarter last year. Alliqua reported total revenue of $8.4 million for the first six months of 2016, up 108%, compared to revenue of $4 million for the same period last year. Net loss was $2.5 million. The company expects total revenue of $20 million to $22 million for all of 2016, representing growth of 50% to 67% over 2015.

    VA adds MV-1 wheelchair accessible vehicles to fleet

    LIVONIA, Mich. – Mobility Ventures has announced that the Veterans Affairs has purchased five of its MV-1 wheelchair accessible vehicles for use at medical centers in Colorado, Florida and Tennessee. The MV-1 was added to the General Services Administration Schedule last year. “While there are nearly 1,600 MV-1s in city and county transit fleets across the country, the VA purchase marks the entry of the MV-1 to the federal fleet,” the company stated in a press release. The American-made MV-1comes standard with a built-in side-entry ramp, ample headroom and seating for up to five.

    Short takes: ECS Billing, PharMerica, HaysMed

    ECS Billing & Consulting North now offers home health and hospice billing and consulting services. It offers complete revenue cycle management for all payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers. ECS also works with companies to enhance operational efficiencies…PharMerica Corp., a national provider of institutional pharmacy, specialty infusion and hospital pharmacy management services, has announced that David Froesel, executive vice president, CFO and treasurer, intends to retire. He will continue as CFO through the end of September to ensure a seamless transition. PharMerica has engaged a nationally recognized executive search firm to help identify a successor for Froesel…HaysMed Orthopedic Institute has been reaccredited as an accredited DME facility by the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation.

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    HME News Staff

    NEW YORK – The HME industry continues to make its mark on Inc. Magazine's 35th annual 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies in the country.

    At No. 3395, Cape Medical Supply in Sandwich, Mass. has been named to the Inc. 5000 list for the seventh year.

    “Making this list once is an honor, but making it seven times is incredible,” said Gary Sheehan, president and CEO, in a release. “It is a true team effort proving that our strategy is solid, and that our team’s incredible execution is winning us market share and fueling sustainable growth.”

    Over the last three years, Cape Medical Supply has scaled its sleep therapy business, expanding its reach in Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Central Massachusetts. The result: 96% revenue growth.

    This year also marks Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment’s 5th time on the list. The Matthews, N.C.-based company, at No. 4454, successfully took on more than 10,000 new orders last year and has more than doubled its staff over the past five years.

    Inc. also ranked Ashville, N.C.-based Aeroflow Healthcare for the second year in a row. Coming in at No. 3100, Aeroflow Healthcare is on track to have a record year in sales and has added 40 jobs so far this year. In 2015, Aeroflow reported revenues of $51 million.

    Home Oxygen Company, a respiratory services provider in Modesto, Calif., took No. 3343.

    “Since our doors opened, we have enjoyed double-digit growth year-over-year with high patient satisfaction levels,” said Andrea Ewert, CEO, in a release.


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    Tracy Orzel

    RENO, Nev. – Doug Bennett, owner of Bennett Medical Services, is leading a grueling process to exempt DME from Nevada’s state sales tax.

    Bennett leads the “Alliance to Stop Taxes on the Sick & Dying,” a coalition of HME providers that gathered more than 100,000 signatures to put the issue to a vote in November.

    Getting to this point has been a process, Bennett says.

    After initially using volunteers and staff to gather signatures at shopping centers and trade shows, the coalition then put up PAC money to hire signature gatherers through temp agencies and paid them based on the number of verifiable signatures they collected.

    To get the issue on the ballot in November, the coalition had to collect 10% of the total votes cast in the most recent general election, equally from each of the state’s four congressional districts.

    “Near the end, we started going door to door, because we knew that when we knocked on the door, there was a registered voter inside,” said Bennett.

    The process took nine months. Of the 100,000 signatures collected, 77,000 were considered verifiable, 20,000 more than required.

    “We surveyed our signature gatherers and asked, ‘Of those that understood what this was about, how many of them said, ‘No?’” he said. “And uniformly, the answer was less than 1%.” 

    Of course, the coalition’s not done. The next step is getting people to vote. While the coalition is still developing its campaign strategy, it’s already laid the foundation with the petition, as well TV and radio        appearances.

    However, even if the majority of voters vote “Yes on Question 4,” the law stipulates that the measure must pass two election cycles for it to go into effect, says Julia Humphrey, operations manager at Reno, Nev.-based Accellence Home Medical.

    “Unless the state legislature decides that the public has voted and they pass it into law,” she said. hme

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    Tracy Orzel

    SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. – New York provider Dan DeSimone says he needs more details before he chooses TwinMed for incontinence products.

    In June, TwinMed was awarded a $225 million preferred vendor contract for incontinence supplies for Medicaid beneficiaries in New York. Under the five-year contract, TwinMed has established minimum quality standards for adult and youth size diapers, and reduced costs, while maintaining the existing provider network, the state says.

    “My approach is, wait until the dust settles,” said DeSimone, president and CEO of Continued Care in Long Island, N.Y. “I’m going to see where it goes, who starts using them, get some feedback and then decide how to approach it.”

    While states like Illinois have issued RFPs to select a single supplier, New York providers will still be able to purchase incontinence products from other vendors as long as the products provided meet the established minimum quality standards. 

    For those who do decide to go with TwinMed, they can be sure they’re using a product that’s been approved by the state, says CEO Kerry Weems.

    “They won’t be subject to pre- or post-payment audits,” he said. “So by using our products, you’ll know those products will be exempt from state audits.”

    Another benefit with TwinMed: Providers don’t have to maintain records, says Meyer Greenbaum, executive vice president of business development.

