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    10/07/2016
    Tracy Orzel

    YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers in Round 1 areas are bracing themselves for an additional Medicare reimbursement cut of, on average, 5.2% on Jan. 1.

    For a lot of providers, the hardest part is explaining to patients why they can no longer service them, says Tammy Crim, general manager at Medical Comfort Systems in Charlotte, N.C., which won but declined a contract for general DME. 

    “They don’t understand what’s going on,” she said. “When someone has been getting CPAP supplies from us forever and we have to tell them in January that we can’t supply their supplies anymore, they don’t understand.”

    Products with the steepest cuts in reimbursement include TENS devices with a 45.1% decrease and CPAP devices with an 18.5% decrease.

    As providers in Round 1 areas contend with tighter margins, some are asking patients to pick up wheelchairs from their locations to cut down delivery costs.

    “We’re seeing that already and that’s before these new rates even hit,” said Andrew Trammell, vice president and CFO of Matthews, N.C.-based Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment, which accepted six contracts for mobility, general DME and negative pressure wound pressure.

    When you add audits to the mix, it’s even more of a challenge to eek out a margin, says Chris Rice, CEO of Diamond Respiratory in Riverside, Calif., which accepted contracts in all categories for Round 1 2017 and previously accepted numerous contracts in the Round 1 re-compete.

    “We had to really hone in and drill down on the documentation requirements to make sure we get paid and keep the money,” he said.

    That’s not to say that there couldn’t be a light at the end of the tunnel. Craig Rae, president of Penrod Medical Equipment in Salisbury, N.C., which accepted Round 1 2017 contracts for mobility and general DME, notes that for high-volume items, like some manual wheelchairs, the rates in his area are actually 20% to 30% higher than they were for the Round 2 re-compete.

    “I think a lot a people are missing is that,” he said. “I look at as a sign that there’s finally enough responsible people out there who aren’t offering lowball bids.”


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    10/07/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Two senators recently introduced a bill that seeks to improve the transparency and accountability of the local coverage determination (LCD) process performed by the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs).

    The Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act of 2016 would: require open and public meetings with the MACs that are on the record; require disclosure by the MACs of the rationale for an LCD and the evidence for that decision at the beginning of the process; provide stakeholders with a meaningful reconsideration process for an LCD; and prohibit the MACs from adopting an LCD from another jurisdiction without first conducting its own independent evaluation.

    “Unfortunately, the LCD process MACs use is flawed, lacks transparency and does not provide meaningful opportunity for stakeholder input or appeals,” said Scott Whitaker, president and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), in a statement. “Because of these shortcomings, American patients are at risk for being denied access to needed technologies and services.”

    AdvaMed is a trade association representing medical device manufacturers. It has nearly 300 member companies, including Cardinal Health, Coloplast, ConvaTec, DJO, Hill-Rom and Philips Health Care.

    Sens. Thomas Carper, D-Del., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced the bill in late September.

    A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in July.

    Apria provides notice of security breach

    LAKE FOREST, Calif. – An email account of an employee at Apria Healthcare that contains personal information of certain individuals has been subject to unauthorized access, the national provider announced Oct. 4.

    The information potentially subject to unauthorized access includes a combination of name, date of birth, patient identification number, Social Security number, diagnosis information, doctor’s name, type of medical equipment requested, treatment location, medical record number, driver’s license or state identification number and/or health insurance information, according to a statement.

    “Letters to those impacted by the incident are being mailed,” Apria said. “These letters include an explanation of the incident, an offer of credit monitoring and identity restoration services and information about additional ways impacted individuals can protect themselves.”

    Apria has also established a confidential call center staffed with professionals to answer questions related to the breach. To reach the center, call 855-303-6661.

    Apria discovered that the email account of an employee was subject to unauthorized access on Aug. 5, and immediately launched an internal investigation and retained third-party forensic experts. The forensic experts determined that the email account contained the personal information of certain individuals.

    Earlier this year, Rotech Healthcare, another national provider, experienced a potential security breach involving personal information of 957 individuals.

    CareCentrix builds bridge to home

    HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has launched a cloud-based platform that connects patients to the providers and care they need when they’re discharged from the hospital. 

    CareCentrix developed HomeBridge to provide a complete view of a patient’s data, to track clinical events over time and to enhance collaboration, the company says in a press release.

    “Patients deserve better care coordination,” said John Driscoll, CEO of CareCentrix. “Too often healthcare providers play their position, but do not have the tools to work as a team to help patients transition home.”

    CareCentrix connects patients with care at home through a national network of more than 8,000 credentialed provider locations. It provides support and coordination for home health, DME, home infusion, sleep management and care management services.

    With HomeBridge, these providers will be able to see a daily record of information like blood pressure and heart rate, and intervene when needed, CareCentrix says.

    “We align patients with the right providers and support those providers to work as a team to guide the path home and then continue to provide patients the support they need,” Driscoll said.

    CareCentrix built HomeBridge on Salesforce Health Cloud.

    “In this digital era, healthcare providers need to engage their patients in new ways to not only create strong and meaningful relationships, but also to improve quality and lower costs,” said Joshua Newman, M.D., chief medical officer and general manager of Salesforce Healthcare and Life Sciences.

    CareCentrix expects HomeBridge to produce “an active ecosystem of users, collaborators and integrations.”

    Rep. Price steps up support for HME industry

    WATERLOO, Iowa, and ATLANTA – Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., attended a healthcare forum hosted by The VGM Group this week and announced plans to attend the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Update at Medtrade in November.

    Price, who attended the forum with Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, talked with area executives, doctors and advocates representing various segments of health care about the challenges their businesses face.

    Price shared a story about how he was driven to run for office after realizing, while practicing medicine, that there were more people in his office trying to make sure every rule was followed and every dollar was tracked down, than people caring for patients.

    “There has got to be a better way of doing health care,” he said at the forum.

    A long-time champion of the HME industry, Price has proposed various bills to reform the competitive bidding program for HME. Last year, he proposed a bill to modify the national rollout of competitive bidding by providing a 30% increase in reimbursement over the bidding-derived prices and a four-year phase-in period.

    At Medtrade, Price will attend the Washington Legislative Update from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, AAHomecare has confirmed.

    Quality Medical takes total control

    LARGO, Fla. – Quality Medical has rolled out a suite of programs called “Total Equipment Control (TEC)” that allows HME providers to outsource supply chain, warehousing, transportation, financing, engineering, and repair and service. The central element to TEC is a cloud-based inventory management application solution that’s integrated with warehousing, transportation and third-party preventative maintenance and repair services.

    “Quality Medical’s new high-value asset management service helps HME companies streamline operations and reduce costs, while improving equipment availability for patient,” said Jim Worrell, senior vice president of corporate development. “Recent reductions in reimbursement rates necessitate efficiency improvements and a focus on improving core activities, while outsourcing all non-core functions.”

    Quality Medical offers providers a low monthly fee to cover all preventative maintenance and repairs over a 24-month period. To boost a provider’s cash flow, the company also offers to buy its high-value assets and rent them back to the provider.

    Quality Medical has been in business since 2003, serving as a national service center for respiratory equipment from companies like Philips Respironics, ResMed and Breas, but it has been under new ownership since last September. Its primary service center is in Largo, Fla., and it plans to open a second facility in North Georgia before the end of the year.

    O2 Concepts expands sales force

    NEWTOWN, Conn. – O2 Concepts has expanded its U.S. sales team with the hire of Ken Abriola as president of domestic sales and with the promotion of John Lewis to national sales director. Abriola, who will manage all U.S. sales, was most recently manager of Fukuda Denshi’s U.S. sales and marketing. He has also held positions with Drager, Toshiba and Spacelabs. Lewis, who will focus on large accounts and national growth strategies, was previously the southeast regional manager for O2 Concepts.

    AAH renames Homecare Champion Award after Van Miller

    ATLANTA – AAHomecare has renamed its Homecare Champion Award theVan Miller Homecare Champion Award. “Van had the foresight and drive to create more than just his own successful company,” said Tom Ryan, president of AAHomecare. “Instead, he helped build hundreds of flourishing companies that are essential lifelines to patients all over the county.” 

As past CEO and founder, Miller turned The VGM Group into a strong presence on Capitol Hill and a force in mobilizing grassroots support on HME policy priorities. He also served on AAHomecare’s board of directors. The award, which is given for outstanding HME service, will be presented at AAHomecare’s Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade.

