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    10/05/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – A bipartisan bill that would require Medicare to cover custom breast prostheses was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

    The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act, H.R. 6980, is co-sponsored by Rep. Rob Blum, R-Iowa, and Judy Chu, D-Calif.

    “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with my colleague, Democrat Rep. Chu, to provide women with coverage of more options following a mastectomy,” said Blum in a press release. “As breast cancer rates continue to rise and we work toward finding a cure, it is important to help the women who are fighting this battle and ensure they have options following this life-changing procedure.”

    Medicare already has a code and an allowable for custom breast forms, but local coverage determinations (LCDs) down code them as "not medically necessary." That means custom forms get reimbursed the same as off-the-shelf products, even though they cost $2,500 to $3,000 vs. $350 to $400, respectively.

    Essentially Women, a division of the VGM Group, spearheaded the #MakeMeWholeAgain campaign, a grassroots effort to advocate for the legislation.

    “Women are unique and come in all shapes, sizes and skin tones,” said Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women in a press release. “Providing Medicare coverage for a segment of this population can give women an option that can meet their needs and make them whole again.”

    Similar bills have been introduced in the past, most recently in 2011.

    Study highlights cost savings, health benefits of NIV

    LAFAYETTE, La. – Non-invasive ventilation helps COPD patients live longer and saves Medicare money, according to a new study from VieMed and KPMG.

    For the study, “CRF/COPD 4-year CMS Data Comparison of Mortality & Cost, (2013-2016),” KPMG analyzed four years of data from CMS and VieMed, a provider of post-acute respiratory services, to compare the costs and benefits of commonly prescribed respiratory assist devices. Patients using NIV at home with a high-touch care model have the lowest overall costs and hospitalization rates, it found.

    Specifically, the study examined results of untreated patients who used no respiratory device at home, patients using a bi-level positive airway pressure device (BiPAP), and patients using an NIV device.

    Only 22% of COPD patients with chronic renal failure using NIV died, compared to 38% of untreated patients, the study found.

    Other findings:

    ·      Patients with no ventilation support cost CMS $41,000

    ·      Patients using a BiPAP cost $39,000

    ·      Patients using NIV coupled with a high-touch care model cost $29,000

    ·      25% of untreated patients were admitted to a hospital

    ·      26% of patients using a BiPAP were admitted to a hospital

    ·      Less than 20% of patients using NIV and receiving high-touch care model were admitted to the hospital.

    “The KPMG study is one of the most important studies of this issue to date,” said Dr. William Frazier, chief medical officer for VieMed, which commissioned the study. “It should help physicians and others make informed decisions about the best approach to treating patients suffering from COPD.”

    Invacare launches BluePrint for Success

    ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has launched a program with resources, tools and support to help HME providers succeed. Invacare BluePrint for Success can help providers consider whether to diversify into new channels or fine-tune their business practices, according to a press release. “No two providers are alike, but the most successful have one thing in common: a plan,” said Courtney Sankovich, director for channel marketing at Invacare. “This new program aims to help HME providers develop their own plan for success and give them the support, products and resources they need to achieve it.”

    180 Medical honored

    OKLAHOMA CITY – 180 Medical, a provider of urological and ostomy supplies, has been recognized for the 9th year as one of the Best Places to Work in Oklahoma by the Best Companies Group, which surveys nearly 6,000 companies and their 800,000 employees every year. "We are just so proud and pleased to be ranked as one of the best employers in Oklahoma," says Angie Christopher, HR director. "We're dedicated to making 180 Medical a fun and fulfilling place to work for our employees, where they can feel like they're making a difference in our customers' lives, while also being valued and rewarded for their productivity."

    QS/1 to honor community pharmacists

    SPARTANBURG, S.C. – QS/1 will make a donation to charity in the name of three pharmacists at the 2018 National Community Pharmacists Association Annual Convention, held Oct. 6-9, as a way to honor the work pharmacists do. “QS/1 stands with NCPA in supporting the efforts of community pharmacy,” said Kevin Welch, president, Smith Technologies and chief technology officer for J M Smith Corporation. “We believe pharmacists play a crucial role in their community’s health and are a vital link in health care.” Convention attendees will have the chance to enter three drawings for $1,500 each to be donated to the charity of their choice in their name. QS/1 will randomly select a winner each evening.

    Supplier numbers stay steady

    WASHINGTON – Supplier numbers held steady for the second quarter of 2018, according to AAHomecare’s latest supplier number analysis. The total decrease since 2010 has remained the same at -34% in unique suppliers and -32% in supplier locations. For 2018, there has been less than a 2% decrease in supplier companies, mostly during the first quarter.

    MACs request self-audits for CPAP supplies

    WASHINGTON – Certain providers of CPAP supplies have begun receiving letters from Noridian and CGS, requesting them to conduct self-audits of claims within 180 days, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare. The providers targeted: those associated with overpayments as a result of a recent study by the Office of Inspector General. If providers identify overpayments, they then need to contact the MACs within 60 days after the review to either adjust the claim, send a check for the overpayment amount, or negotiate a repayment plan. The self-audits may be conducted by third-party consultants. The OIG report, published in June, found that, of 110 sample claims that Medicare paid in 2014 and 2015, only 24 complied with Medicare requirements.
     

    MK Battery taps Merdinger as president

    ANAHEIM, Calif. – MK Battery has named Wayne Merdinger as its new president. Merdinger succeeds Mark Wels, who co-founded the company in 1983. “Wayne is the consummate dedicated professional with whom we have all had the pleasure of working since 2006 when he joined us as head of international business development,” said Wels in a press release. Merdinger has served as MK’s executive vice president and general manager since 2013. Wels will continue to serve on the board of directors and as vice president and general manager of MK’s parent company, East Penn Manufacturing Co.

    Harmar launches LiftSquad

    SARASOTA, Fla. – Harmar Mobility has launched the LiftSquad Installation Support Network. Harmar has long maintained a network of trained and certified installation professionals, and by formalizing that network, the company creates a strong platform to serve nearly 1,000 veterans every month, along with purchases from its dealer network. Every LiftSquad installer is trained and certified by Harmar through a rigorous training program. Founded in 1998, Harmar manufactures stair lifts, vertical platform lifts and a wide range of scooter and wheelchair carriers.

    Website launches for discount diabetes supplies

    ELMHURST, N.Y. – Affordable OTC, a provider of discount diabetes products, has launched https://affordableotc.com, a website that offers products with savings of more than 70%. Affordable OTC offers an extensive range of brand name products like test strips, meters and lancets from manufacturers like Roche and Abbott. “Affordable OTCs goal is to make the high expense of glucose monitoring available to everyone that needs it,” a press release states. “This is their main purpose, and they are going above and beyond to achieve it.”

    RESNA calls for proposals

    ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA still has a call for proposals open for its 2019 annual conference, June 24-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto. RESNA will join six other organizations holding events at the Metro that week as part of RehabWeek. The call for proposals for instructional courses closed Oct. 1, but it is open for workshops and symposia until Dec. 21 and for the student design competition until March 15. RESNA will begin selecting proposals for the event in late winter and will send out notifications in early spring. The organization expects to release a schedule for the conference in the spring. Registration for RESNA 2019/RehabWeek 2019 is expected to open Nov. 19. The organization held its 2018 annual conference in the Washington, D.C., area on July 13-15.

    HP makes inroads in custom orthotics market

    SAN FRANCISCO – HP has formed a strategic alliance with Go 4-D, a provider of 3D printed medical orthotics, to modernize the process used to create custom orthotics. As part of the alliance, Go 4-D will distribute FitStation powered by HP throughout the North American market. HP’s FitStation platform combines 3D foot scanning with gait analysis to create recommendations and 3D printed custom orthotics from a person’s unique biomechanics. This will allow Go 4-D to manufacture comfortable, precise and cost-effective custom orthotics using cutting-edge HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems. The North American foot orthotic insoles market is expected to grow to more than $1.7 billion by 2022, according to a report from Statista.