    “Anybody that does not order from TwinMed has to maintain documentation on-site for a six-year period that will need to be produced when requested by the NY Department of Health or the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General,” he said.

    Even if TwinMed offers better pricing, one New York provider says, it wouldn’t be “feasible” to buy from them. 

    “We do not warehouse any incontinence inventory,” they said. “We drop ship directly from the supplier. Also, typically we are shipping enterals, urologicals or other medical supplies along with the incontinence supplies.”

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    ‘We cannot survive’ wrote one poll respondent
    Liz Beaulieu

    YARMOUTH, Maine – Third-party payers have wasted no time applying recently reduced Medicare pricing, respondents to the latest HME Newspoll say.

    Eighty-one percent of respondents say new Medicare pricing that went into effect this year—in rural areas on Jan. 1 and July 1, and in Round 2 re-compete areas on July 1—has already impacted pricing from payers like United Healthcare, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    “Once Medicare drops pricing, everyone else wants to follow suit,” wrote Janet Brown of Anderson Drugs & Home Care in Etowah, Tenn. “They figure if we can do it with Medicare, we will accept it across the board. We cannot survive.”

    Forty-seven percent of respondents say the new pricing has also impacted Medicaid pricing in their state. Thirty-five percent say Medicaid hasn’t applied the pricing yet, but it will eventually.

    Like with Medicaid, the reimbursement that HME providers receive from third-party payers is often based on a percentage of Medicare reimbursement. That means reimbursement from third-party payers can actually be below reimbursement from Medicare.

    “It has decimated our reimbursement from Humana, Wellcare, Prospect Medical and other payers,” wrote Rene Correa of Bexar Care Home Medical in San Antonio. “We are being reimbursed less than the Medicare competitive bid rates and are contemplating picking up equipment and focusing on retail sales.”

    A number of respondents said the pricing changes have forced them to drop contracts with third-party payers. Others are scrambling to try and renegotiate their contracts, with little luck.

    “In July, we saw reductions in allowables from our two biggest third-party payers,” wrote Beau Barrett of Access Respiratory Homecare in New Orleans. “In the worst case, most CPAP supplies and some RADs are below acquisition cost at 35% below the current Medicare SPAs. Payers do not seem willing to entertain any discussion about this.”

    John Wood wrote that he’s in the same boat.

    “We have a contract that is based on 80% of the Medicare allowable,” said Wood of Capital Medical in Tallahassee, Fla. “When the Medicare rate dropped below our cost of products for TENS, we stopped accepting assignment on these codes. Our commercial contract immediately dropped their payment for these codes, as well. We are trying to negotiate with them to carve out these codes to something where we can make money, but nothing yet. We have suspended providing these products to commercial members.”

    If providers are fortunate enough to be working with third-party payers that haven’t yet adopted the new Medicare pricing, 16% of respondents say their luck won’t last.

    “Anthem immediately applied the new allowables in California, so that a contracted supplier will lose money on every cushion or back on manual wheelchairs and also on all scooters or Group 2 PMDs,” wrote Stan Arledge of Access Medical in Anaheim, Calif. “Soon all of them will do so.” 

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    HME News Staff

    PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive Medical has sent a letter to its customers in response to reports that private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is close to buying the company.

    Drive Medical, which currently calls private equity firm Ferrer, Freeman & Co. a minority stockholder, seeks additional equity capital to continue its growth strategy, the Aug. 12 letter states.

    “Given the company’s position within the healthcare industry, its prospects, multiple channels of growth and acquisition strategy, the management team has decided to pursue a partnership with a larger private equity firm to replace Ferrer Freeman,” the letter states.

    New York-based CD&R is in talks to buy Drive Medical for $750 million, Reuters reported on Aug. 10. As part of the deal, top execs at Drive Medical would join CD&R as minority investors, according to the news agency.

    In its letter, Drive Medical says the change in ownership will have no effect on customers, its associates or the business in general, “except to make the company stronger for the future.”

    “The entire management team will continue to lead the organization and provide value to our customers,” it states. “It is business as usual.”

    F&P sues ResMed…

    AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has filed patent infringement proceedings against ResMed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. F&P seeks judgment that ResMed’s AirSense 10 and AirCurve10 range of flow generator products, its ClimateLineAir heated air tubing and its Swift LT and FX masks infringe patents that it holds. “Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has invested substantial resources in the research and development of its technologies over the past 45 years,” said Lewis Gradon, managing director and CEO. “The company has protected that investment through the development of a significant portfolio of more than 1,400 issued and pending patents, and takes infringement of its intellectual property rights very seriously.” F&P seeks all available remedies, including damages and injunctive relief. ResMed has also been embroiled in patent infringement proceedings with 3B Medical and BMC Medical.

    …ResMed fires back

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has filed patent infringement actions against Fisher & Paykel Healthcare in U.S., German and New Zealand courts, as well as the U.S. International Trade Commission. ResMed seeks an injunction banning import of Fisher & Paykel’s Simplus full face mask, Eson nasal mask and Eson 2 nasal mask, asserting they infringe on ResMed's patents relating to modular mask systems, headgear design and cushion design. Earlier this week, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare filed patent infringement proceedings against ResMed, seeking judgment that ResMed’s AirSense 10 and AirCurve10 range of flow generator products, its ClimateLineAir heated air tubing and its Swift LT and FX masks infringe patents that it holds. ResMed has also asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diegoto declare that it does not infringe those patents.

    Inc. list recognizes HME

    NEW YORK – The HME industry continues to make its mark on Inc. Magazines 35th annual 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies in the country.