    Aeroflow adds office in Charlotte

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare is relocating its Gastonia, N.C., office to the more centralized Charlotte area to better service patients, the company announced Oct. 3. The new office is in the Airport 85 Business Park, easily accessible from Interstate 85 and the Bill Graham Parkway. “By opening a location closer to Charlotte, we hope to better service our patients and our community,” said CEO Casey Hite. “The new Charlotte office will be more convenient and provides more space for us to grow.” Aeroflow has its headquarters in Asheville and has 15 other locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Colorado and Mississippi.

    Domtar-HDIS a done deal

    FORT MILL, S.C. – Domtar Corp. has completed its acquisition of Home Delivery Incontinence Supplies (HDIS), the company announced Oct. 3. Domtar, a provider of fiber-based products, and HDIS, a direct-to-consumer provider of incontinence supplies, announced a definitive agreement on Aug. 18. The deal is worth $45 million with a possible earn-out payment of up to $10 million.

    SCA joins forces with Premier

    PHILADELPHIA – SCA has joined the supply network of Premier, the second largest healthcare Group Purchasing Organization in the United States. SCA will provide its Tork brand of Away-from-Home professional hygiene products to Premier’s network of about 3,600 member hospitals and 120,000 alternate site locations, including assisted living facilities. SCA has seen health care become one of the largest and most sustainable growth segments for the Away-from-Home products. “We are pleased to join forces with Premier to accelerate our presence within the healthcare industry,” said Joe Russo, vice president of sales and marketing for SCA’s Away-from-Home products. SCA also sells incontinence products under the TENA brand.

    Comfort Medical expands awareness of ‘Woody Packs’

    CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Comfort Medical, a mail-order provider of urological and ostomy supplies, and Wheel:Life, a social community for wheelchair users, have announced a new partnership with The Woody Foundation, a not-for-profit that raises funds for the recovery of those with paralysis. Together, they will work to expand awareness of a free nationwide program that provides “Woody Packs” to quadriplegics and other people with limited hand dexterity due to paralysis. The packs include ID holders with a retractable cord to attach to a wheelchair; grip tape; adaptive forks and spoons; a cup with a closeable top and long straws; a wheelchair cup holder; a wheelchair side bag; and a handi-zap (a ring with a stylus attached that can be used on different types of electronic and touch screen devices).

    Start-up home infusion provider licenses CareTend software

    LENEXA, Kan. – Crossroad Pharmacy has licensed Mediware Information Systems’ CareTend software for its home infusion service, Mediware has announced. Crossroad Pharmacy is a Wylie, Texas-based start-up home infusion pharmacy. “When searching for software, we needed a reliable system that would manage all of our business operations without accessing multiple applications,” said Samuel Evang, director of pharmacy and clinical services at Crossroad Pharmacy, in a release. “CareTend was the obvious choice for us so that we can easily manage our patients, inventory, deliveries, billing, and reporting all inside the same system.” Crossroad Pharmacy is scheduled to go live with the CareTend software in the next two weeks, with plans to add the CareTend specialty pharmacy software component in the near future.

    John Gallagher makes Hall of Fame

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group’s John Gallagher has been inducted into the University of Northern Iowa’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Hall of Fame. The first ROTC cadet at UNI back in 1980, Gallagher was also the first UNI ROTC alum inducted into the U.S. Army Cadet Command ROTC Hall of Fame. Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM, received a standing ovation at UNI’s Homecoming football game on Sept. 25, which was attended by more than 200 VGM associates and their families.


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    10/07/2016
    HME News Staff

    WATERLOO, Iowa, and ATLANTA – Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., attended a healthcare forum hosted by The VGM Group this week and announced plans to attend the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Update at Medtrade in November.

    Price, who attended the forum with Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, talked with area executives, doctors and advocates representing various segments of health care about the challenges their businesses face.

    Price shared a story about how he was driven to run for office after realizing, while practicing medicine, that there were more people in his office trying to make sure every rule was followed and every dollar was tracked down, than people caring for patients.

    “There has got to be a better way of doing health care,” he said at the forum.

    A long-time champion of the HME industry, Price has proposed various bills to reform the competitive bidding program for HME. Last year, he proposed a bill to modify the national rollout of competitive bidding by providing a 30% increase in reimbursement over the bidding-derived prices and a four-year phase-in period.

    At Medtrade, Price will attend the Washington Legislative Update from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, AAHomecare has confirmed.


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    10/14/2016
    Liz Beaulieu

    WASHINGTON – A bill recently introduced in the Senate that seeks to improve how the Medicare Administrative Contractors develop local coverage determinations is more of a message bill when it comes to HME, stakeholders say.

    The bill, which would, among other things, require the MACs to disclose their rationale for LCDs, is geared more toward other Part B services, not DMEPOS, AAHomecare’s Kim Brummett says.

    “There would be some (positive) ramification for DMEPOS,” said Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs. “It would force the MACs to be more transparent in LCD revisions and creation, which isn’t a bad thing.”

    The bill also seeks to: require open and public meetings with the MACs that are on record; provide stakeholders with a meaningful reconsideration process for LCDs; and prohibit the MACs from adopting LCDs from another jurisdiction without first conducting its own evaluations.

    The MACs already meet most of the provisions in the bill—in practice, says consultant Andrea Stark. A recent draft policy for surgical dressings, for example, lists the rationale behind the policy in a section titled, “Sources of Information and Basis for Decision,” which comprises 17 researched items.

    “The major (provisions), in my opinion, are for the most part already taking place on the DME side,” said Stark, a Medicare consultant and reimbursement specialist.

    One of the forces behind the bill, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, acknowledges its main goal is to formalize existing practices.

    “We’re concerned because the provisions are not statute, they’re just in the manuals,” said Chandra Branham, vice president of payment and health care delivery policy for AdvaMed. “This gives CMS the flexibility to tinker with the process.”

    That’s exactly what CMS did a few years ago, AdvaMed says, when it proposed to make changes to the LCD for diagnostic tests, changes that were never formalized.

    “In an attempt to streamline the LCD, they stripped out the protections in the current process,” Brantham said.

    The bill does go above and beyond existing practices in a few areas, including requiring CMS to appoint “a Medicare Reviews and Appeals Ombudsman to carry out specified duties with regard to LCDs.”

    “In the process of attempting to formalize (the LCD process), we have offered some additional requirements that aren’t in the manuals,” Brantham said.


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    10/14/2016
    HME News Staff

    EXETER, Pa. – Pride Mobility Products has begun manufacturing its lift chairs in a wholly owned, vertically integrated manufacturing plant in Pontotoc, Miss.

    Pride’s lift chairs are manufactured from start to finish at the plant, called Pride Mississippi.

    “We realize that the only way to achieve a win-win for all is to stay true to our 30-year roots in lift chairs and evolve our wholly owned, vertically integrated manufacturing here in the U.S. via Pride Mississippi,” said Joe O’Brien, senior vice president of global manufacturing at Pride Mobility Products.

    At the plant, which currently employs 100, Pride Mobility Products is using state-of-the-art computerized cutters to form each of the lift chair’s engineered inner structures, while master craftsmen add the springs, upholstery and lift mechanisms.

    Providers will begin receiving models built in the plant as of Nov. 7. The majority of lift chairs will be built there by Jan. 1, 2017.

    “We’re proud to demonstrate through three decades of manufacturing lift chairs that wholly ‘Made-in-the-USA’ creates superior product outcomes,” said Patrick Ramey, director of manufacturing at Pride Mississippi.

    Four sleep companies merge

    GREENVILLE, S.C. – SleepWorks and MedBridge Home Medical, both subsidiaries of MedBridge Healthcare, have completed their acquisition of Active Healthcare’s CPAP business and its IntegraSleep sleep lab business.

    “We are thrilled that our award-winning diagnostic sleep and CPAP supply program is going to a great home that values the tremendous goodwill we have built up in our community,” said Lisa Feierstein, president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Active Healthcare, which will now focus on asthma therapy and diabetes care.

    Active Healthcare’s CPAP business and IntegraSleep operated as the Sound Sleep Institute, an integrated, nationally recognized program providing sleep testing and CPAP equipment and supplies.

    SleepWorks, a provider of sleep laboratory management services, already performs more than 60,000 sleep studies annually across 21 states.

    “Both SleepWorks and IntegraSleep place great emphasis on a patient-centric approach to sleep medicine,” said Robert Miller, vice president of operations for SleepWorks. “Their focus, like ours, is to provide the best possible care for patients with sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Together, we will continue to provide innovative solutions and proactive care for people in the greater Raleigh market.