    FODAC forms charity with Dynarex…

    TUCKER, Ga. – Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), a nonprofit organization providing DME and services to those living with disabilities, has joined forces with Dynarex, a provider of disposable and durable medical supplies, to form a new charitable program. Orangeburg, N.Y.-based Dynarex will formally establish the program at Medtrade, Oct. 15-17 in Atlanta, in conjunction with the launch of its Durable Medical Products line. “Our company has always felt we have more to give to the world than just our products,” said Zalman Tenenbaum, president and CEO of Dynarex. “When we decided to launch our DME line, we wanted to emphasize how this equipment empowers those with disabilities by enabling them to engage more fully in life. This partnership with FODAC syncs well with our core principal of ‘We Care Like Family.’” As part of the program, Dynarex will donate 100 wheelchairs to FODAC and will donate a portion of the proceeds from every DME purchase. FODAC will be responsible for managing the warehousing and distribution of the donated Dynarex products to different groups, including pediatric and veteran initiatives. Dynarex’s new line includes mobility products, rollators, wheelchairs, bathroom safety equipment, beds and rails, mattresses and cushions, and patient room accessories.

    …collects equipment for relief efforts

    ATLANTA – Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) will be collecting donated equipment at Medtrade, Oct. 15-17 in Atlanta, for those affected by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. “Items most in need are wheelchairs (bariatric and standard), CPAPs, nebulizers, hospital beds, bath safety equipment and transfer tub benches,” Chris Brand, CEO of FODAC, told Medtrade. FODAC has received requests from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pitch in with relief efforts. FODAC has distributed donations of HME to those affected by disasters in 18 states and four territories since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “The 12 months since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston has seen unprecedented levels of disaster relief for communities and displaced survivors in Houston, Florida, Georgia, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the American Samoa Islands,” Brand said. “We give special thanks to generous financial and equipment donations from individuals and companies like Drive Medical, Hospital Overstock and MK Battery.” FODAC will be at Booth #2571.

    iLevel passes 20K mark

    DURYEA, Pa. – Quantum Rehab says more than 20,000 power wheelchair users have adopted iLevel technology, a power adjustable seat height system. “When we launched iLevel almost four years ago, we sought to give complex rehab power chair users a better experience,” said Jay Brislin, vice president of Quantum Rehab. “We’ve been humbled by the exceptional number of individuals who have shared how iLevel has revolutionized their power chair use.” iLevel offers standing-height seat elevation of 12 inches and a driving speed of 4.5 mph.


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    10/12/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    YARMOUTH, Maine – It turns out, even with the huge backlog of Medicare appeals stuck at the administrative law judge level, whether or not to accept a settlement is as divisive an issue as it gets in the HME industry.

    The respondents to a recent HME Newspoll were evenly divided on the issue, with 50% feeling the need to take a stand and 50% feeling the need to take the money and run.

    “Why should CMS be left off the hook and rewarded for messing things up in the first place?” wrote one respondent. “No settlements.”

    In November, AAHomecare plans to meet with CMS and the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals to continue discussing settlement options. To date, there have been two such options: an offer of 68% of the net allowed amount for acute care and critical access hospitals; and an offer of 62% for providers with fewer than 500 appeals pending at OMHA and the Medicare Appeals Council combined, with a total billed amount of $9,000 or less per appeal.

    A big reason respondents feel the need to take a stand: They know they’re in the right, they say.

    “Ninety percent of the rulings we receive are favorable,” wrote one respondent. “We have waited so long that I am no longer willing to accept a settlement that will be less than what we anticipate to receive from future rulings.”

    For the respondents who report they are willing to settle, the most frequently cited percentages of the net allowed amount that they’d be willing to settle at were 90% and 80%.

    “We are in a high time-demand business,” wrote one respondent. “The more you wait, the less you make. At this point, a settlement is a win for us. The government has endless resources and can take all the time in the world; unfortunately, we can’t.”

    Other respondents echoed this notion, saying a settlement could help them keep their doors open.

    “It’s hard because we have never lost a case with the ALJ, but if things don’t change quickly, we will be shutting our doors after 21 years of business,” wrote one respondent. “Yes, I would take a lower rate simply because I don’t think we will be here much longer.”

    Some respondents are in a dire enough situation that they report they’ll settle for even 60% of the net allowed amount.

    “I have actually received a settlement offer, as I had one patient awaiting a ruling from the ALJ,” wrote one respondent. “I took the 62% check and ran with it.”


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    10/12/2018
    HME News Staff

    NORWOOD, Mass. – Reliable Respiratory has acquired the ventilation business of New Bedford, Mass.–based Enos Home Medical.

    “Ventilator care is one of the most intensive and highest acuity lines of home care for patients,” said Eric Mongeau, vice president of sales and marketing at Reliable Respiratory in a press release. “We understand the complexities of caring for these patients, and take great pride in meeting their clinical and personal needs. We are pleased to welcome Enos’ ventilator patients in our family.”

    The deal is the latest in a growth spurt for Reliable Respiratory. In June, it acquired Mount Auburn Hospital DME in Cambridge, Mass., and in August, it launched Integrate Vent Solutions to serve as the exclusive New England distributor of the VOCSN, a portable device that combines a ventilator, oxygen concentrator, cough assist, suction and nebulizer into one unified system.

    The deal will allow Enos to focus on its core services, including hospice and nursing services.

    “Our patients’ best interests are always a driving factor in our business decisions,” said CEO Jon Enos, in a press release. “And, it is with great confidence and assurance that we have selected Reliable Respiratory to care for our ventilation patients moving forward. We know they will receive the latest technology and the highest quality care. It also feels good to know our vent patients are going from one-family owned company to another.” 

    Reliable Respiratory started in 1991 and has grown from 21 employees and one office to more than 120 employees serving New England from locations in Springfield and Worcester, Mass.; Merrimack, N.H.; White River Junction, Vt.; and South Portland, Maine. Reliable Respiratory offers sleep therapy, ventilation, oxygen, nebulizers and breast pumps.

    CVS-Aetna deal clears major hurdle

    WOONSOCKET, R.I. – The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday approved the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna.

    The deal, which is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter of 2018, is still subject to state regulatory approvals, many of which have been granted, according to a press release.

    "DOJ clearance is an important step toward bringing together the strengths and capabilities of our two companies to improve the consumer health care experience," said CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo. "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the DOJ that maintains the strategic benefits and value creation potential of our combination with Aetna. We are now working to complete the remaining state reviews."

    The deal, first announced in December 2017, has been touted by the companies as a way to increase customer access and create a more personalized healthcare experience. CVS currently operates more than 9,700 pharmacy locations and 1,100 MinuteClinic walk-in clinics.

    Following the close of the transaction, Aetna will operate as a standalone business within the CVS Health enterprise and will be led by members of its current management team.

    AirAvant device receives FDA clearance

    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – AirAvant Medical has received 501(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for its Bongo Rx. Used in the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, the Bongo Rx has been shown to significantly reduce AHI levels, according to a press release. The device is small and portable, and requires no PAP machine, hoses, headgear or electricity; it seals comfortably in the nose and works by creating backpressure when the user exhales. “We recognize that people need to have the ability to treat their sleep apnea comfortably and conveniently, no matter where they are—in a bed, on a train, on a plane, or even catching a quick nap in a chair or on the couch,” said Javier Collazo, vice president. The Bongo Rx will be featured in the New Product Pavilion at Medtrade in Atlanta next week.

    Long-term oxygen therapy: Not so beneficial after all?

    CHICAGO – Long-term oxygen therapy does not decrease the risk of hospitalization or increase life expectancy for patients with mild to moderate COPD, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic. It also may lower their quality of life, according to the study, which was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The most current research indicates that patients with mild to moderate hypoxemia do not benefit from oxygen therapy, outside of a reduced feeling of breathlessness. However, researchers say that measure is subjective and could be a placebo effect. Also, oxygen concentrator systems typically come in a shoulder bag, weighing about 5 pounds—not an insignificant amount of weight for someone who might be frail and easily exhausted. "It is a huge shortcoming of medicine that we still cannot identify which patients will benefit from oxygen therapy," says Dr. Agrwal. "We know some definitely do, but many more are likely not getting any meaningful treatment."