    At No. 3395, Cape Medical Supply in Sandwich, Mass. has been named to the Inc. 5000 list for the seventh year.

    “Making this list once is an honor, but making it seven times is incredible,” said Gary Sheehan, president and CEO, in a release. “It is a true team effort proving that our strategy is solid, and that our team’s incredible execution is winning us market share and fueling sustainable growth.”

    Over the last three years, Cape Medical Supply has scaled its sleep therapy business, expanding its reach in Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Central Massachusetts. The result: 96% revenue growth.

    This year also marks Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment’s 5th time on the list. The Matthews, N.C.-based company, at No. 4454, successfully took on more than 10,000 new orders last year and has more than doubled its staff over the past five years.

    Inc. also ranked Ashville, N.C.-based Aeroflow Healthcare for the second year in a row. Coming in at No. 3100, Aeroflow Healthcare is on track to have a record year in sales and has added 40 jobs so far this year. In 2015, Aeroflow reported revenues of $51 million.

    Home Oxygen Company, a respiratory services provider in Modesto, Calif., took No. 3343.

    “Since our doors opened, we have enjoyed double-digit growth year-over-year with high patient satisfaction levels,” said Andrea Ewert, CEO, in a release.

    Rotech notified of security breach…

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Rotech Healthcare may have experienced a security breach that could potentially affect the personal health information of 957 individuals. The provider received a police report on June 13 that paper patient records had been recovered from an unauthorized individual, according to news reports. The records include names, Social Security numbers, patient numbers, addresses and more. Rotech says it did not receive copies of the stolen information until July 11, when the U.S. Secret Service provided it to them, according to reports. Rotech says it is reviewing its current policies and procedures to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

    …hears back from GAO about VA contract

    ORLANDO, Fla. – The Government Accountability Office has backed Rotech Healthcare in its dispute with the Veterans Affairs over a contract for DME that it awarded to Lincare. The GAO issued a decision on Aug. 17 sustaining Rotech’s bid protest. Rotech has argued the VA “improperly evaluated proposals, made an improper source selection decision and held unequal discussions” as part of the bid process. The GAO recommends that the VA request revised price proposals from Rotech and Lincare, reevaluate and document the evaluation of Lincare’s past performance proposal, and make a new source selection decision consistent with this decision. It also recommends the VA reimburse Rotech for the costs of filing and pursuing its protest.

    Domtar acquires HDIS

    FORT MILL, S.C. – Domtar Corporation has agreed to acquire direct-to-consumer supplier Home Delivery Incontinent Supplies, it announced Aug. 18. The deal, expected to close by the end of the year, is worth $45 million with a possible earn-out payment of up to $10 million. The Olivette, Mo.-based HDIS was founded in 1986. It has 240 employees and total revenues of approximately $65 million. Domtar is a provider of fiber-based products, including communication, specialty and packaging papers, market pulp and absorbent hygiene products. Its annual sales are approximately $5.3 billion. “Direct-to-consumer engagement and interaction is growing, and provides unique consumer and customer insights that are critical to continuously improve the value of our offering,” said Michael Fagan, president, Domtar Personal Care division. 

    Linde, Praxair explore megamerger

    CLEARWATER, Fla. – Linde, which owns Lincare and as of late last year American HomePatient, is in talks for a megamerger with Praxair, according to Bloomberg. The all-stock deal, which could be valued at more than $30 billion, may be reached as early as the coming weeks, the news agency reported Aug. 15. Linde and Praxair confirmed news reports but said in separate statements that preliminary discussions may not lead to a transaction, according to Bloomberg. Praxair sold its U.S. homecare business to Apria Healthcare in 2011.

    ResMed launches myAir app

    SAN DIEGO – iPhone users can now download ResMed’s myAir, a program for CPAP users to track their own sleep apnea treatment, from the Apple App Store. “We have seen increased rates of patient engagement and satisfaction by integrating myAir into their treatment plans,” said Raj Sodhi, ResMed president of Healthcare Informatics. “Now it’s even easier for patients to engage with their therapy thanks to the added convenience of an iPhone app.” Approximately 900 patients a day sign up for the web version of the program, which shows how long users slept on CPAP, how many apneas they had per hour and how well their CPAP mask fits. myAir also provides personalized tips for greater comfort and sleep, and awards badges when users reach milestones in their therapy.

    Alpha Respiratory, Lincare hit with overtime lawsuit

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Non-exempt hourly employees working in California for Alpha Respiratory and Lincare can proceed with their lawsuit as a class action, according to an Aug. 10 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Honorable Judge Morrison England has ruled that non-exempt employees who worked for these companies in California since Oct. 21, 2010, can now seek back overtime wages and premiums for missed meal breaks. The lawsuit, originally filed by Riverside Labor Law Lawyers at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik in October 2014, alleges that the companies failed to pay their hourly employees in California overtime wages, failed to provide the legally mandated meal and rest breaks, and failed to provide accurate wage statements required by state law. In the coming months, all individuals who are part of the class action will be notified of their rights.

    AvaCare announces veteran initiative

    LAKEWOOD, N.J. – AvaCare Medical, an online medical supply store, has launched its AvaCare Medical Veterans Initiative. The program offers veterans a 10% discount on any purchase from AvaCare Medical. The program also encourages veterans to share their stories to enter a tri-annual drawing for a $250 gift card. "There are veterans who need medical supplies, and since we're in that industry, we wanted to utilize this opportunity to help the people who helped us," said CEO Steven Zeldes, in a release.