    MedBridge Home Medical, like Active Healthcare, offers treatment for sleep apnea and other respiratory conditions.

    In addition to SleepWorks and MedBridge Home Medical, Greenville, S.C.-based MedBridge Healthcare owns and operates sleep centers under the names Precision Diagnostic Services, Sleep Services of America, and Southeast Sleep; and HME companies under the names Sleep Easy Therapeutics, CPAP Solutions and Palmetto Oxygen.

    Invacare to SCI patients: ‘You’re not alone’

    ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has launched a new digital community for spinal cord injury patients called Roll Revolution.

    Roll Revolution will serve as a hub for resources and education on how to thrive and connect after an SCI. It will feature clinical, product and lifestyle tips and tricks, including first-hand advice from SCI patients.

    “There are more than 12,000 new spinal cord injuries each year,” said Maegen Hurtado, digital marketing manager at Invacare. “By providing resources and education to let patients know they are not alone and that yes they can be as active as they want, we hope to shorten the knowledge acquisition phase during an SCI.”

    Roll Revolution has a website, www.rollrev.com, that will publish two new blog posts each week, and has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages.

    Having a robust presence on social media was important, Hurtado says, because more than ever, that’s where people turn to share stories, get advice and interact with those like them.

    “Roll Revolution is meant to help SCI patients get social about their SCI early on and learn about all the opportunities available to them,” she said.

    Email updates from Roll Revolution are available at www.rollrev.com/join-now.

    Avid Rehab goes to market

    CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Avid, the new complex rehab division of Merits Health Products, has launched its first power wheelchair and has added two industry veterans to its team to promote the product.

    "The Vector couldn't have a more timely launch,” said Dave Jones, who has been named national rehab sales manager. “The market needs complex rehab products with the right features that are economically sound. With reimbursement cuts, manufacturers must develop products that meet the needs of end users but can be delivered cost competitively.”

    In addition to Jones, Merits has hired Mike Pennington as its eastern regional sales manager to build out Avid.

    Merits follows in the footsteps of Shoprider, which created a complex rehab division named ROVI Mobility Products in 2013 and began shipping its X3 power base with Motion Concepts power positioning in 2015.

    Avid is now accepting orders for the Vector. 

    Bronson at Home shifts business

    BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Bronson at Home will close its retail store for oxygen and medical supplies on Nov. 1, opting instead for home delivery. The provider, which serves 12 counties across southwest and south central Michigan, blames changes in Medicare reimbursement for the shift. Bronson at Home will store and deliver supplies at its 165 N. Washington Ave. location in Battle Creek. It will still offer CPAP equipment at its 5161 B Drive South location in Battle Creek. Bronson at Home is the result of a merger last year between Lifespan and Bronson Home Health Care.

    Melissa Cross awarded first ever Van Miller Award

    ATLANTA – AAHomecare will present Melissa Cross, vice president of the homecare division for O.E. Meyer, with the Van Miller Homecare Champion Award at the association’s Stand Up for Homecare reception on Nov. 1. The award honors AAHomecare members who have made exceptional contributions to the homecare community throughout their careers. This year, the award has been renamed to reflect the characteristics of an HME visionary, Van Miller, past CEO and founder of the VGM Group, who passed away in October of 2015. Last year, the association honored Joey Tart and Billy Tart of Family Medical Supply.  

    HME Woman of the Year finalists announced

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has named the four finalists for the inaugural HME Woman of the Year Award. They are: Rose Schafhauser, owner of Association Management, who serves as executive director for MAMES, AZMESA and WAMES; Dr. Kirsten Davin, owner and president of Precision Seating Solutions; Laurie Tomaszewski, chief sales and marketing officer for Handi Medical Supply; and Patricia Mastandrea, COO of MedCare Equipment Company. The award seeks to honor a woman who has made “increasingly significant contributions throughout her career to both her company and the home medical equipment industry.” VGM received 37 nominations for the award which was first announced in June at the VGM Heartland Conference. The winner will be announced at Medtrade.

    Compass Health Brands integrates with Brightree

    CLEVELAND – Compass Health Brands has partnered with Brightree as an integrated electronic purchasing partner. The arrangement allows HME providers to streamline their workflow by ordering equipment and supplies from Compass Health directly through the Brightree Integrated e-Purchasing Platform. Now, when a provider creates a purchase order in the Brightree platform, a transmission is sent through a secure FTP connection to Compass Health, linking the two systems and enabling providers to view item availability and pricing in real time. Providers can also perform one-touch drop shipments, receive automatic confirmations and submit purchase orders directly to Compass Health.

    Mediware integrates with IMS

    LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems is now an integrated solution provider with Integrated Medical Systems, a specialty distributor for the home infusion, specialty pharmacy and respiratory markets. Mediware customers will now have the option to streamline their inventory and order management processes with IMS directly using their CareTend system. “CareTend home infusion and specialty pharmacy customers will be able to simplify electronic purchasing, shipping, and inventory replenishment through automation that will save time and ensure that providers never run out of supplies,” Mediware stated.

    …goes mobile with CareTend

    LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems will launch the CareTend Anywhere mobile application at Medtrade later this month. The app allows customers to access Mediware’s CareTend software application from any location, regardless of the device they are using. “Providers will see firsthand how using mobile delivery tools can speed delivery times so that patients receive their supplies sooner and staff have more time to complete new orders,” said Paul O’Toole, vice president and general manager of Mediware’s Home Care Solutions division. Medtrade takes place Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 in Atlanta.

    Providers adopting mobile technology, Apacheta and Brightree say

    MEDIA, Pa. – Apacheta Corp. and Brightree have seen close to a 60% compound monthly growth rate in customer adoption of mobile technology since they began a partnership two years ago. Apacheta, a provider of mobile business solutions, and Brightree, a provider of cloud-based clinical, business management and billing software solutions, partnered in June 2014 to provide an integrated mobile delivery management solution to HME providers. Customers who have adopted mobile technology have seen, among other benefits, a 25% reduction in overhead costs by streamlining their order and delivery processes, the companies say. Apacheta and Brightree plan to continue and expand on their partnership.

    Industry vets launch VirtueRN

    CHAPIN, S.C. – Two industry veterans have developed and launched VirtueRN, a hospice-HME workflow solution. VirtueRN is the brainchild of Jason Jacobs, former vice president and general manager of a division of Chart Industries, and Gibran Ameer, former COO of Jaysec Technologies. It offers real-time visibility for better decision-making, AutoSync Billing Technology for end-to-end billing, and an executive dashboard for information at a glance. “Although we designed this solution with the needs of both the hospice and the HME in mind, the HME provider is our client,” said Ameer, CEO, in a release. “We really listened to the home medical equipment market when they asked for a solution that was a bridge between them and the growing hospice market.”

    Convaid gives again

    TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid and R82 will participate in the United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and Southwestern Washington 17th Semi-Annual Family Support Conference on Cerebral Palsy & Developmental Disabilities. Rob Proracki, business development representative, will present a lightweight, compact folding pediatric wheelchair to a family chosen by the UCP organization. The conference will be held Oct. 21 and 22 in Portland, Ore. In April, Covaid announced it planned to ramp up its donations to United Cerebral Palsy.

    ‘The Retail Doctor’ to present at Medtrade

    ATLANTA – Golden Technologies will sponsor an exclusive presentation by Bob Phibbs, known as “The Retail Doctor,” at Medtrade. Phibbs will present at 4 p.m. on Oct. 31 in Room C111; seating is limited to 300. He will discuss how to engage customers and increase sales; how to increase value through people, not price; and how to grow margins using easy retail tools. Phibbs is an expert retail speaker, award-winning author and in-demand motivational speaker. Old Forge, Pa.-based Golden Technologies is a manufacturer of lift and recline chairs that emphasizes retail sales.

    New hire to grow new markets at Ottobock

    AUSTIN, Texas – Ottobock North America has appointed Chris Nolan vice president of the orthotics business unit. He will help lead the company’s strategic efforts in O&P and provide guidance into growing new markets. Nolan comes to Ottobock from Endolite, a Miamisburg, Ohio-based company that manufactures lower limb prosthetic feet, knees, ankles, limb systems and liners, where he was vice president and general manager. Before that, he held positions at DJO in Vista, Calif., and Ossur in Foothill Ranch, Calif. Nolan currently serves on the board for the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association as chairman of the National Assembly Committee.