    Respiratory groups issue rallying cry

    CHICAGO – The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, American Lung Association, COPD Foundation and the American Association of Respiratory Care are asking individuals to call their lawmakers and ask them to support a proposed rule from CMS that would increase their access to liquid oxygen. Ever since reduced reimbursement went into effect as part of the competitive bidding program and the number of companies offering liquid oxygen subsequently dwindled, individuals who were on portable liquid oxygen have had difficulty obtaining more tanks. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is also asking CMS to removed liquid oxygen from the bidding process entirely. The foundation has also created a new oxygen information line (844-825-5733) where individuals can call with questions about dosage, different forms, insurance questions and more.

    CMS suspends certain requirements in hurricane’s wake

    WASHINGTON – CMS will temporarily suspend certain requirements for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or sustained damage to the DMEPOS as a result of Hurricane Michael. This will help ensure beneficiaries can access the equipment and supplies they need, according to the announcement. The Category 4 storm made landfall in the Florida Panhandle Oct. 10. Medicare beneficiaries can call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance.

    Hurricane Florence: AvaCare, FODAC, ACHA

    Lakewood, N.J.-based AvaCare Medical recently donated $1 from each order placed during a five-day period in September to the Friends of Disabled Adults and Children’s relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Florence. “With the onset of Hurricane Florence, we understood the need for DME and other products to be sent to emergency shelters, and we were thankful to have the opportunity to give back to our consumers by working with FODAC to promote their cause and partially fund their efforts,” said CEO Steven Zeldes in an email to HME News…Tucker, Ga.-based FODAC and SunTrust Bank have partnered to hold HME collection drives at several locations in north Atlanta on Oct. 20, with some of the equipment earmarked for those recovering from Hurricane Florence. FODAC will refurbish and redistribute the equipment. The collections will take place at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores in Marietta and Lawrenceville, and at NextStep Atlanta in Alpharetta. Equipment that is especially needed includes adaptive strollers, manual and power wheelchairs, and walkers…Cary, N.C.-based Accreditation Commission for Health Care is donating $10,000 to Direct Relief to assist with aid and recovery efforts in response to destruction from Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina. “We stand in full support of our friends, neighbors and caregivers here in the Carolinas who have been affected by this massive storm,” said ACHC President and CEO Jose Domingos. Direct Relief collaborates with clinics all over the world to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medicines and supplies to help care for survivors of disasters who face enormous hardship to recover.

    Award winners: VGM Insurance, NCPA’s Jim Spoon

    Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM Insurance Services has been named one of Business Insurance Magazines’s Best Places to Work for 2018. The award recognizes employers for their outstanding performance in establishing workplaces where employees can thrive, enjoy their work and help their companies grow. Harrisburg, Pa.-based Best Companies Group identifies the leading employers in the insurance industry by assessing each company following an analysis of policies, practices and demographics, as well as a review of confidential employee surveys…Jim Spoon, PharmD, owner of Spoon Drug in Sand Springs, Okla., has been named the National Community Pharmacists Association 2018 Willard B. Simmons Independent Pharmacist of the year. Spoon received the award, sponsored by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, at NCPA’s recent annual convention in Boston. The award recognizes an independent pharmacist for exemplary leadership and commitment to independent pharmacy and their community. It is named in honor or Simmons, a former executive secretary of NCPA and a long-time trustee of the NCPA Foundation.

    Vendors in the news: Invacare, Allegiance

    Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare has extended its Brandville license to continue building out its growing live video program. Invacare uses Brandlive, a platform for interactive video, for live training broadcasts, interactive marketing experiences and clinical education courses. The opportunity for “virtual” CEU courses, in particular, played a major role in Invacare’s decision to renew with Brandville, with the company planning to start offering these courses later this year…Overland Park, Kan.-based Allegiance Group has expanded its IT team with Robert McCabe as CIO. McCabe will work closely with IT and account managers to develop and maintain the strategic roadmap for the company’s products. He has more than 20 years of experience in client services for DST Systems.

    Aeroflow named to top 40 in NC

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has received the North Carolina Mid-Market Fast 40 Award. Each year, the award recognizes 40 businesses in the state that demonstrated sustained revenue and employment growth over the previous three years. Honorees are headquartered in North Carolina and achieve annual net revenues between $10 million and $500 million. In 2017, Aeroflow Healthcare recorded record sales revenue and 17% job growth, and purchased and renovated a 35,000-square-foot distribution facility, called the Hite Fulfillment Center in Asheville. The provider has also been named an Inc. 5000 fastest growing company.

    PFF ramps up education

    CHICAGO – The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has launched a new educational website: AboutPF.org. The website educates individuals about the deadly disease and provides a downloadable Pulmonary Fibrosis Risk List Worksheet to help them facilitate conversations about symptoms and risk factors with their providers. The website also offers a way to find a local pulmonologist with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis through the PFF Care Center Network. More than 200,000 Americans are living with the disease, according to the PFF.


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    10/12/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $135.50 for 2019, a slight increase from $134 in 2018, CMS has announced.

    About 2 million Medicare beneficiaries, however, will pay less than the full Part B standard monthly premium due to the statutory hold harmless provision, which limits certain increases in the Part B premiums for certain Medicare beneficiaries to no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits, CMS says.

    The annual deductible for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $185 in 2019, an increase from $183 in 2018, CMS has also announced.

    Medicare beneficiaries can choose to enroll in fee-for-service Medicare for Parts A and B, or they can select a private Medicare Advantage plan. Last month, CMS announced that, on average, Medicare Advantage premiums will be $28 in 2019, a decrease from $29.81 in 2018.


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    10/18/2018
    HME News Staff

    ATLANTA – Medtrade attendees selected Caire’s FreeStyle Comfort portable oxygen concentrator as this year’s gold winner in the New Product Pavilion.

    Abely’s portable electric recliner, the Abelift, took home silver; and 3B Medical’s CPAP hose cleaner, the Lumin Bullet, took home bronze.

    The winners were announced ahead of the show’s closing bell on Wednesday.

    Stand out Stand Up

    AAHomecare’s Stand Up for Homecare reception raised $45,000 to support industry advocacy efforts, according to the association.

    The Oct. 16 event, held at the SkyLounge at the Glenn Hotel, packed the house.

    Also at the reception, AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan once again recognized Regina Gillispie, 2018 Van Miller Homecare Champion; and Georgie Blackburn, HME Woman of the Year.

    Closing time

    And finally, the show closed on a high note for one attendee: David Ranft, of Derby Industries, based in South Bend, Ind., took home a $5,000 check in a drawing during the show’s closing reception. To qualify, attendees had to have cards stamped by five exhibitors (WellSky, AAHomecare, CareCredit, EVENup and PPM Fulfillment) and be present to win.

    “I’m surprised,” a stunned Ranft told HME News. “I expected my boss to win.”

    Save the date

    Medtrade Spring is scheduled for April 17-19, 2019, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Medtrade 2019 is scheduled for Oct. 21-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.


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    10/19/2018
    Theresa Flaherty

    BARBOURSVILLE, West Va. – Regina Gillispie was already a 20-year veteran of the HME industry when parts of her rural service area were combined with the Ashland, Ky., MSA in Round 2 of competitive bidding. That forced her off the sidelines and to Washington, D.C., in 2009.

    “I didn’t have a choice,” said Gillispie, owner of Best Home Medical in Barboursville, West Virginia, who was named the 2018 Van Miller Homecare Champion at Medtrade last week.“I said, ‘We’ve got to do something,’ and so I just kept going.”

    Gillispie doesn’t get to Washington, D.C. as often as she used to, but she works hard to build and maintain those all-important relationships with lawmakers and their staff. It paid off in July, when all five members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma asking her to address their concerns about the impact of the competitive bidding program in rural areas.