    Report: Untreated sleep apnea costs billions

    DARIEN, Ill. – Undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea costs nearly $150 billion annually in the United States, according a new report commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The estimated costs include $86.9 billion in lost productivity, $26.2 billion in motor vehicle accidents and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents, said Frost & Sullivan, which prepared the report. Undiagnosed OSA also costs $30 billion annually in increased healthcare utilization and medication costs related to co-morbidities like hypertension and diabetes, Frost & Sullivan estimates. OSA affects 29.4 million or 12% of the adult population. Diagnosis and treatment would result in $100 billion in savings, according to the report.

    Philips Respironics becomes exclusive provider

    MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Philips Respironics has snagged a contract with Persante Health Care to be its exclusive provider of full PSG and portable home sleep test diagnostic equipment. Per the three-year contract, Persante, a sleep management company for hospitals, physicians and patients, will purchase Philips Respironics’ Alice 6 LDxS Sleep System and its Sleepwareä G3 software. “Through this agreement with Persante, we’re able to deliver effective diagnostic solutions that can provide insight into the causes of disrupted sleep and guide therapy for patients,” said Mark D’Angelo, sleep business leader at Philips Respironics.

    Dexcom launches employee foundation

    SAN DIEGO – Medical device maker Dexcom has launched the “Dexcom One Step Ahead Foundation: A Dexcom Employees Foundation,” a non-profit organization that will award grants to diabetes advocacy organizations. “It is empowering to be part of an organization where employees are emotionally charged by the work they do day to day and who want to give more of themselves to help others,” said Claudia Graham, senior vice president of global access at Dexcom and chairwoman of the newly formed foundation, who has Type 1 diabetes. Grants will range from $10,000 to $50,000. Money for the grants will be raised through employee contributions and fundraising efforts. Dexcom makes continuous glucose monitoring tools.

    Stratice Healthcare, CMB Solutions collaborate

    CARMEL, Ind. – Stratice Healthcare has announced that CMB Solutions is integrating its eDMEplus e-ordering application. “CMB Solutions is more than pleased to integrate the eDMEplus application, providing our national footprint of customers a more direct electronic connection to their referring physicians,” said Asif Kidwai, CEO, in a press release. Stratice Healthcare, a healthcare IT company that provides electronic ordering technology solutions that connect HME providers with medical offices and hospitals systems, recently rolled out eDMEplus nationally to a “widespread base” of electronic health record systems. CMB Solutions, a provider of patient support and contact services to the HME industry, expects to complete the integration in late August.

    Association news: AZMESA, WAMES

    The Arizona Medical Equipment Suppliers Association will change its name to the Southwest Medical Equipment Suppliers Association on Sept. 1. Rose Schafhauser will remain executive director. AZMESA, which represents 44 companies, plans to seek new members from across the Southwest as SMESA, says Schafhauser. “We are seeing more and more interest and recognition here in the Southwest from providers who are still telling us they did not know we were here,” she said. AZMESA formed in 2001… Ann Barrett will retire as executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services at the end of September. Barrett has been with WAMES for nearly 25 years, said President Rick Adamich. “WAMES’s strength as a state association is largely attributed to Ann’s leadership over the years,” he said. “We wish her the best.” Rose Schafhauser will take over the reins as executive director.

    Short takes: AAHomecare, R82

    AAHomecare is now accepting nominations for its 2016 Homecare Champion Award. Who fits the bill? An AAHomecare member who has a longstanding record of service within the homecare community, and who embodies the spirit of caring and generosity that are the hallmarks of the profession, the association says. The recipient of the award will be honored at the Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade on Nov. 2. Send nominations to Sue Mariena at through Sept. 9…R82, which has combined brands with Convaid, has discontinued the Buffalo standing product. The companies encourage providers to check out the remaining portfolio of standing products, including the Caribou, Rabbit, Toucan and Gazelle PS.

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    Theresa Flaherty

    AUGUSTA, Maine – HME providers were ready for a fight with Medicaid officials over recent reimbursement cuts, but they were pleasantly surprised it turned out to be mostly unnecessary.

    At an Aug. 2 meeting with members of the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England, MaineCare officials said they planned to revert to the December 2015 fee schedule.

    “They told us they will change the rates, hopefully in the next few weeks, and they will adjust all claims retroactively going back to Jan. 1,” said Karyn Estrella, president and CEO of HOMES.

    So what happened? In Maine, Medicaid by law is not allowed to pay higher than Medicare rates, so when its billing and payment system automatically uploads fee schedules—something it does frequently—it “grabs” the lowest rates, says Estrella. When the fee schedules reflected two rounds of Medicare reimbursement cuts of 25% each, on Jan. 1 and July 1, it grabbed those, too.

    The change back to the December 2015 fee schedule isn’t effective immediately. Making the changes requires a rulemaking process that typically takes 120 days.

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    ‘We hope this will wake some people up,’ AAH’s Williard says
    Theresa Flaherty

    YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers were caught off-guard when Tricare, the healthcare program for uniformed services members and their families, began ratcheting down its reimbursement rates to below Medicare’s new reduced rates.

    “Tricare has typically been one of the better payers, so to see the rates fall as drastically as they have put a shock to us,” said Chris Smythe, vice president at Tycon Medical, which has locations in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va., which has a large military community. “They didn’t announce this and so far we aren’t able to get in touch with anyone at Tricare that knows anything.”

    Medicare reduced its rates on Jan. 1 and July 1 in non-bid areas, and also on July 1 in Round 2 bid areas.

    Depending on the region, providers report cuts from Tricare ranging from 10% to 55% below Medicare’s new reduced rates, according to AAHomecare.