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    10/19/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – The number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving DMEPOS in Round 2 areas decreased more than twice as much from 2012 to 2014 than in non-bid areas, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

    The number of beneficiaries receiving DMEPOS in Round 2 areas decreased 17% from 2012, the year before bid pricing went into effect, to 2014, the year after. The number of beneficiaries in non-bid areas decreased 6% during the same time period.

    “CMS officials stated that competitive bidding pricing has helped limit fraud and abuse and may have curbed unnecessary utilization of some covered items in competitive bidding areas,” the report stated.

    For a corresponding national mail-order program for diabetes supplies, the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving covered items decreased 39% from 2012 to 2014. There was also a 13% increase in the number of beneficiaries receiving these items through retail outlets.

    Despite the decreases in utilization, the GAO cited reports from CMS that indicate Round 2 of competitive bidding and the national mail-order program have had no widespread effects on beneficiary access.

    “CMS officials told GAO that CMS took measures to ensure that contract suppliers met their contract obligations, such as investigating complaints using secret shopping calls, and terminating contractors of suppliers that remained noncompliant after receiving targeted education,” the report states.

    The GAO did acknowledge that some beneficiary advocacy groups and state hospital associations have reported specific access issues, such as difficulty locating contract suppliers that will furnish certain items, and delays in delivery of certain items.

    The GAO also found that 11% of bid areas had three or fewer active contract suppliers and 1% had just one active contract supplier. Additionally, it found that while multiple suppliers had substantial shares of the market for most areas, a single supplier had the majority in some areas.

    For example, the GAO found in 6% of bid areas, one contract supplier had a at least 90% of the market, and 11% of contract suppliers did not furnish any bid items for any areas in their contract.

    “CMS officials told GAO that CMS monitors these suppliers to help ensure that they are meeting their contractual obligations, such as being willing to service all beneficiaries in their areas and to furnish the same items to Medicare beneficiaries that they make available to other customers,” the report stated.


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    10/20/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Medicare reimbursement rates cover, on average, only 88% of overall costs for companies providing HME products and services, according to a new study released yesterday by AAHomecare.

    The study, “Analysis of the Cost of Providing Durable Medical Equipment to the Medicare Population: Measuring the Impact of Competitive Bidding,” was conducted by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates and raises serious concerns about the current Medicare payment model, researchers say.

    “The data are remarkably consistent in showing that the reimbursement-to-cost ratio is significantly less than 100%,” said Allen Dobson, one of the study’s authors, in a release. “No matter how the data is sliced, by organization size and/or product category, the current reimbursement model does not cover provider costs. That is likely unsustainable over the long term.”

    The study comes on the heels of a recently released report from the Government Accountability Office that found the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving DMEPOS in Round 2 areas decreased 17% from 2012, the year before bid pricing went into effect, to 2014, the year after. The number of beneficiaries in non-bid areas decreased 6% during the same time period.

    Together, the study and report make a strong case that competitive bidding is a flawed program, says Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.

    “It’s no surprise that many companies are responding to competitive bidding by not accepting new Medicare patients or closing their doors for good,” he said. “As this trend continues, seniors, people with disabilities and individuals with chronic conditions who depend on home medical equipment are going to have a much more difficult time finding a provider to serve them.”

     

     


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    10/21/2016
    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee could be one thing standing between the HME industry and competitive bidding relief after the elections.

    While Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., doesn’t have substantial objections to the industry’s efforts to retroactively delay a July 1 cut in Medicare reimbursement in non-bid areas, he’s laser focused on getting the 21st Century Cures Act passed before the end of the year, stakeholders say.

    “It’s complicated,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “He wants the DME pay-for for his legislation, which has a shot at going forward after the election.”

    Stakeholders and their champions in Congress have been struggling to get agreement on a pay-for for their delay. One of the pay-fors in the Cures Act would reduce Medicaid rates to Medicare rates for certain HME included in the competitive bidding program starting in 2020.

    The only pieces of legislation likely to move forward when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill in November are those, like the Cures Act, that have been prioritized by leadership. That’s why stakeholders take comfort in assurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan that he will take up legislation addressing bid relief before the end of the year.

    “Leadership is going to drive this,” said Bachenheimer. “All the outstanding issues will get tossed to the wayside unless they are a priority and that’s why the signal from Ryan is important.”

    Best-case scenario: The delay gets folded into a spending bill that lawmakers must pass to continue funding the government beyond Dec. 9, stakeholders say.

    “It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen,” Bachenheimer said.

    Meanwhile, evidence continues to pile up that the bidding program is creating access issues for Medicare beneficiaries and needs to be addressed. The number of beneficiaries receiving DMEPOS in Round 2 areas decreased 17% from 2012, the year before bid pricing went into effect, to 2014, the year after, according to report published by the Government Accountability Office on Oct. 17.

    “That raises a lot of questions,” said Bachenheimer. “You can’t just sweep it under the rug which is what CMS keeps doing.”


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    10/21/2016
    Tracy Orzel

    WASHINGTON – Medicare payments under the competitive bidding program are below providers’ costs and therefore unsustainable, says a new study.

    Medicare reimbursement rates cover, on average, only 88% of overall costs for companies providing HME services, according to the study, “Analysis of the Cost of Providing Durable Medical Equipment to the Medicare Population: Measuring the Impact of Competitive Bidding,” conducted by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates.

    The study examined the cost of goods, direct and indirect costs, repair costs, administrative costs, billing costs, and licensures and accreditation fees.

    “No business can sustain a 12% loss on everything they do,” said Laura Williard, senior director of payer relations for AAHomecare, which commissioned the study.

    CPAP and supplies has the biggest loss, getting paid on average at nearly 69% of costs.

    If CMS continues to under pay providers, there won’t be anyone left to accept Medicare contracts, she added.

    “The belief has been that the larger providers can come in and take over patient care,” said Williard. “This study shows that this will not and cannot happen (because) there really is no where else to cost-shift.”

    Seeing in black and white the losses incurred by the bidding program should have providers taking a hard look at whether they can accept those rates, says Tom Ryan.

    “It’s a wake-up call for providers,” said Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “You cannot stay in business when you continue to lose money.”

    While previous studies, like a recently released report from the Government Accountability Office, have focused on beneficiary access and utilization, the cost study shows that the current rates are unsustainable over the long term, which could help boost support for competitive bidding relief legislation.

    “The people we spoke to on the Hill yesterday wanted to see the study and they were encouraged that we finally had something to show that there’s a problem here,” said Ryan. “They want to see numbers that are showing that (providers) are underwater.”


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    10/21/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – The number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving DMEPOS in Round 2 areas decreased more than twice as much from 2012 to 2014 than in non-bid areas, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

    The number of beneficiaries receiving DMEPOS in Round 2 areas decreased 17% from 2012, the year before bid pricing went into effect, to 2014, the year after. The number of beneficiaries in non-bid areas decreased 6% during the same time period.

    “CMS officials stated that competitive bidding pricing has helped limit fraud and abuse and may have curbed unnecessary utilization of some covered items in competitive bidding areas,” the report stated.

    For a corresponding national mail-order program for diabetes supplies, the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving covered items decreased 39% from 2012 to 2014. There was also a 13% increase in the number of beneficiaries receiving these items through retail outlets.

    Despite the decreases in utilization, the GAO cited reports from CMS that indicate Round 2 of competitive bidding and the national mail-order program have had no widespread effects on beneficiary access.

    “CMS officials told GAO that CMS took measures to ensure that contract suppliers met their contract obligations, such as investigating complaints using secret shopping calls, and terminating contractors of suppliers that remained noncompliant after receiving targeted education,” the report states.

    The GAO did acknowledge that some beneficiary advocacy groups and state hospital associations have reported specific access issues, such as difficulty locating contract suppliers that will furnish certain items, and delays in delivery of certain items.

    The GAO also found that 11% of bid areas had three or fewer active contract suppliers and 1% had just one active contract supplier. Additionally, it found that while multiple suppliers had substantial shares of the market for most areas, a single supplier had the majority in some areas.

    For example, the GAO found in 6% of bid areas, one contract supplier had a at least 90% of the market, and 11% of contract suppliers did not furnish any bid items for any areas in their contract.

    “CMS officials told GAO that CMS monitors these suppliers to help ensure that they are meeting their contractual obligations, such as being willing to service all beneficiaries in their areas and to furnish the same items to Medicare beneficiaries that they make available to other customers,” the report stated.