    HME News:How do you manage to sustain strong relationships with lawmakers?

    Regina Gillispie:I treat them like referral sources. I just thought, I’ve got to sell them on us. I’ll send them an email every few weeks. If we get updates from AAHomecare or VGM or HME News about something, I send them copies. They can call me on my cell phone if they hear anything to update me.

    HME:Do you also work on the state level to advocate for the industry?

    Gillispie:We’ve always met with Medicaid when we’ve had problems. So many companies have closed, especially in our rural state, that Medicaid was running into access issues. When Medicare came out with rural rates for competitive bidding we said, “If you don’t want to listen to us, listen to state officials.” It’s nice that we had that relationship and that Medicaid was willing to explain the issues from that side of it.

    HME:With so few providers in your state these days, how do you as a group get your voice heard?

    Gillispie:The providers that are left, when I ask them to help, they have been great. VGM and AAHomecare are a great help. It’s a team effort.


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    10/19/2018
    HME News Staff

    ATLANTA – Medtrade attendees selected Caire’s FreeStyle Comfort portable oxygen concentrator as this year’s gold winner in the New Product Pavilion.

    Abely’s portable electric recliner, the Abelift, took home silver; and 3B Medical’s CPAP hose cleaner, the Lumin Bullet, took home bronze.

    The winners were announced ahead of the show’s closing bell on Wednesday.

    Stand out Stand Up

    AAHomecare’s Stand Up for Homecare reception raised $45,000 to support industry advocacy efforts, according to the association.

    The Oct. 16 event, held at the SkyLounge at the Glenn Hotel, packed the house.

    Also at the reception, AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan once again recognized Regina Gillispie, 2018 Van Miller Homecare Champion; and Georgie Blackburn, HME Woman of the Year.

    Closing time

    And finally, the show closed on a high note for one attendee: David Ranft, of Derby Industries, based in South Bend, Ind., took home a $5,000 check in a drawing during the show’s closing reception. To qualify, attendees had to have cards stamped by five exhibitors (WellSky, AAHomecare, CareCredit, EVENup and PPM Fulfillment) and be present to win.

    “I’m surprised,” a stunned Ranft told HME News. “I expected my boss to win.”

    Save the date

    Medtrade Spring is scheduled for April 17-19, 2019, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Medtrade 2019 is scheduled for Oct. 21-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

    Stakeholders debut online bidding resource

    WASHINGTON  – AAHomecare and other industry groups have rolled out a resource to help providers prepare for the next round of Medicare’s competitive bidding program. A new website, dmecbpeducation.com, brings together information on timelines, requirements and educational opportunities, as well as information on changes for the next round when it becomes available, so providers can make well-informed decisions. The website is a collaboration between AAHomecare, the CQRC, the MED Group, the VGM Group and ResMed.

    Reliable Respiratory expands in southern New England

    NORWOOD, Mass. – Reliable Respiratory has acquired Attleboro, Mass.-based Attleboro Area Medical Equipment. The deal allows Reliable to strengthen its presence in southern New England. “Attleboro Area Medical Equipment has served its community with great loyalty and dedication for more than three decades,” said Eric Mongeau, vice president of sales & marketing for Reliable Respiratory. “We are eager to continue the tradition of excellent patient service that AA Medical Equipment has provided throughout Bristol County.” Reliable has been on a growth spurt: Earlier this month, it acquired the ventilation business of New Bedford, Mass.¬–based Enos Home Medical; and in June, it acquired  Cambridge, Mass.-based Mount Auburn Hospital DME.

    Parent company of GCE Healthcare acquired

    ANNAPOLIS JUNCTION, Md. – GCE Group, the parent company of GCE Healthcare, has been acquired by ESAB Welding & Cutting Products. GCE, with headquarters in Malmo, Sweden, employs more than 900 people and offers solutions for general industrial, healthcare, high-purity, and science and research applications. “The opportunities created by combining GCE with ESAB's global presence and continuous improvement culture will drive both businesses to achieve new heights of success,” said Shyam Kambeyanda, ESAB president, in a release. GCE Healthcare entered the U.S. market in 2016 with a portable oxygen concentrator under the Zen-O brand.

    Stratice integrates with Brightree

    CARMEL, Ind. – Stratice Healthcare has integrated its eOrders Plus into Brightree’s ePrescribe solution to allow HME providers to receive and initiate fully electronic eOrders. Brightree customers will now be able to receive complete eOrders directly from prescribers, and streamline and expedite resupply or renewal orders, according to a press release. “With this latest integration, we are automating and streamlining HME ordering processes that will not only significantly improve efficiencies for providers, but also provide a better overall patient experience,” said Nick Knowlton, Brightree vice president of business development. “There is a tremendous need to digitize these processes.” 

    LifeH2H buys Lab Tactical

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – LifeH2H Solutions has acquired Lab Tactical, a consulting group specializing in HME operations and patient experience. Prior to the acquisition, Lab Tactical was independently owned and operated by Anna and Ryan McDevitt. The McDevitts, along Nimesh Patel, will join the LifeH2H team as LifeLab, a division of the company dedicated to mapping and documenting business processes, refining patient education experiences and developing data-driven models to support positive clinical outcomes, according to a press release. LifeLab’s first goal at LifeH2H: Make the transition from the hospital to home a positive experience for the patient and a profitable transaction for the health system. “This space between the hospital and the home—where patients clinical care is often compromised—is complex and disjointed but has bred new opportunities to improve outcomes and expand the role of HME providers in their markets like never before,” said Dewey Roof, owner of LifeH2H, based here. Anna McDevitt is now director of customer experience; Ryan McDevitt, director of professional services; and Patel, implementation manager. LifeLab will remain based in Atlanta.

    MAMES shatters records

    WELCH, Minn. – MAMES shattered previous records for sponsorships at its MAMES Excellence in HME Conference at Treasure Island Resort and Casino on Oct. 3-5. The event drew 36 sponsors, a 38% increase over last year’s fall event and a 106% increase over this spring’s event, says Rose Schafhauser, executive director. The increase in sponsorships allowed the association to pass on “significant registration savings” to attendees, resulting in a 20% increase in the number of companies represented and a 24% increase in attendance for the education and display hall. “I continue to be amazed and motivated by the dedication and determination of our members to continue to learn, share and change their business models to succeed in these turbulent times,” Schafhauser said. 

    Soleo taps industry vet as COO

    MCKINNEY, Texas – Soleo Health has named Ron Lindahl as chief operating officer. Lindahl has more than three decades worth of experience in specialty pharmacy and home infusion, most recently as chief technology office at Axelacare Health Solution. Prior to that, he held positions at Accredo Health and Critical Care Systems. “In my new position, the focus will be on the Company’s continued commitment to providing an excellent clinical experience for our patients and ability to best leverage technology to improve productivity,” said Lindahl in a press release. Soleo Health provides specialty home and alternate site infusion services through locations in 19 states and holds pharmacy licensure in all 50 states.

    J & B Medical delivers HME to those in need

    NICEVILLE, Fla. – J & B Medical has been pitching in to help those in the Florida Panhandle who have been affected by Hurricane Michael, the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. Kim Wonsick, vice president and compliance officer, told HME News this week that the company was bringing oxygen concentrators, wheelchairs, walkers and other general items to area hospitals per their requests. J & B has given out all of its hospital beds; it has ordered more, but they are already spoken for. “Facilities in our local area are desperately needing hospital beds, but with all the cuts from Medicare in the last few years, not many companies carry them anymore, which is now a problem in our area,” she said. “They supply is limited.” J & B had help from Allen and Shelli Brown and their trailer to deliver equipment and supplies.

    VGM calls for speakers

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM is accepting proposals from prospective speakers for its annual Heartland Conference. With eight education tracks to fill, conference organizers are looking for presenters to offer their expertise on a variety of topics, including business leadership and management, retail, operations, sales and marketing, home accessibility, technology and regulatory issues. The conference takes place June 10-12 at the corporate headquarters of VGM. 