    “We are in-network with Tricare and they are our largest revenue source,” said Kim Wonsick, vice president of compliance for J & B Medical in Niceville, Fla., in a recent HME NewPoll. “Our contract with them is such that we take a 20% reduction to the Medicare allowable, so our agreed allowable with them is only 80% of the Medicare allowable on most items. Clearly this began impacting us in January of this year. We are in talks with them now about how we can change to out-of-network provider status so we do not take this additional reduction.”

    Laura Williard, senior director of payer relations for AAHomecare,says her phone has been “blowing up” with reports of Tricare and other payers reducing their rates as of July 1. She has been reaching out to the regional offices that manage Tricare to educate them on the bidding program and the access problems such low rates create.

    “We have been talking with people about the trickle-down effect for some time,” she said. “This is a big hit for the military and we hope this will wake some people up.”

    Smythe said he’s already reached out to his congressmen to express his concerns.

    “If military servicemen and women cannot get equipment because there is no one to service them, that might get the public’s attention,” he said. “This is just wrong.” 

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    Tracy Orzel

    PHOENIX & WILD ROSE, Wis. – The Arizona Medical Equipment Suppliers Association is changing its name to Southwest Medical Equipment Suppliers Association to expand its support to HME providers.

    “The name change allows us to be more flexible with who we are and what we do,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director. “It gives folks who don’t have (an association) a place to belong.”

    Like providers in New Mexico, for example, who don’t have an association specifically to represent them.

    “Associate members would make sales calls to these folks and they’d say, ‘Who can we go to? We have questions and we have no where to go,’” said Schafhauser. “We would do everything within our power to get the information they were looking for.”

    While the name change is meant to convey inclusivity, it is not meant to replace existing associations, says Schafhauser.

    “We’re just representing Arizona,” she said. “We’re not officially adding any states—we’re just giving folks who don’t feel represented the opportunity to be represented.”

    Founded in 2001, AZMESA represents 44 companies and counting, says Schafhauser.

    “It’s about keeping our current members very satisfied to the point where they want to spread the word and bring on new folks,” she said.

    In addition to expanding AZMESA’s reach, Schafhauser has taken on the role of executive director at the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services. Under her leadership, the association hopes to ramp up advocacy efforts, says Rick Adamich, a WAMES board member and president of Waukesha, Wis.-based Oxygen One.

    “I think that’s where we’ve been strong, especially in recent years,” he said. “But we want to continue to improve on a national level by working in conjunction with AAHomecare and VGM, but also locally here in Wisconsin, and I think Rose is going to help us with that as an executive director.”

    One local issue in particular: getting an HME licensure law on the books. Last year, Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill allowing HME providers to obtain a license to dispense oxygen and bill insurance for it, but stakeholders were unsuccessful in getting a licensure law passed for all HME. 

    “We really want to get some sort of brick-and-mortar provision,” said Adamich. “That’s a high priority item for us legislatively at the state level.”

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    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has partnered with DCI Group, a public relations firm, to help move bid relief legislation forward. With DCI’s help, the association hopes to highlight the effect of the latest round of Medicare cuts on beneficiaries and providers in rural areas and deliver those messages directly to Congress. “The dozens of stories we’ve received thus far have greatly aided in these efforts,” AAHomecare stated in a release. “However, more stories will help us make an even stronger impression on Capitol Hill.” Funding for DCI was raised in part by the Stand Up for Homecare Campaign. Stories can be sent to Tilly Gambill at

    Pride Mobility updates MAP Policy

    EXETER, Pa. – Pride Mobility Products has updated its Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy to best support HME providers. “Our role is to help all of our providers succeed, and this updated MAP policy truly creates a level and ideally prosperous playing field for businesses of all sizes,” said Julie Piriano, vice president of clinical education/rehab industry affairs and compliance officer, in a press release. The goal of the MAP Policy is to promote fair competition across all distribution channels, maintain brand identity and value, allow smaller providers to compete with larger providers, diminish underpricing, and promote reasonable provider margins. Pride Mobility says it enforces its MAP Policy “unilaterally.”

    CommonWell allows patients to share health info

    BOSTON – The CommonWell Health Alliance, which counts Brightree as one of its members, will give patients access to their health data for the first time via the CommonWell network, it has announced. Patients will be able to self-enroll, self-link their health records wherever they receive care, and self-query their health on the network. They will also be able to give their providers instant access to their health data, which could help improve care and coordination. “Far too often individuals and the people who care for them are stymied by the onerous task of accessing their health data,” said Jitin Asnaani, executive director, in a release. “CommonWell and its members are dedicated to helping break down the barriers that make it difficult for patients to access that information.” CommonWell members MediPortal and Integrated Data Services have committed to launch these new services via their patient portal offerings by the end of the year.

    Genesis Medical Center opens HME biz

    ALEDO, Ill. – Genesis Medical Center will open Genesis Home Medical Equipment adjacent to a new pharmacy it plans to open Sept. 1. The new pharmacy, to be called Genesis FirstMed Pharmacy, combines three area pharmacies, Stuts Drug Store, Wagner Pharmacy and McKnight Pharmacy, the Quad-City Times reports. “I think as we look at health care across the country and the insurance companies growing larger through consolidation, it makes it tough on independent providers to continue to keep up with those changes and financially to maintain their presence,” said Ted Rogalski, Geneva administrator, told the newspaper. Previously, Genesis Medical Center assumed ownership of the Mercer County Nursing Home in 2013.