    Apria joins military employment partnership

    LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare joined the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership program on Oct. 17 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. The MSEP is an employment and career partnership that connects military spouses with more than 335 partner employers that have committed to hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. “We actively extend our recruiting efforts to veteran spouses because we recognize their strong sense of character, loyalty, commitment and perseverance,” said Bill Guidetti, Apria’s executive vice president for the East Zone, who accepted the induction on behalf of the company. “These qualities resonate strongly with Apria, and we are excited to join this humbling community.” The MSEP program was launched in 2011 by Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of vice president and veteran Joe Biden, as part of the DOD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program, which seeks to reduce the 23% unemployment rate experienced by military spouses, and close the 25% wage gap experienced by military wives. To date, the MSEP has hired 98,000 spouses and has helped create 5 million jobs across the country.

    ResMed, Dr. Oz determine America’s ‘sleep score’

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed is teaming up with “The Dr. Oz Show” to launch a campaign to foster better public understanding of sleep health. As part of the campaign, which kicked off on the Oct. 20 show, viewers will have the opportunity to enroll in a national sleep survey and be eligible to receive a free S+ sleep monitoring device. ResMed will give away 1,000 of the devices, which help people track, better understand and improve their sleep. ResMed and Dr. Oz will use the data collected from the survey to determine America’s overall “sleep score.” “Sleep is the most underappreciated health crisis in America,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show.” “In our surveys, 42% of respondents sleep less than six hours a night. This partnership with ResMed is a great way for us to assess the sleep habits of our nation.” To demonstrate how the S+ determines sleep scores, several viewers have been provided with the device and asked to log their sleep scores. Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist, diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and member of “The Dr. Oz Show’s” clinical advisory board, planned to reveal the sleep scores of each of these views on the Oct. 20 show.

    Binson’s doubles retail presence in Michigan

    CENTER LINE, Mich. – Binson’s Home Health Care Centers has expanded its retail medical equipment and supplies outlets with the acquisition of two H-Care stores in Flint and Saginaw, Mich. Both stores will now operate as Binson’s Home Medical Equipment & Supplies. Binson’s kicked off “grand opening” celebrations this week in Saginaw, and it has two additional events planned in Flint on Oct. 26 and in Sterling Heights on Nov. 4. H-Care serves the Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties. Since 2011, Binson’s has doubled in size in Michigan, growing from six retail stores to 12. Binson’s also has locations in Longwood, Fla.

    Judges name retail finalists

    ATLANTA – Judges for the biannual Innovative HME Retail Product Awards have named eight finalists that will advance to an onsite judging round at Medtrade.

    The finalists are (in alphabetical order):

    1) Freedom CPAP Battery from Battery Power Solutions (Booth #1600 at Medtrade)

    2) Handy Cane from Handy Cane by Most Corporation (Booth #2166)

    3) KT Flex Reinforced Adhesive Strips by KT Tape (Booth #2153)

    4) Motivo Tour (Walker) by Motivo (Booth #1952)

    5) Go-Chair from Pride Mobility (Booth #1911)

    6) PrimeMedic from PostureMedic (Booth #1671)

    7) SoClean from SoClean Inc (Booth #2057)

    8) MyPainAway Fibro Cream from Topical Biomedics (Booth #1767)

    “We had a lot of excellent entrants this year,” said Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade.

    The manufacturers of these products will each give presentations during a session at Medtrade hosted by Jim Greatorex of The VGM Group at 9 a.m. on Nov. 1 in Room C102 of the Georgia World Congress Center. Following the presentations, judges and audience members will select first, second and third place winners.

    Last year, Pride Mobility Products took first place with its Go Go Folding Scooter, followed by KT Tape in second place with its KT Recovery + Patches, and Golden Technologies in third place with its DayDreamer Lift Chair.

    University rolls out adaptive trike program

    BILLINGS, Mont. – The University of Montana has launched a new statewide program aimed at encouraging those with paralysis, other disabilities and chronic diseases to engage in more physical activity. The program, called “Wheels Across Montana,” loans adaptive tricycles to disabled Montanans, such as 4-year-old Libby Certain, who was born with cerebral palsy. The program received a $75,000 grant from the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation, helping it to form a fleet of about 20 tricycles, which are low to the ground, easy to mount and pedal, and come with handles for parents or caregivers. "This grant will offer greater independence to individuals with paralysis and provide our community with services that truly enhance all our lives," said Mindy Renfro, principal investigator with MonTECH, which is running the program, in a release.

    NCPA installs officers, adopts resolutions

    NEW ORLEANS – The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has installed a new president and a fifth vice president. The association has also adopted resolutions reaffirming its opposition to retroactive reimbursement cuts and its support of enhanced services networks of community pharmacies. The proceedings were part of the House of Delegates session held in conjunction with the NCPA Annual Convention. DeAnn Mullins, owner of Mullins Pharmacy, WeCare Wellness, and the WeCare Diabetes Education Program, is president; and Michael Kim, who owns multiple independent community pharmacies in the District of Columbia and Maryland, including Grubbs Care Pharmacy, is fifth vice president.

    Essentially Women holds annual conference

    MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Nearly 250 members, vendor partner representatives, speakers and consultants attended Essentially Women’s education conference here Sept. 25-26. The two-day conference offered 19 sessions, and the opportunity to earn and maintain CEUs. Topics included everything from billing and reimbursement to succession planning to the future of women’s health care. Attendees also helped Essentially Women celebrate its 20th year in business with a beach-themed party that included a professional dance troupe that taught everyone the Carolina Shag. The organization, which has 500 members in 1,000 locations, is finalizing dates and a location for its next conference in the fall of 2017. It became a division of the VGM Group in December 2015.

    Short takes: HME Audit Key Survey, Medtrade Spring

    AAHomecare began accepting information on third quarter audit activity for its HME Audit Key Survey on Oct. 17. HME providers can submit their data using a free, web-based survey at www.hmeauditkey.org. Results from second quarter audit activity include a 6% average DME MAC prepayment audit denial rate…Early registration for Medtrade Spring is open. The event takes place Feb. 28 to March 1 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.


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    10/25/2016
    HME News Staff

    WATERLOO, Iowa – Forty percent of the calls it receives through a hotline number are now from patients and caregivers who are being asked to pay out of pocket for their home medical equipment, according to People for Quality Care.

    An increasing number of HME providers are filing claims non-assigned, requiring their patients to cover more of the cost of their equipment, PFQC said in an Oct. 24 press release.

    “I just received a letter from my oxygen provider saying that they would not be taking assignment anymore, and I would be required to pay upfront for my supplies,” said Terrie of Grand Island, Neb., a caller to the hotline. “I am on a fixed income and don’t have the ability to do so.”

    PFQC has seen an uptick in these types of calls in the wake of Medicare slashing reimbursement in non-competitive biddings areas on Jan. 1 and again on July 1.

    Providers like Air-Way Medical in Bishop, Calif., say they have done all they can to save money—in addition to filing claims non-assigned, they’ve laid off staff and they’ve discontinued product categories.

    “If I am forced to go bankrupt, no one else is left to fill this void,” said Glenn Steinke, owner of Air-Way Medical, which is the only provider with a physical location within 150 miles of the rural town.

    In the release, PFQC calls on Congress to intervene in November, when lawmakers return to the Hill, by passing legislation that would retroactively delay the second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas on July 1.

    “Many patients don’t have the financial capacity to take on this additional cost, yet the companies who serve them are operating in the red with Medicare’s current reimbursement,” said Kelly Turner, director of advocacy for PFQC, which maintains the hotline. “Both sides are being squeezed. It’s a no-win system.”


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    10/27/2016
    HME News Staff

    BALTIMORE – In patients with stable COPD, long-term supplemental oxygen does not result in a longer time to death or first hospitalization, nor does it provide sustained benefits regarding other measured outcomes, according to a recent study conducted by The Long-Term Oxygen Treatment Trial Research Group.

    The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 738 patients at 42 centers with stable COPD and moderate resting or moderate exercise-induced desaturation, and followed them for one to six years.

    Patients were randomly assigned to receive long-term supplemental oxygen or no long-term supplemental oxygen. In the supplemental-oxygen group, patients with resting desaturation were prescribed 24-hour oxygen, and those with desaturation only during exercise, were prescribed oxygen during exercise and sleep. 

    Researchers found no significant difference between the supplemental-oxygen and the no-supplemental-oxygen groups in the time to death or first hospitalization, or in the rates of all hospitalizations, COPD exacerbations and COPD-related hospitalizations.