    The Safety Sleeper now sold through Numotion

    PITTSBURGH – Abram’s Nation, a manufacturer of products for the special needs community, says The Safety Sleeper has been added to Numotion’s lineup of products. The Safety Sleeper is a safe, fully enclosed bed system for children and adults with special needs for daily and travel use. “This product can help prevent unattended wandering, reduce visual stimulation and provide peace of mind for caregivers and customers,” said John Pryles, senior vice president of sales at Numotion. Rose Morris, a mom of three children, including an autistic son, Abram, launched Abram’s in 2010. The company’s expanding product line also includes the Fidget Folder, a sensory therapy product; Weight Mate, a weighted lap pad; and Abram’s Wearables.

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  • 10/23/18--07:38: CMS expands phone demo
  • 10/23/2018
    HME News Staff

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – CMS will expand a demonstration project that allows HME providers to speak with reconsideration professionals by phone to try and resolve their cases to jurisdictions A and B on Nov. 1.

    The agency cited “strong support from the supplier community and the initial success of the demonstration” as reasons to expand the phone demo.

    “Effective on or after Nov. 1, the DME QIC will offer telephone discussions and/or re-openings to DME suppliers within the DME MAC Jurisdictions A and B for all DME claim types, except claims for glucose/diabetic testing strip supplies and claims or suppliers that are already involved in another CMS initiative (e.g. prior authorization for power mobility devices),” CMS states in an announcement. “If selected and offered a telephone discussion, supplier participation remains voluntary. Current demonstration activities conducted within Jurisdictions C and D will continue as is.”

    The phone demo removed some 81,000 claims from the backlog at the administrative law judge level in 2017 and as of September has removed 98,000 more claims in 2018, according to AAHomecare, a strong supporter.

    CMS has slowly been expanding the phone demo. In 2016, it opened the demo to all product categories, except power mobility devices, in jurisdictions C and D.

    C2C Innovative Solutions, the contractor running the phone demo as part of its gig as the Qualified Independent Contractor for HME, is currently appealing CMS’s decision to switch the contract to Maximus.


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    Be on the lookout for correspondence from C2C Innovative Solutions, with demonstration in subject line
    10/26/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    WASHINGTON – Christmas has come early for HME providers who have disputed Medicare claims.

    CMS announced last week that it plans to expand a demonstration project—one that allows providers to speak with reconsideration professionals by phone to try to resolve their denied claims; or re-open denied claims that are stuck at the administrative law judge level—to jurisdictions A and B on Nov. 1.

    “We’ve been waiting for this with baited breadth,” said Andrea Stark, a reimbursement consultant with MiraVista. “We knew it has been a successful demo, but this expansion underscores that success and the volume of claims it has been able to remove from the backlog at the ALJ.”

    The demo, which launched in 2016, was able to re-open and remove some 81,000 appeals from the backlog in 2017 and is poised to re-open and remove more than 100,000 in 2018.

    C2C Innovative Solutions, which runs the demo as the Qualified Independent Contractor for HME, says it will be ready to flip the switch in jurisdictions A and B on Nov. 1. It helps that the contractor has established relationships with the two DME MACs that cover all four jurisdictions.

    “We already have good communications with Noridian Healthcare Solutions and CGS Administrators for jurisdictions C and D, and we already deal with a larger quantity of claims in those jurisdictions,” said Emily Barnes, education and outreach specialist for the demo at C2C Innovative Solutions. “We’re adequately staffed; we’re ready to go.”

    One thing C2C Innovative Solutions is ramping up: its education efforts. The contractor is reaching out to state associations in jurisdictions A and B to get them to help get the word out about the demo.

    “It does take some education,” Barnes said. “In 2016, we were seeing only 30% of our letters asking for re-openings returned. That’s gone up to 65%.”

    Unlike in jurisdictions C and D, where the demo initially applied only to claims for oxygen and diabetes supplies, it will apply to all claims in jurisdictions A and B, except for diabetes supplies (and claims involved in other initiatives, like prior authorization for power mobility devices).

    “I think CMS thinks that the denial rate is so high for diabetes supplies that it needs another initiative to really address it,” Barnes said. “So we do understand why.”
    Going forward, Stark says she’d like to see other contractors given the same “latitude” that C2C Innovative Solutions has been given to re-examine denied claims.

    “It would be nice if that discretion they’ve been given would extend to the lower level of appeal, so it doesn’t even have to get to that level to begin with,” she said. “That would really make the process go faster.”

    While C2C Innovative Solutions is still waiting to hear about the fate of the QIC contract for HME—it successfully appealed CMS’s decision to award the contract to Maximus—CMS’s expansion of the demo should bode well for the contractor.

    “We thought CMS would have taken care of that before expanding the demo, but we’re happy they’ve expanded the demo and we’re hoping for the best,” Barnes said.

     


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    10/26/2018
    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – A new initiative underway at CMS would make it easier for healthcare providers to look up documentation requirements, agency officials said during an Oct. 23 Special Open Door Forum.

    The Medicare Documentation Requirement Lookup Service, still in the prototype phase, would pull together existing requirements, which are currently scattered among various manuals, National Coverage Determinations and Local Coverage Determinations, and present them in a machine-readable format within the electronic health record, according to CMS.

    For example, a physician ordering home oxygen therapy for a patient would log into their EHR system to learn whether there are prior authorization and/or documentation requirements. The DLRS would show there is no PA requirement but that there are documentation requirements and would provide those requirements, along with any related templates.

    At some point in the future, CMS officials said, they hope those templates could be prepopulated with information already contained in the medical record, such as lab results, so that they don’t need to be constantly re-entered.

    CMS is currently recruiting EHR vendors, providers and health plans to participate in the DLRS pilot.

    While all providers are welcome, CMS officials said they think the providers that will be most interested in participating in the pilot are ordering providers, like physicians, as opposed to DMEPOS suppliers who they say already know that the rules are and don’t need to look them up.

    However, during a question-and-answer period, officials fielded several calls from DMEPOS suppliers, with one caller stating that the program would be “very beneficial” to his organization.


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    10/26/2018
    HME News Staff

    NEW YORK and ATLANTA ­– Parachute Health’s e-prescribing platform will be integrated into Brightree’s cloud-based software, improving the ordering and fulfillment process for HME providers, the two companies say.

    The integration means providers will be able to connect orders received from Parachute’s e-prescribing platform directly into Brightree’s claim management/billing software, reducing costs and increasing revenues, according to an announcement.

    “This relationship will solve multiple pain points for HME providers and referring physicians alike, such as gaining efficiencies through automation, reduced paperwork and improved overall patient care,” said Nick Knowlton, vice president of business development at Brightree.

    Prior to the integration, providers had to manually send and process orders and related documentation, and communicate via phone or email with their referral sources, according to the announcement.

    Post-integration, providers will be able to connect digitally with referral facilities, allowing them to online chat with their referral sources and provide them with automated delivery status updates.

    “The unmatched connectivity that Brightree offers, combined with Parachute’s intuitive system, creates a seamless, end-to-end experience for healthcare facilities to fulfill any order,” said David Gelbard, CEO and founder of Parachute Health.

    PlayMaker, Brightree integrate for improved CRM

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Referral data from Brightree will be seamlessly integrated into PlayMaker as the result of a new strategic relationship between the two companies. The result: “powerful performance analytics to inform strategic decision-making,” according to a press release. “Providers know the key to remaining competitive and surviving in today’s volatile market lies in their ability to access the right business intelligence,” said John Griscavage, CEO of PlayMaker Health. “We are fortunate to partner with them and empower post-acute organizations with the market, referral and sales intelligence they need to support strategic growth initiatives and drive profitability.” PlayMaker combines in-depth and timely market and referral data with customer relationship management tools to improve visibility and market performance for post-acute care providers.