    Board offers sleep-screening guidelines for truck drivers

    WASHINGTON – The medical review board of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has offered guidelines on when to require testing for obstructive sleep apnea for truck drivers, according to Land Line Magazine. The board recommends mandatory screenings for truck drivers with a body mass index of 40 or above, with admitted fatigue or sleeping during wakeful periods; or for truck drivers who have been involved in a sleep-related motor vehicle accident. It also recommends mandatory screenings for truck drivers who have a BMI of 33 and who have at least three other risk factors (untreated hypertension; Type 2 diabetes; loud snoring; witness apneas; small airway/Mallampati score; neck size of 17 or more for males and 15.5 or more for females; age 42 or older; male or post-menopausal female; untreated hypothyroidism; stroke, coronary or artery disease). The board made the recommendations during a meeting to discuss an advance notice of proposed rulemaking by the FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration that seeks to require testing for truck drivers and rail workers.

    HME Retail Product Awards are back

    ATLANTA – Medtrade is calling for submissions for its Innovative Retail Product Awards. Like last year, judges will review products and advance eight to a final onsite judging round, hosted by Jim Greatorex, who works in business development for The VGM Group. “Providers who know of innovative new caretail products should contact the manufacturers and encourage them to enter the awards,” says Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade. “If manufacturers exhibit at Medtrade, they are eligible to compete. The publicity benefits manufacturers and informs our attendees.” Entries are due Sept 30. For rules, entry form and contract, click here.

    Ki Mobility ramps up sales with dedicated reps

    STEVENS POINT, Wis. – Ki Mobility has begun hiring dedicated sales reps, the manufacturer announced Aug. 23. “We want to offer more education on our products and services, respond quicker to our customers’ needs, and have greater availability to support product evaluation,” stated Douglas Munsey, president, in a letter to customers. Many of Ki Mobility’s independent sales reps will remain with the company, Munsey said. “We are deeply indebted to our current representatives for what they have given to us,” he said. “We would not be where we are today without their efforts.” Ki Mobility has been manufacturing seating and mobility products for 10 years.

    Inogen One G4 approved for flights

    GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen has received approval for its Inogen One G4 portable oxygen concentrator to be used onboard commercial aircrafts, it announced today. “The ability for the Inogen One G4 to be used during air travel will allow our oxygen users to reclaim their independence by traveling as they see fit with a portable oxygen concentrator weighing only 2.8 pounds,” said Raymond Huggenberger, CEO, in a press release. The manufacturer has also launched the product in its domestic business-to-business channel.

    Short takes: Reliable Respiratory, NRRTS

    Norwood, Mass.-based Reliable Respiratory now holds competitive bidding contracts for the respiratory product category in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, it announced recently…NRRTS has been approved as an accredited provider for the International Association for Continuing Education and Training. The IACET is a non-profit dedicated to continuing education and training.

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    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – When lawmakers return to work Sept. 6, industry stakeholders plan to bombard them with concrete examples of how Medicare reimbursement cuts are negatively impacting HME providers and beneficiaries.

    “We have to be very aggressive gathering these anecdotes, so we have a package of ammunition,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “For us to get something done in September, they’ve got to see a tangible impact.”

    Adding to that sense of urgency: While Congress is technically in session until Sept. 30, the reality is that most workweeks during the month are only Tuesday through Thursday, says Bachenheimer.

    After September, lawmakers return home until after the Nov. 8 election. At that point, all bets may be off.

    “If we lose the window in September, nobody knows if there will be a lame duck opportunity,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “The elections are a big distraction for lawmakers and the tone of this election cycle has been interesting to say the least. That makes dealing with leadership challenging, as well.”

    AAHomecare has been meeting with industry champions and key committee members throughout the summer. The goal: Create a package that both chambers will pass. Earlier this year, the Senate passed S. 2736, which would have delayed the July 1 cuts in non-bid areas for one year, but it failed to pass an amended version of H.R. 5210, which would have delayed the cuts for three months and ended up being the best bill with a chance at passing.

    The sticking point was—and remains—the pay-for, say stakeholders.

    “We are working with folks to find an alternative, and that determines the length of relief we can get,” said Bachenheimer.

    Ryan said he hears every day from providers that they are laying off staff or closing their doors. The association has hired DCI Group, a public relations firm, to amplify those stories. Ryan asks that all providers—not just AAHomecare members—share their stories.

    “We’re encouraged by the breadth of contacts DCI has in health care and the congressional reporting sector,” he said. “As these stories proliferate, we can gain some real traction.”

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    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Two consumer organizations have sent letters to lawmakers urging them to pass bills that would permanently protect complex rehab accessories from competitive bid pricing.

    The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations, and the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid Coalition (ITEM) sent letters to 10 senators and representatives, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

    “The disability community is grateful for this delay but urges Congress to pass the permanent solution contained in S. 2196/H.R. 3229 by year’s end—this will allow people with significant disabilities to have the access they need to CRT power and manual wheelchair accessories,” the CCD wrote. “From the consumer perspective, it is essential that both CRT power and manual accessories are exempted from competitive bidding.”

    A bill passed in 2015 delayed CMS’s plans to apply bid pricing to complex rehab accessories until Jan. 1, 2017.

    In addition to the letters, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who co-sponsored H.R. 3229, held a press conference at The Children's Center at United Cerebral Palsy of Long Island, a school for students with developmental disabilities, calling for Congress to pass legislation this year.

    “These positive developments come at an excellent time,” wrote Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, in an update.

    Congress will be back in session Tuesday, Sept. 6.

    Study casts doubt on impact of CPAP therapy on cardiovascular events

    WALTHAM, Mass. – CPAP therapy plus usual care, versus usual care alone, does not prevent cardiovascular events in patients with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea and established cardiovascular disease, according to a study published Aug. 28 on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine.