    The study also found no consistent differences in measures of quality of life, lung function or the distance walked in six minutes.


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    10/28/2016
    HME News Staff

    WATERLOO, Iowa – Forty percent of the calls it receives through a hotline number are now from patients and caregivers who are being asked to pay out of pocket for their home medical equipment, according to People for Quality Care.

    An increasing number of HME providers are filing claims non-assigned, requiring their patients to cover more of the cost of their equipment, PFQC said in an Oct. 24 press release.

    “I just received a letter from my oxygen provider saying that they would not be taking assignment anymore, and I would be required to pay upfront for my supplies,” said Terrie of Grand Island, Neb., a caller to the hotline. “I am on a fixed income and don’t have the ability to do so.”

    PFQC has seen an uptick in these types of calls in the wake of Medicare slashing reimbursement in non-competitive biddings areas on Jan. 1 and again on July 1.

    Providers like Air-Way Medical in Bishop, Calif., say they have done all they can to save money—in addition to filing claims non-assigned, they’ve laid off staff and they’ve discontinued product categories.

    “If I am forced to go bankrupt, no one else is left to fill this void,” said Glenn Steinke, owner of Air-Way Medical, which is the only provider with a physical location within 150 miles of the rural town.

    In the release, PFQC calls on Congress to intervene in November, when lawmakers return to the Hill, by passing legislation that would retroactively delay the second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas on July 1.

    “Many patients don’t have the financial capacity to take on this additional cost, yet the companies who serve them are operating in the red with Medicare’s current reimbursement,” said Kelly Turner, director of advocacy for PFQC, which maintains the hotline. “Both sides are being squeezed. It’s a no-win system.”

    Drive gets inspired by rehab

    PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare will combine three of its rehab companies into one larger company called Inspired by Drive.

    Together, the three companies—Columbia Medical, Specialized Orthotic Services and Wenzelite Rehab—have been contributors to the adult and pediatric rehab markets for more than 70 years.

    Initially, Inspired by Drive will focus on enhancing existing products and creating new products in three pediatric rehab categories: alternative positioning, bathing/toileting and mobility. Longer term, the company will expand its product offerings into more complex rehab categories.

    The headquarters for Inspired by Drive will be Columbia Medical’s current location in Sante Fe Springs, Calif.

    Drive bought Columbia Medical, a manufacturer of pediatric wheelchairs, aircraft transfer chairs, bath and shower products, gait trainers and car seats, in 2015. It also bought U.K.-based SOS, the manufacturer of the P Pod, Nessie and other postural seating systems, that same year.

    Drive bought Wenzelite Rehab, which manufacturers a full line of mobility and seating products for children, tens and adults with special needs, in 2003.

    Last year, company officials said the addition of Columbia Medical and SOS to Wenzelite Rehab would help Drive make rehab more of a focus.

    Long-term supplemental O2 has little affect on patients with stable COPD, study says

    BALTIMORE – In patients with stable COPD, long-term supplemental oxygen does not result in a longer time to death or first hospitalization, nor does it provide sustained benefits regarding other measured outcomes, according to a recent study conducted by The Long-Term Oxygen Treatment Trial Research Group.

    The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 738 patients at 42 centers with stable COPD and moderate resting or moderate exercise-induced desaturation, and followed them for one to six years.

    Patients were randomly assigned to receive long-term supplemental oxygen or no long-term supplemental oxygen. In the supplemental-oxygen group, patients with resting desaturation were prescribed 24-hour oxygen, and those with desaturation only during exercise, were prescribed oxygen during exercise and sleep. 

    Researchers found no significant difference between the supplemental-oxygen and the no-supplemental-oxygen groups in the time to death or first hospitalization, or in the rates of all hospitalizations, COPD exacerbations and COPD-related hospitalizations.

    The study also found no consistent differences in measures of quality of life, lung function or the distance walked in six minutes.

    Study shows self-monitoring tools make a difference, ResMed says

    LOS ANGELES – More than 87% of CPAP users were compliant with their therapy when they used ResMed’s myAir and were monitored with AirView, according to the results of a study that will be presented at the CHEST annual meeting on Oct. 26. That’s compared to 70% of PAP users who were compliant when they were only monitored with AirView. “This new study shows that online self-monitoring tools engage patients and significantly improve their compliance and adherence to treatment,” said Adam Benjafield, ResMed’s medical director. The results of the observational study were based on 128,000 people with sleep apnea.  myAir, which is available on the web and via iPhone app to patients using ResMed’s Air10 devices, allows users to track the progress of their therapy between visits to their clinicians, including their daily sleep scores, details on four key treatment metrics and personalized coaching tips. Without wireless monitoring, CPAP adherence can be as low as 50%, according to ResMed.

    Joint committees approve sleep apnea recommendations

    WASHINGTON – The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board voted to approve guidelines for obstructive sleep apnea screening for truck drivers during a joint meeting on Oct. 24. The board also recommended a set of guidelines for when a truck driver should be required to have a sleep test, including mandatory screening for any truck driver with a body mass index of 40 or above, with admitted fatigue or sleeping during wakeful periods, or for any drivers who have been involved in a sleep-related motor vehicle accident. Screening could also be mandatory for drivers who possess a BMI of at least 33 and have at least three out of 11 risk factors, such as untreated hypertension, Type 2 diabetes or loud snoring. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will make the ultimate decision on whether or not to approve the guidelines. It isn’t expected to make a decision until the next administration.

    DirectRx wins bid contract for nebulizers

    TROY, Mich. – DirectRx Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy, says it has won a competitive bidding contract for nebulizers and related supplies as part of Round 1 2017. Under the contract, which runs from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018, DirectRx will supply nebulizers and supplies to Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas City, and in Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio and Union counties in Indiana. “DirectRx is proud to be awarded this contract so that we can further our vision of helping patients with respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD,” said Amanda Berishaj, PharmD, of DirectRx. “COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory conditions can be treated.” CMS is expected to announce all of the contract suppliers for Round 1 2017 this fall. It announced the payment amounts for the program in September. DirectRx, a family-owned pharmacy accredited by URAC, ACHC, NABP and WBENC, has grown to serve more than 38 states.

    ConvaTec hits London market with $1.8B IPO

    LONDON - ConvaTec on Wednesday raised nearly $1.8 billion in London's biggest initial public offering of 2016, according to news reports. The company, which manufactures ostomy, wound, skin, continence and other critical care products, will use the proceeds from the IPO to redeem or repay debt. ConvaTec's shares traded just below their offer price of $2.76, at $2.75. The IPO represents about 33.8% of the company's stock, assuming no exercise of an overallotment option, and will rise to 38.9% if the option is exercised in full. Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners, the private equity firms that own ConvaTec, will hold 45.1% and 19.5% of shares, respectively, assuming no exercise of the overallotment option.

    Philips launches COPD hub

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Royal Philips has launched COPD insider, an online community dedicated to COPD care. Subscribers can access articles, videos, how-to guides and case studies to learn about leading insight and solutions for patient care. “COPD Insider is a new way to reach healthcare providers and offer educational solutions to help improve care for the millions of people living with COPD,” said Eli Diacopoulos, business leader, Home Respiratory Care, Philips, in a press release. COPD affects and estimated 24 million adults.

    Mediware partners with McKesson

    LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware and McKesson Medical-Surgical have entered into an integrated solution provider agreement for Mediware’s CareTend software. The integration will expand access to real-time pricing, inventory and delivery notifications and analytics, according to a release. “We are thrilled about the new relationship with McKesson, which will help providers manage their medical supplies and equipment, as well as pharmaceutical ordering and packaging needs, all in real-time,” added Paul O’Toole, vice president and general manager of Mediware’s Home Care Solutions division, in the release.

    Medline invests $60M in facility

    MUNDELEIN, Ill. – Medline has invested an additional $60 million to increase manufacturing of incontinence products at its Lithia Springs, Ga., facility. The investment has paved the way for a 400,000-square-foot expansion of the facility that will ensure products can be shipped to any of the company’s 40-plus distribution centers across the country. The facility, originally opened in 2011, spans 600,000 square feet and uses equipment that allows Medline to compress briefs, helping it to reduce packaging by 20%. The company estimates more than 25 million are affected by incontinence.