    ResMed wins in German court

    SAN DIEGO – A trial court ruling from the Munich District Court says the headgear used on two CPAP masks from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare—the Simplus full-face and Eson nasal—infringes a ResMed patent in Germany. In a separate decision, the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office had already stated the patent asserted against F&P is valid, according to a press release from ResMed. F&P may appeal both decisions. Earlier this year, ResMed filed a new petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking an order banning the import and sale of F&P’s Simplus full-face, Eson nasal and Eson 2 nasal masks for allegedly infringing on five ResMed patents related to masks system and cushion design. F&P countered with its own complaint with the ITC, seeking an exclusion order to prevent the import and sale in the United States of ResMed’s AirFit P10, AirFit P10 for Her and AirFit P10 for AirMini masks for allegedly infringing five F&P patents.

    NSM expands in metro NYC area

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has acquired Rehabco in Bronx, N.Y. Five ATPs will transition to NSM and the location will also serve as a centralized service and repair center, according to a press release. “Rehabco has been a respected provider of rehab services in the community for more than 40 years,” said Bill Mixon, NSM CEO in a press release. “We are proud to welcome this experienced group to NSM.” NSM also has branches in the metro New York area in Garden City, Plainview and Fairfield, N.J.; and branches in Albany and Buffalo, N.Y.

    Cooley Medical settles allegations

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Cooley Medical Equipment has agreed to pay more than $5.2 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by misrepresenting the ingredients it used in certain compounded medical creams. The Prestonburg, Ky.-based provider previously operated a pharmacy that made compounded creams and billed government insurers like Medicare, Kentucky Medicaid, Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Health Administration for them. Instead of obtaining the required prior authorizations to use bulk powder forms of Lidocaine and Prilocaine, the company falsely stated the creams were made with cream-based ingredients. Cooley Medical self-disclosed this to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, took steps to resolve the problem and no longer operates a compounding pharmacy.

    Specialty Rx group names Jose Domingos to board

    CARY, N.C. – The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) has named Jose Domingos, president and CEO of the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), to its board of directors. ACHC, which launched a Pharmacy Accreditation program in 1996, has more than 900 pharmacies accredited in the United States. “Jose joins a diverse group of experienced and accomplished healthcare veterans tasked with elevating the practice of specialty pharmacy, promoting the education and certification of specialty pharmacists, and advocating for public policies that ensure patients have appropriate access to specialty medications and receive high quality, high touch patient care and support services,” said Sheila Arquette, executive director of NASP. NASP, whose members include independent specialty pharmacies, has more than 100 corporate members and 1,200 individual members.

    CareCentrix re-ups accreditation

    HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has earned URAC accreditation in health utilization management, demonstrating a comprehensive commitment to quality care, improved processes and better patient outcomes, according to a press release. “The accreditation recognizes our commitment to patients, providers and payers, and inspires us to continue to build a better healthcare system that recognizes the value of home care, and delivers reduced costs of care and lower readmissions through the use of innovative technology,” said John Driscoll, CEO. CareCentrix has held the accreditation since 2009. The company connects patients with the care they need at home, including home health, DME, home infusion and sleep and care management services, through a network of more than 8,000 credentialed provider locations.

    New leadership: Fisher & Paykel, BioScrip

    Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has appointed Lyndal York CFO. She will join the company in March 2019 and will report to CEO Lewis Gradon. York is currently CFO at Asaleo Care, a Melbourne, Australia-based company that manufactures, markets, distributes and sells consumer products across the feminine care, incontinence care, baby care, consumer tissue and professional hygiene product categories. York replaces long-time CFO Tony Barclay, who retired in May. Andrea Blackie will continue serving as acting CFO until York joins the company, then she will resume her role as general manager-finance…BioScrip has appointed John McMahon vice president, controller and chief accounting officer. McMahon is a certified public accountant with more than 25 years of accounting and finance experience. His prior experience includes chief financial officer at Heska Corp. and corporate controller at Advanced Energy Industries.

    Pride, Quantum mentor students

    DURYEA, Pa. – Pride Mobility Products and Quantum Rehab hosted a mentoring day for students with disabilities at a company facility on Oct. 18, as part of Disability Mentoring Day. Participants met with professionals to learn about typical job responsibilities, and the knowledge and skills needed for specific vocations. They also toured the production area and saw a new, expanded test lab. “Our plan is to continue to be a very friendly company,” said Scott Meuser, chairman and CEO, in a press release. “We’re always trying to make products that make a difference in people’s lives.”

     


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    11/01/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS has released the anxiously awaited DMEPOS/ESRD Final Rule—without increasing payment amounts in former competitive bidding areas during the gap period.

    “We believe that the CY 2019 ESRD PPS DMEPOS proposed rule, which we are finalizing, will result in adequate fee schedule amounts given that the SPAs that the adjusted fees are based on are the same amounts that have been used to adjust the fee schedule amounts for non-rural non-CBAs since Jan. 1, 2017,” the agency stated in the rule. “We believe that adjusting fees based on maximum winning bids would result in excessive payments.”

    Industry stakeholders recommended that CMS establish rates in the former CBAs at the current SPA rates but provide an increase to those rates by all the CPI-U increases from 2013 through 2018. It also argued for applying 50-50 blended rates not only in rural and non-contiguous areas from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2020, but also in the remaining non-bid areas.

    The process for re-competing bid contracts has not been initiated and CMS expects the resulting gap period to last until Dec. 31, 2020.

    The rule also finalizes the Medicare fee schedule payments for DME furnished on after Jan. 1, 2019 in areas of the country where competitive bidding is not in effect.

    “The rule finalized today makes innovative changes to the Medicare payment rules for the durable medical equipment and end-stage renal disease programs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a press release. “It also helps to ensure continued access to durable medical equipment and makes significant improvements to our competitive bidding system.”


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    11/02/2018
    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – The lack of substantial changes in the competitive bidding-related final rule likely comes down to cost, say HME industry stakeholders.

    “The challenge has all along been the cost,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “I think the political appointees at the agency wanted to do more but were restricted by cost. Cost is everything.”

    The final rule, released Nov. 1, did not include two areas of additional relief requested by the industry: an extension of the 50/50 blended reimbursement rates to all non-bid areas, and the application of CPI adjustments to rates in bid areas retroactively from 2008-13.

    Ryan says it’s going to be tough for providers to hold on long enough for CMS to make changes to the program, including implementing maximum winning bids and lead-item pricing, that could help to stabilize reimbursement.

    “We’ve got providers in non-bid, non-rural areas sitting on the financial edge, and it’s going to be very difficult without getting some immediate relief for those providers,” he said.

    Stakeholders will regroup with lawmakers after Tuesday’s elections to see what opportunities and obstacles might arise as the result of changes in Congress. One big question: the fate of H.R. 4229. Spearheaded by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the bill currently has 156 co-sponsors.

    “We need to take a look at it and modify it because of the rule,” said Ryan. “We need to see if we can’t move that through committee and get a score. All this needs to be done.”

    The lack of additional relief in the final rule raises concerns that access issues will increase after the current contracts expire Dec. 31 and an any-willing-provider provision goes into effect. Providers will no longer be obligated to take patients at such low rates.

    “We need to monitor those potential access issues in a much more comprehensive way, since it is unclear how CMS is going to monitor that,” said Cara Bachenheimer, chair of the government affairs practice at Brown & Fortunato. “We are discussing with CMS the need to be much more diligent in figuring out what is going on in those former bid areas.”

    At the same time, stakeholders are rolling up their sleeves to make sure the next round of bidding includes their input. They will have their work cut out for them. CMS is already seeking comments on three new product categories to add to the program: off-the-shelf back braces, off-the-shelf knee braces and ventilators.

    “We are hoping to work with CMS on a lot of the sub-regulatory decisions, like the details of the product categories,” Bachenheimer said.


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    11/02/2018
    HME News Staff

    SEATTLE – Arcadia Group has launched an Amazon-exclusive brand of consumer-use medical devices for diabetes and hypertension management.