    “This study was not powered to provide definitive answers regarding the effects of CPAP on secondary cardiovascular end points, but there was no indication of a significant benefit with respect to any cause-specific cardiovascular outcome,” the study states.

    The Sleep Apnea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) study found that CPAP therapy significantly reduced snoring and daytime sleepiness, and improved health-related quality of life and mood, but it had “no significant effect” on so-called “primary composite end points.” These end points include death from cardiovascular causes, myocardial infarction, stroke, or hospitalization for unstable angina, heart failure or transient ischemic attack.

    As part of the study, researchers randomly assigned 2,717 eligible adults between 45 and 75 years of age who had moderate-to-severe sleep apnea and coronary or cerebrovascular disease to receive CPAP therapy plus usual care, or usual care alone. After a mean follow-up of 3.7 years, they found an end-point event had occurred in 229 patients in the CPAP group vs. 207 in the usual care group.

    The study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and others, sought to determine whether or not CPAP therapy could be a useful additional treatment for the prevention of these events.

    “Observational clinical studies have shown that the use of CPAP is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular complications and of death from cardiovascular causes, especially among patients who are adherent to treatment,” the report states. “Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition among patients with cardiovascular disease, affecting 40% to 60% of such patients.”

    CMS publishes further guidance on CPAP accessories

    WASHINGTON – CMS recently published change request 9741, providing further guidance to the DME MACs on medical reviews of claims for replacement accessories for beneficiary-owned CPAP and RAD devices. CMS has clarified that medical necessity is assumed to be established when Medicare initially pays for the base DME item. This guidance only applies to base items that were paid by Medicare for the entire 13 months. For replacement accessories claims, contractors will only review the continued medical need requirement for the base item, and the medical necessity of the accessory replacement (or furnishing of new accessories) and whether it is essential in using the base item. 

    Handicare buys Prism Medical

    KISTA, Sweden – Handicare has acquired Prism Medical, a patient handling company located in Toronto and St. Louis. Prism, which employs 250, expects to have revenues of about $50 million in 2016. “The new combined product portfolio and sales network will put Handicare in a top tier position in North America,” the company stated in a press release. The combined product portfolio will be available to both Handicare and Prism customers later in 2016. Prism manufactures a broad range of products, including ceiling lifts, portable ceiling lifts, floor lifts, and other ancillary patient handling products. Charley Wallace will assume the role of president and CEO of Handicare North America and Ross Scavuzzo will continue as president of Handicare Canada.

    Aeroflow adds 50 employees

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has added 50 employees this year, 22 of them in its breastpumps department. “The department currently shows a 110% growth percentage from January,” the provider stated in an Aug. 29 press release. Aeroflow has also boosted its billing department with 12 employees this year, representing a 34% growth rate. The provider has added nine and five employees to its customer service and marketing departments, respectively. “We have added truly amazing talent to our team, which has allowed us to exceed sales projections and focus on our core values as an organization,” said Katie Combs, chief culture officer, in the release. Aeroflow, recently named to the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for the second year in a row, has locations sprawling across the Southeast.

    Cryogenic Solutions buys Inventory Solutions

    INDIANAPOLIS – Cryogenic Solutions, a factory authorized service center, has acquired New York-based Inventory Solutions, a national supplier of refurbished respiratory products. Founded in 2000, Inventory Solutions offers ventilators, apnea monitors, self-fill systems, concentrators, pulse oximeters, phototherapy lights, portables and cylinders. “With this acquisition, Cryogenics Solutions gains a knowledgeable team of employees that are committed to providing the HME industry with a full spectrum of high quality products and services,” said Todd Durham, president and CEO of Cryogenic Solutions, in a release. Inventory Solutions also purchases excess inventory from HME dealers, wholesalers and manufacturers and ships from 14 repair facilities around the U.S.

    Apria steps up for flood victims…

    LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare has conducted around-the-clock outreach to more than 700 patients with potentially damaged respiratory equipment due to this month’s flooding in Louisiana. “Several of our employees’ homes have also been damaged, but they all continue to come to work and lend a hand to displaced patients in need,” said Quiana Cruz, a branch manager in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, in an Aug. 29 press release. Apria has brought respiratory equipment to 35 displaced patients staying in shelters. It plans to deliver another 100 pieces of equipment. Additionally, the provider has created a GoFundMe page for those interested in making donations to provide direct emergency assistance for employees in the area. It has promised to match donations up to a total of $50,000.

    …VGM assists Red Cross in Louisiana

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Homelink has used its network of HME providers and manufacturer partners to coordinate the delivery of 208 wheelchairs, first aid kits to accommodate 6,500 people and 130 service bells to shelters in areas affected by flooding in southern Louisiana. Homelink was asked by the American Red Cross to coordinate medical supplies to aid displaced flood victims. “Once we received the call from the Red Cross, our team dedicated to crisis situations began sourcing the requested products,” said Jason Sadler, vice president of operations. “Within 48 hours, the request was fulfilled, which included expediting overnight shipping on products that could not be sourced through local providers.” The Louisiana floods mark the third time in four years that the Red Cross has called on Homelink to assist during a crisis situation in the U.S.

    Caire implements MAP policy

    BALL GROUND, Ga. – Caire, a Chart Industries Company, has implemented a Minimum Advertised Price Policy for all distributors, retailers and resellers who advertise or sell its products over the Internet. “The MAP Policy was adopted to protect customers’ confidence in the quality of our products,” stated George Coppola, director of marketing. “This policy is designed to encourage and support resellers who provide customers with strong pre- and post-sales service and support. Advertising and sales practices that promote our products primarily on the basis of price is harmful to our brand and reputation.” The policy goes into effect Sept. 1.