    Invacare names new GM for Europe

    ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has appointed Ralf Ledda senior vice president and general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa effective Nov. 1. Ledda has more than 20 years of experience at Alber GmbH, Invacare’s German-based subsidiary that specializes in electromotive technology and power add-on devices for medical and recreational products. Most recently, he was the managing director of Alber. Invacare says it will expand the availability of Alber products as it continues its ongoing transformation to focus on clinical complex products and post-acute care. Those products include the Scalamobil stairclimbing systems, multiple power-assist devices for manual wheelchairs and Neodrive technology for e-bicycles.

    Provider donates gift of mobility

    LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Designed Living plans to donate wheelchairs to the Free Wheelchair Mission, a nonprofit that provides wheelchairs to disabled people in developing nations. An estimated 100 million people in developing nations are in need of wheelchairs, according to a press release. "I was fortunate enough to participate in a distribution of wheelchairs in Lima, Peru and in Chennai, India,” said Fred Gladney, Designed Living president/CEO. “The expressions of gratitude on the faces of the recipients was unbelievably moving.” The provider offers DME, prosthetics and home and vehicle modifications for catastrophically injured workers.

    RESNA calls for proposals for annual conference

    ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA is now accepting proposals for workshops and instructional courses for its annual conference. The organization will accept proposals until Nov. 30 for RESNA 2017, June 25-29 at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans. Conference organizers seek proposals for innovative, interdisciplinary, informative and practical workshops and instructional courses in the following topic areas:  computer applications and communications; cognitive and sensory impairments; internationally appropriate technology; job and environment accommodation; emerging technology; service delivery and outcomes; public policy and advocacy; and seating and mobility, including complex rehab technology. In addition to workshops and instructional courses, RESNA 2017 will offer scientific research platform and poster sessions; professional development and leadership training; interactive exhibits; networking events; and student competitions.


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    10/28/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS issued a final rule Oct. 28 with a number of changes to competitive bidding, including establishing bid limits for future rounds of the program based on the fee schedule rates before they were adjusted.

    “This will avoid a downward trend where the new, lower bid limits apply to each subsequent round of bidding based on fee schedule rates adjusted using bidding information from the previous round,” the agency stated. “This will help enhance the long-term viability of the program and allow suppliers to take into account both decreases and increases in costs in determining their bids, while ensuring that payments under the program do not exceed the amounts that would otherwise be paid had the program not been implemented.”

    Other changes to competitive bidding in the rule:

    • Requiring bidding entities to obtain a bid surety bond from an authorized surety on the Department of the Treasury’s Listing of Certified Companies for each competitive bidding area associated with their bid. The bond must be finalized at $50,000 and must indicate the CBA specific to that bond.
    • Requiring that a contract will not be awarded to a bidding entity unless the entity meets applicable state licensure requirements. “This revision does not reflect a change in policy as CMS already has a regulation in place that requires suppliers to meet applicable state licensure requirements,” the agency stated.
    • Extending the appeals process to all breach-of-contract actions that CMS may take under the competitive bidding program, rather than just for contract termination actions. CMS will issue a notice of breach of contract, which will include any breach-of-contract actions the agency intends to take.

    The final rule also includes a provision addressing inverted prices for similar items with different features under competitive bidding prior to adjusting fee schedule amounts paid in non-bid areas. CMS will use the weighted average of the prices for the similar items in a product category as the revised price for the items that will then be sued to adjust the fee schedule amounts.

    Responding to the final rule, the Council for Quality Respiratory Care said it was pleased CMS will implement bid limits for future rounds of the program, but it continues to believe there are “fundamental problems” with the program that need to be addressed before rates were applied in non-bid areas.

    “It is imperative that Congress fix this problem by reinstating the phase-in of the new rates in non-competitive bidding areas and require CMS to engage with stakeholders to reconsider methodology for setting rates in non-competitive bidding areas,” it stated.


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  • 11/02/16--13:20: CMS awards new contracts
  • 11/02/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS on Wednesday announced the contract suppliers for the latest round of its competitive bidding program.

    For Round 1 2017, CMS says it has executed 182 contracts, 92% of the contracts it offered. The contracts will run from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018.

    CMS says 92% of the contract suppliers are already established in the competitive bidding area, the product category, or both. It says 93% of small suppliers, those with gross revenues of $3.5 million or less, accepted offers.

    Contract suppliers for each product category in each CBA can be found in the Supplier Directory at www.medicare.gov/supplier.

    CMS announced the single payment amounts for Round 1 2017 on Sept. 8.

    Contract suppliers will see an overall reduction in Medicare reimbursement of 5.2% from the Round 1 re-compete to Round 1 2017. The product categories with the steepest cuts are TENS devices at 45.1%, followed by CPAP devices at 18.5%.


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    11/02/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS has tapped Performant Recovery to perform post-payment reviews of Medicare claims for DMEPOS and home health/hospice nationwide.

    The other RACs awarded contracts will perform post-payment reviews to identify and correct Medicare claims that contain improper payments that were made under Part A and Part B for all provider types other than DMEPOS. Performant Recovery also won that contract for Region 1. Cotiviti won contracts for Region 2 and 3, and HMS Federal Solutions won a contract for Region 4.

    CMS planned to have new RACs in place in 2014, but several of its awards were contested.

    CMS announced in 2015 that it had tapped Connolly as the national RAC for DME.


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    Bid program permeated annual trade show, but attendees are determined
    11/04/2016
    HME News Staff

    ATLANTA – With its core base of attendees small businesses, there was no way this year’s application of competitive bidding pricing to rural areas wasn’t going to have an impact on Medtrade.

    But Show Director Kevin Gaffney said, while attendance was “lagging,” there were signs that those who did make the annual pilgrimage to Atlanta were committed to figuring out how to make the HME industry work.

    “It seems like the rural roll-out has been more painful than other rounds of competitive bidding,” Gaffney said. “When it’s all said and done, there may be fewer providers, but I think there will be stronger providers and new providers with different business models.”

    Provider Bob Elwood said he was at the show looking for partners who can help him grow his retail business, which makes up 30% to 40% of his total business.

    “We’re looking for anything, everything, but mostly retail-related,” said Elwood, owner of Med City Mobility in Rochester, Minn. “We keep moving in that direction.”

    Battle ahead

    Lawmakers return Nov. 14 for a brief lame-duck session, and stakeholders say they have heard loud and clear that the HME industry needs relief, ideally in the form of a retroactive delay of a second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts that went into effect July 1.

    “The HME market is disrupted like never before and the Hill is hearing it,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare during its Washington Legislative Update. “There’s the will and the interest to get something done, and the grassroots is so loud and that’s because of you in the room.”

    Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., reiterated the importance of communicating with lawmakers in remarks to attendees during a special appearance, noting that there is a lot at stake.

    “Thirty-eight percent of DME suppliers have gone out of business since this craziness started,” he said. “Not because they chose to retire, but because the government has gotten engaged in the process. They’re picking the winners and losers. It’s so sad.”

    A long-time supporter of the HME industry, Price also received an award from AAHomecare at the gathering.

    The year of the woman

    Two women took home prestigious awards at Medtrade this year.

    Dr. Kirsten Davin, owner and president of Precision Seating Solutions, was awarded the inaugural HME Woman of the Year Award from the VGM Group at AAHomecare’s Washington Legislative Update.

    Melissa Cross, vice president of the homecare division for O.E. Meyer in Sandusky, Ohio, was awarded the newly named Van Miller Homecare Champion Award from AAHomecare at the association’s Stand Up for Homecare reception.

    Innovative products

    Manufacturers also earned awards at the show in the biannual Innovative HME Retail Product Awards. Topricin BioMedical took first place with its MyPainAway Fibro Cream, an odorless, greaseless cream that seeks to relieve Fibromyalgia pain.

    SoClean 2 CPAP Sanitizer by SoClean took second place and The Motivo Tour walker from Motivo placed third.

    Best in show

    For the Providers’ Choice Awards, the StandUp Walker from Alotech/Urise Products took the gold; the Handy Cane from the MOST Corporation took silver; and the Avid Rehab Vector Power Chair from Merits Health Products took bronze.

    And finally two exhibitors received special recognition for their booths. The Creative Concept Booth Award went to Stander for its red carpet theme and the Best Booth Award went to ResMed for its dramatic lighting, creative spacing and large-form lifestyle murals/digital displays.

     


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    11/04/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS on Nov. 2 announced the contract suppliers for the latest round of its competitive bidding program.

    For Round 1 2017, CMS says it has executed 182 contracts, 92% of the contracts it offered. The contracts will run from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018.