    The Choice brand will start with a range of blood glucose and blood pressure monitors, both with supporting mobile apps offering tracking, data mobility and reminders.

    “The Choice brand is all about accessible wellness,” said Bob Guest, CEO of Arcadia Group. “Consumers no longer need to drive to a store to stand in line and purchase their medical devices and supplies. Now, in the privacy of their home, consumers can review, compare and purchase the products of their choice. No insurance is required. Therefore, customers have the freedom of choice. They will no longer be told by their insurance company what brand they can by. Choice is freedom.”

    Arcadia has experience in brand development within the diabetes and cardiovascular markets as the original architect of Walmart’s ReliOn brand and Abbott’s Freestyle brand.

    Over time, Arcadia Group plans to incorporate voice-driven measurement interpretations, as well as individualized wellness recommendations.

    “This is all possible with Alexa and will provide patients with a wellness experience not available until now,” Guest said.

    Apria goes nat’l with Medela’s NPWT line
    MCHENRY, Ill., and LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Medela has announced that Apria Healthcare will begin distributing its negative pressure wound therapy product line nationwide.

    Per the terms of the agreement, Apria will expand its wound care portfolio to include the full line of Medela’s negative pressure wound therapy products, including its Invia NPWT System with FitPad.

    “By offering a united front, these two companies can help remove the complexities that occur in coordinating patient care from hospital to home, providing wider access to Medela’s leading technology nationwide,” said Kevin Ackerman, vice president of healthcare for Medela USA.

    Apria will offer the products through its more than 300 branches and its nearly 1,900 commercial payers and preferred provider agreements with integrated health systems across the country.

    Medela’s proprietary wound care system features intelligent pressure control and dynamic exudate removal, and can be used in both the acute and homecare settings, according to a press release.

    “We believe our patients, prescribers and healthcare providers will immediately see the benefit of using the Invia NPWT system with FitPad in both the acute care and homecare space, and of having Apria’s dedicated sales team assist in safely getting these patients back home and coordinating their ongoing care,” said Jeff Johnson, vice president of business development for Apria.

    CMS finalizes temporary payment for infusion services
    WASHINGTON – CMS has finalized a rule that includes a temporarily transitional payment for home infusion services, and implements a new home infusion therapy benefit.

    The rule, originally published in July, implements the transition payments effective Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2020, prior to a new permanent home infusion therapy services beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. The temporary payments, required by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, address a payment gap created by the 21st Century Cures Act.

    The final rule also establishes health and safety standard for home infusion providers as part of a new infusion therapy service benefit, and establishes the approval and oversight process for accrediting organizations of these providers, as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. CMS states that is it seeking further comments on its interpretation of “infusion drug administration calendar day” and its potential effects on access to care.

    Industry stakeholders have expressed concerns about this interpretation, which they say doesn’t take into consideration how infusion drugs are typically administered. Specifically, the agency wants to require a nurse to be present on the days when a drug is administered in the home to receive payment, but it is not uncommon for infusion drugs to be administered without a nurse, they say.

    "At a time when private payers, Congress, and beneficiaries are seeking to modernize health care delivery, the final home infusion rule doubles down on the payment policy of yesteryear," said Bill Noyes, interim executive vice president for the National Home Infusion Association. "Unfortunately, the result will be more hospitalizations and nursing home visits for beneficiaries, and a higher bill for the taxpayer."

    In a press release, BioScrip the largest independent provider of home infusion services, said it disagrees with the CMS’s interpretation.

    “Based on CMS’s final rule, we are evaluating the future treatment of Medicare beneficiaries, while also considering next possible steps to ensure this new transitional benefit is implemented as Congress intended,” said Dan Greenleaf, president and CEO.

    AAHomecare submits comments on anti-kickback statute
    WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has submitted comments on the anti-kickback statute to the Office of Inspector General. The association suggested a new OIG safe harbor that addresses a supplier disclosing in advance when it will waive or reduce a patient’s co-payment obligation. “If a patient’s income is at or below 300% of the federal poverty level, then the patient’s obligation will be automatically waived and if the patient’s income is above that threshold, the provider will gather financial information and then decide as to whether the provider will waive or reduce copayment.” AAHomecare also suggested the OIG relax the “60-40 Tests,” which state that to form a join venture, not more than 40% of the joint venture can be owned by a party that is in the position to refer to or transact business with the joint venture, and not more than 40% of the business generated by the joint venture can come from one of the parties in the joint venture. When one of the parties of the joint venture is a referral source, it is impossible to comply with the 60-40 tests, the association stated. The comments are in response to a request for information from the OIG on the “Medicare and State Health Care Programs: Fraud and Abuse; Request for information Regarding the Anti-Kickback Statute and Beneficiary Inducements CMP.”

    AAH releases scorecard
    WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has created a downloadable election scorecard that allows users to track lawmaker support for the HME industry. The spreadsheet also notes who is seeking re-lection, retiring or has resigned. Of the 67 legislators who are not running for re-election, 32 took at least one action to support the industry, like co-sponsoring legislation or adding their signatures to sign-on letters, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare. The scorecard is available as an Excel spreadsheet or PDF.

    ResMed becomes platinum sponsor
    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has stepped up its support of AAHomecare, moving from a gold-level to a platinum level corporate partner—the highest sponsorship level for the association. “ResMed is committed to working with our partners on sustainable reimbursement programs that maximize patient access to home oxygen, PAP and other life-changing out-of-hospital therapies,” said Larissa D’Andrea, ResMed senior director of government affairs. “We’re encouraged by the progress made on competitive bidding reform—this great work must continue.” ResMed recently collaborated with AAHomecare and other industry groups on a new online bidding resource.

    FDA approves FreeStyle app
    ABBOTT PARK, Ill. – The FreeStyle LibreLink app has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the iPhone, according to a press release from Abbott. The app allows user to capture and view real-time glucose levels. It also includes a series of in-app reports that visualize blood glucose trends and patterns. The free app will be available for download in the coming weeks and will be able to pair with the FreeStyle Libre or FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensors. The Android version is currently under development.

    Aeroflow names RN to lead new division
    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has tapped Michelle Worley, a registered nurse, to manage its new pulmonary division. Formerly the company’s sleep division, Aeroflow Pulmonary incorporates more products and services, such as ventilation and the AffloVest mobile airway clearance therapy. Prior to this role, Worley was Aeroflow’s clinical operations manager, responsible for leading the clinician’s team. “Michelle’s experience with Aeroflow and as a registered nurse makes her ideal to lead the pulmonary unit to new levels of success,” said Vaughn Williams, director of business operations. “Her leadership will be critical in improving our processes and efficiencies, and incorporating new equipment to advance Aeroflow’s mission of improving the quality of life for more patients.”

    CleveMed secures patent for sleep data analytics tool
    CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Medical Devices has been issued a new patent that covers “technologies that enable data transfer from home sleep apnea therapy (CPAP) to the cloud through software apps on a patient’s cell phones or other personal smart devices like wearables.” “There is a tremendous need to allow healthcare providers and patients easy access to therapy efficacy data, especially long-term,” said Hani Kayyali, CEO. “This will not only permit healthcare providers a deeper understanding of a patient’s response to therapy through larger data integration, but also give patients easy access to their own data to improve engagement with therapy.” CleveMed says the patent is “one in a long line of patents” that will establish the company as a leader in “data acquisition from the home for patients suffering from chronic sleep disorders.” CleveMed’s most recent addition to its product lineup: SleepView Insight, a quarterly report that offers summaries on HST data, including demographics, screening results, disease severity, co-morbidities, turnaround times and study completion rates. The company is currently offering a free pilot of the tool.

    Numotion buys Medsource’s complex rehab division
    BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has acquired the complex rehab technology division of Medsource, extending its reach and capabilities in Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho. Medsource, which has been in business since 1989, provides custom mobility products to thousands of consumers across the region, according to a press release. “Medsource has a unique model that has been highly successful,” said Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. “We are excited to learn from this team and look forward to applying their knowledge to positively impact and serve many more customers in the region.” Sixty-six Medsource employees will join Numotion.