    ResMed documents family’s travel with vents

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has produced a documentary film featuring a family that decides to continue to travel and enjoy the outdoors despite having two children living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). “Changing Lives with Every Breath: The Beaulieu Family” features two brothers, Ross, 20, and Finn, 16, who have a fatal genetic neuromuscular disease that weakens the body’s muscles over time, including those that support heart and lung function. Thanks to the family’s resolve and with the aid of ResMed’s portable ventilators, the brothers have toured 18 countries in 10 years. “For us, every day, every moment, every breath is priceless, and we’ll cherish it for as long as we can,” said their mother, Michelle Beaulieu.

    Philips sponsors Nimoy documentary on COPD

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Royal Philips is sponsoring a documentary that seeks to educate viewers about COPD through Leonard Nimoy’s personal story of courage. “COPD: Highly Illogical – Remembering Leonard Nimoy” will also provide the latest information about treatments for the chronic disease. “Our aim in sponsoring this film is to raise awareness of the disease and its consequences if left undiagnosed or untreated,” said Eli Diacopoulos, Home Respiratory Care Business Leader for Philips. Nimoy’s decade-long struggle with COPD wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2013, when it was past the point of effective treatment. Nimoy, who died in February of last year, is best known for his role as Mr. Spock in Star Trek. The documentary is being produced by Nimoy’s daughter, Julie Nimoy, and her husband, David Knight of Health Point Productions.

    ResMed recalls vents in Australia

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed, in consultation with the Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration, has initiated a product correction recall in that country for its Astral 100 and Astral 150 ventilators due to an internal battery issue. Starting in September, local service providers will be contacting patients to schedule replacement of affected batteries, either at the next normal routine maintenance service or at a separate appointment. All ventilators should have their internal batteries replaced by no later than Dec. 1. As of Aug. 17, ResMed had not received any reports of adverse events as a result of this issue.

    FODAC receives accreditation, seeks partnerships

    STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – The Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), a nonprofit that has provided more than $10 million in DME and supplies to people with injuries and disabilities, has received accreditation as a DME provider from the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA). FODAC believes accreditation will pave the way for it to partner with other healthcare providers. “We are seeing more growth in hospital partnerships, and a new contract with Georgia’s Department of Aging Services has enabled us to begin delivering DME to area agencies on aging across the state,” said Chris Brand, CEO and president, in a press release.

    Short takes: Mediware, Sigvaris, Medline

    Cooley Medical has purchased Mediware’s CareTend software for its home infusion line of business. The software will allow the provider to improve inventory management, workflow and data reporting. Cooley Medical, which has locations in Kentucky and Virginia, first licensed Mediware software 25 years ago…Sigvaris has completed its acquisition of BiaCare in Holland, Mich. BiaCare is best known for its medical compression product lines Chipsleeve and Compreflex…Medline has purchased 51 acres of land for a new distribution center in Auburndale, Fla. The planned 830,000-square-foot facility is expected to bring 100 new jobs to the city. Construction will begin this fall.

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    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS has announced the new single payment amounts for Round 1 2017 and has begun sending contract offers.

    CMS said a total of 1,523 contract offers will be extended to 198 bidders for Round 1 2017. Small suppliers make up 46% of the suppliers that will be offered contracts.

    The seven product categories included in the Round 1 2017 are: enteral nutrients and equipment; general home equipment; nebulizers; negative pressure wound therapy pumps; respiratory equipment; standard mobility equipment; and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation devices.

    Competitive bidding contracts and pricing have been in place in Round 1 areas since Jan. 1, 2011, and since July 1, 2013, in Round 2 areas. The national mail-order program for diabetes testing supplies was first implemented on July 1, 2013, with recompeted contracts and pricing being in place since July 1, 2016.

    CMS originally announced plans for Round 1 2017 in April 2015. Stakeholders expressed concerns at the time that Medicare hadn’t made any significant improvements to the program.

    Round 1 2017 contracts will become effective on Jan. 1, 2017, and run through Dec. 31, 2018 at which point CMS will be implementing a consolidated round of competition to include all Round 1, Round 2, and national mail-order competitive bidding areas.

    For single payment amounts, go here.

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    HME News Staff

    NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Healthcare Supply, a national contract supplier for mail-order diabetes supplies, and two of its executives have agreed to pay the government more than $12.2 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act.

    The settlement resolves allegations that U.S. Healthcare Supply and Oxford Diabetic Supply, both based in Milford, N.J., set up and controlled a fictitious entity to make unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries to sell them DME. The companies then allegedly submitted claims for the equipment to Medicare in violation of the Medicare Anti-Solicitation statute.

    “Cold-calling people to sell them expensive medical equipment is prohibited for a reason: unsuspecting patients shouldn’t be coerced into making medical decisions about devices and equipment—which they may not even need—on the basis of a sales pitch,” said Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney of the District of New Jersey, in a release.

    U.S. Healthcare Supply has agreed to pay $5 million plus interest; Jon Letko, its owner and president, has agreed to pay $1 million plus interest. John Letko’s brother, Edward Letko, owner and president of Oxford Diabetic Supply, has agreed to pay $6 million plus interest.

    This isn’t the first time CMS has run into trouble with diabetes suppliers. Arriva, the largest of only nine providers to be awarded mail-order diabetes contracts in the latest round of competitive bidding, was rumored to have its provider number revoked by the National Supplier Clearinghouse, underscoring the dangers of having so few providers covering such a large market. On July 21, the company said the matter had been take care of.


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