    CMS says 92% of the contract suppliers are already established in the competitive bidding area, the product category, or both. It says 93% of small suppliers, those with gross revenues of $3.5 million or less, accepted offers.

    Contract suppliers for each product category in each CBA can be found in the Supplier Directory at www.medicare.gov/supplier.

    CMS announced the new single payment amounts for Round 1 2017 on Sept. 8.

    Contract suppliers will see an overall reduction in Medicare reimbursement of 5.2% from the Round 1 re-compete to Round 1 2017, according to analysis by AAHomecare. The product categories with the steepest cuts* are TENS devices at 45.1%, followed by CPAP devices at 18.5%.

    CMS finalizes changes to bid program

    WASHINGTON – CMS issued a final rule Oct. 28 with a number of changes to competitive bidding, including establishing bid limits for future rounds of the program based on the fee schedule rates before they were adjusted.

    Other changes:

    ·      Requiring bidding entities to obtain a bid surety bond from an authorized surety on the Department of the Treasury’s Listing of Certified Companies for each competitive bidding area associated with their bid. The bond must be finalized at $50,000 and must indicate the CBA specific to that bond.

    ·      Requiring that a contract will not be awarded to a bidding entity unless the entity meets applicable state licensure requirements. “This revision does not reflect a change in policy as CMS already has a regulation in place that requires suppliers to meet applicable state licensure requirements,” the agency stated.

    ·      Extending the appeals process to all breach-of-contract actions that CMS may take under the competitive bidding program, rather than just for contract termination actions. CMS will issue a notice of breach of contract, which will include any breach-of-contract actions the agency intends to take.

    The final rule also includes a provision addressing inverted prices for similar items with different features under competitive bidding prior to adjusting fee schedule amounts paid in non-bid areas. CMS will use the weighted average of the prices for the similar items in a product category as the revised price for the items that will then be sued to adjust the fee schedule amounts.


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    11/04/2016
    Liz Beaulieu

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – C2C Innovative Solutions, the contractor handling the second level of the Medicare appeals process, has received the green light from CMS to expand a demonstration project that allows HME providers to speak with reconsideration professionals by phone to try and resolve their cases.

    C2C, CMS’s Qualified Independent Contractor or QIC, received word from the agency on Nov. 1 that it can open the demo to all product categories, with the exception of power mobility devices, Daniel Roach, phone demo project manager, told HME News at Medtrade.

    “The demo will still only apply to Jurisdictions C and D, and it will still only apply to claims from Jan. 1, 2013, up until current claims,” he said.

    To date, C2C has been randomly selecting up to five claims per National Provider Identifier or NPI for two product categories: diabetes testing supplies and oxygen equipment.
    C2C has conducted more than 4,000 calls and has re-opened close to 10,000 cases as of the end of October, Roach said.

    “That’s 10,000 claims that have been removed from the ALJ,” he said. “They have been re-opened and made favorable.”

    More providers could be taking advantage of the phone demo. Right now, only 60% of providers agree to go through the process when C2C notifies them by mail with a scheduled date and time for a phone conversation.

    “That is increasing because of the outreach we’re doing,” said Emily Stroupe, education and outreach specialist.

    For providers who outsource their billing to third parties, there has been confusion about who should be participating in the phone demo.

    “Now we’re going to start working with the third parties directly,” Stroupe said.

    C2C is not surprised CMS has decided to expand its phone demo.

    “They’ve wanted to get more reversals done,” said Janet Lawrence, medical director for C2C.


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    11/04/2016
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS has tapped Performant Recovery to perform post-payment reviews of Medicare claims for DMEPOS and home health/hospice nationwide.

    The other RACs awarded contracts will perform post-payment reviews to identify and correct Medicare claims that contain improper payments that were made under Part A and Part B for all provider types other than DMEPOS. Performant Recovery also won that contract for Region 1. Cotiviti won contracts for Region 2 and 3, and HMS Federal Solutions won a contract for Region 4.

    CMS planned to have new RACs in place in 2014, but several of its awards were contested.

    CMS originally announced in 2015 that it had tapped Connolly as the national RAC for DME.

    AHP closes patient contact center in Texas

    BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – American HomePatient will lay off 98 employees in Longview, Texas, by Dec. 31, according to the Longview News-Journal. AHP is closing its patient contact center there, consolidating operations in Nashville. The center employed 142 people in June, down from 160 in February, according to the newspaper. AHP expanded into Longview five years ago after the Longview Economic Development Corp. extended a seven-year, $1.1 million incentive. AHP promised to employ 220 people by 2015, according to the newspaper. “I have spoken to them,” LEDCO President and CEO Wayne Mansfield told the newspaper. “There have been a significant number of changes on how Medicare reimburses its participants. It’s drastically affected their bottom line.”

    Whistleblower drops lawsuit against Lincare

    CLEARWATER, Fla. – A former billing specialist has voluntarily dropped her False Claims Act lawsuit against Lincare, according to Law360. In a one-page order, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven granted Rebecca Saiff’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, a request that was granted without prejudice to either Saiff or the U.S. government, which declined to intervene, according to the legal publication. Saiff had filed a lawsuit alleging that Lincare has been knowingly defrauding the government of millions of dollars by billing false claims to Medicare. She worked for Lincare at its corporate headquarters from January to July 2013, and at its Largo, Fla., regional billing and collection office from August 2013 to February 2014. She filed her lawsuit under seal in April 2014.

    Va., N.C. move to regional association

    CARY, N.C. – The Virginia Association of Durable Medical Equipment Companies (VADMEC) and the North Carolina Association of Medical Equipment Services (NCAMES) have combined to form the Atlantic Coast Medical Equipment Suppliers (ACMESA). The executive director of both associations, Beth Bowen, made the announcement on twitter on Nov. 3. Bowen owns an association management company named TayCar, Inc. Bowen also leads the Florida Association of Home Care Services (FAHCS) and, earlier this year, she took the helm of the Association for Tennessee Oxygen & Medical Equipment Services (ATHOMES).

    Drive extends warranty

    PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare has extended its warranty on all scooters and power chairs. Effective Nov. 1, new scooter and power chair purchases from Drive DeVilbiss will have a 12-month warranty on batteries, and a 24-month warranty on electronics. Scooters and power chairs will continue to have a limited lifetime warranty on the main frame. “Implementing this extended warranty for all our scooters and power chairs speaks to the confidence and pride we have in these products,” said Brandon Sykes, product manager-power and manual wheelchairs for Drive DeVilbiss.

    ResMed enhances AirView’s features

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has enhanced AirView, its cloud-based remote patient monitoring platform, to include action groups, allowing clinicians to filter sleep apnea patients into groups based on adherence status or a specific therapy issue. This new “manage by exception” feature will reduce the time clinicians spend on back-office paperwork and processes, and will help ensure that patients get the most responsive and quality treatment, the company says. Action Groups are based on a similar feature in U-Sleep—another ResMed monitoring tool— that reduced clinicians’ patient management time by 59%, the company says.

    AllegroMedical: 20 years strong

    BOLINGBROOK, Ill. – AllegroMedical.com, an online medical supply company, is celebrating 20 years in business. “Our first website offered 500 products,” said Craig Hood, founder, in a press release. “Today, we offer more than 60,000 products to help people manage chronic conditions from diabetes and incontinence, to spinal cord injuries and COPD.” AllegroMedical.com serves 2 million customers, according to the release.

    Livingston Innovations receives award for Freedom Trax

    CHICAGO – Livingston Innovations of Waukegan, Ill., has been named one of the winners of the 15th annual Chicago Innovation Awards. The company’s Freedom Trax is a powered track attachment for manual wheelchairs that allows users to maneuver through sand, snow, grass and other off-road conditions. “We are honored to receive such a prestigious award,” said Troy Livingston, president. “Our team has worked tirelessly to provide a device that can help people get outside and experience the outdoors.” Winners receive a variety of honors, including the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ Bell in New York City.

    Amoena, Juzo line up annual symposium

    LAS VEGAS – The lineup for the 2017 POWER Symposium from Amoena and Juzo is taking shape, with a keynote address by Libby Gill, executive coach, brand strategist and bestselling author. The event, Feb. 23-25 at the Paris Hotel here, will also feature billing and insurance guidance from healthcare attorney Jeff Baird, profitable selling strategies from Christine Gifford, and inspiration from Jane Jenkins Herlong. Register by Dec. 31 for an $85 early-bird discount.


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