    McKesson gets new CEO
    SAN FRANCISCO – McKesson Corp. has announced that John Hammergren, chairman and CEO, will retire March 31. The company’s board of directors has unanimously selected Brian Tyler, currently president and COO, to succeed Hammergren as CEO, effective April 1. Tyler will remain president. Edward Mueller, currently the lead independent director on McKesson’s board, will succeed Hammergren as independent chairman of the board, also effective April 1. In the time since Hammergren became CEO in 2001, the company has more than quadrupled revenues to $208 billion; expanded into global markets; and advanced to No. 6 on the Fortune 500, reflecting shareholder returns of more than 400% or 9% on a compound annual basis. Harvard Business Review named him one of their 100 “Top Performing CEOs in the World.”

    Synergy launches mobile app for wound care management
    SAN DIEGO – Synergy Wound Technology has launched InteliWound, a mobile, cloud-first, software-as-a-service app that it says reduces wound care costs. The app allows licensed clinicians to perform more efficient and uniform wound measurements, assessments, documentation and product/supply ordering—all during a home visit. Powered by a scalable platform build on Amazon Web Services, the app provides: precision, touchless, volumetric measurements by way of a 3D camera; guided, easy-to-understand, clinically proven wound assessments; treatment plan suggestions with application instructions; wound supply recommendations and/or DME; an optional marketplace; and more. Synergy Wound Technology is a tech-driven product development company that specializes in wound management, prevention and early evaluation.


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    ‘Suppliers can’t wait for the more sustainable rates that we expect from future rounds of an improved bidding program. They need relief now,’ says AAH’s Tom Ryan
    11/02/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS appears to have done little to change its competitive bidding-related rule from the time it was proposed in July until it was finalized on Nov. 1.

    Despite myriad concerns raised by HME industry stakeholders, the agency did not extend 50/50 blended reimbursement rates to all non-bid areas; and it did not apply CPI adjustments to rates in bid areas retroactively from 2008-13.

    “While I believe that CMS is making a smart decision in pausing the bidding program to work on additional fixes, I’m disappointed that the agency is allowing pricing generated under this flawed program to stay in place until the next bidding round,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan in a statement. “Suppliers can’t wait for the more sustainable rates that we expect from future rounds of an improved bidding program. They need relief now.”

    The final rule, like the proposed rule, implements a gap period from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2020, whereby any Medicare-enrolled provider can supply DMEPOS until new contracts are awarded under the next round of the program. The rule also establishes a new method for determining single payment amounts using maximum winning bids and lead-item pricing.

    The fight isn’t over, Ryan says. Stakeholders will rely on the same “exceptional grassroots efforts” from providers, state association partners and other stakeholders as they press for more relief* for providers in bid and non-bid areas before the next round of the program, he says.

    “We’ve strengthened our capacity to get Capitol Hill educated and engaged on our policy priorities, which has been critical in convincing regulators to take a close look at the bidding program,” he said.

    The final rule also creates a new class for portable liquid oxygen equipment by splitting the existing class of portable gas and portable liquid oxygen, and changes the way budget neutrality is calculated by applying the offset to all oxygen and oxygen equipment classes beginning Jan. 1.

    Despite the absence of added relief in the final rule, as stakeholders had requested, CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated in a press release: “Based on many comments we received on our DME proposal from suppliers, manufacturers and their associations—all of whom supported our proposals—we are implementing market-oriented reforms to Medicare’s DMEPOS competitive bidding program that also reduce burden on suppliers by simplifying the bidding process.”


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    11/07/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – A number of champions for the HME industry, including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., have won their re-election bids in Congress.

    McMorris-Rodgers, who bested her Democratic contender Lisa Brown, has led a number of efforts to provide relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program, including introducing H.R. 4229, which has 157 co-sponsors. She has also spearheaded a number of congressional sign-on letters to CMS requesting relief.

    A number of champions for complex rehab have also won re-election. Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., who introduced H.R. 3730, a bill to stop CMS from applying bid-related cuts to accessories for complex manual wheelchairs, came out on top. As did Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who introduced H.R. 750, a bill to create a separate benefit for complex rehab.

    However, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who has also supported the industry’s fight against the bid program, lost to her Republican contender Kevin Cramer. In 2015, Heitkamp joined Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in introducing a bill to soften the blow of the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding pricing on Jan. 1, 2016. Thune was not up for re-election.

    The industry also has at least one new champion in the making: Dan Meuser, the former president of Pride Mobility Products, who won a bid to represent Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district. Dan Meuser left Pride in 2008 to pursue a career in public service. His brother, Scott Meuser, is the chairman/CEO of the company.


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    11/07/2018
    HME News Staff

    GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen reported $95.3 million in total revenue for the third quarter of 2018, a 38% increase over the same period last year.

    Net income was $16.4 million vs. $7.3 million.

    “The third quarter was another successful quarter for us as we generated strong revenue across all three sales channels,” said CEO Scott Wilkinson. “We are continuing to execute on our strategy to hire additional sales reps and invest in advertising activities to increase consumer awareness as we believe this is still our most effective means to drive high revenue growth and POC adoption.”

    Breaking down revenue, sales and rentals were $89.7 million (up 42.1%) vs. $5.6 million (down 5.3%), respectively.

    Inogen has increased its full year 2018 guidance for total revenue to $345 million to $355 million, representing growth of 38.3% to 42.3% compared to 2017.

    The company also provided full year 2019 guidance for total revenue of $430 million to $440 million, representing 22.9% to 25.7% growth compared to 2018 guidance mid-point of $350 million.

    BioScrip 3Q revenues decrease

    DENVER – BioScrip today reported third quarter revenues of $180.9 million, down from $198.7 million for the same period last year. Net loss from continuing operations was $8.1 million, a $5 million improvement. Adjusted EBITDA was $16.4 million, a 25% increase. “BioScrip achieved record third quarter adjusted EBITDA driven by revenue growth, higher gross profit margin, and ongoing operating expense discipline,” said Daniel Greenleaf, president and CEO. “We delivered comparable revenue growth for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2015.” The company increased its 2018 full year guidance to between $710 million and $720 million in revenue.

    VieMed sees continued growth

    LAFAYETTE, La. – VieMed reported revenues of $17.2 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 38% compared to the same quarter in 2017. It’s the third consecutive quarter the company has seen double-digit revenue growth. The company grew its ventilator patient count by approximately 35%. Gross margin was $13.1 million, and adjusted EBITDA was about $4.4 million. Casey Hoyt said the company and industry are experiencing “positive momentum” in the wake of its study with KPMG. “The runway is set for continued growth, which will allow us to bring our first-class care to many more patients in need across the country,” he said in a press release.


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    11/09/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – A number of champions for the HME industry, including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., have won their re-election bids in Congress.

    McMorris-Rodgers, who bested her Democratic contender Lisa Brown, has led a number of efforts to provide relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program, including introducing H.R. 4229, which has 157 co-sponsors. She has also spearheaded a number of congressional sign-on letters to CMS requesting relief.

    A number of champions for complex rehab have also won re-election. Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., who introduced H.R. 3730, a bill to stop CMS from applying bid-related cuts to accessories for complex manual wheelchairs, came out on top. As did Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who introduced H.R. 750, a bill to create a separate benefit for complex rehab.

    However, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who has also supported the industry’s fight against the bid program, lost to her Republican contender Kevin Cramer. In 2015, Heitkamp joined Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in introducing a bill to soften the blow of the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding pricing on Jan. 1, 2016. Thune was not up for re-election.

    The industry also has at least one new champion in the making: Dan Meuser, the former president of Pride Mobility Products, who won a bid to represent Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district. Dan Meuser left Pride in 2008 to pursue a career in public service. His brother, Scott Meuser, is the chairman/CEO of the company.

    Group: Final rule didn’t go far enough on liquid oxygen

    WASHINGTON – A group of patient and physician groups has expressed its disappointment that CMS did not carve out liquid oxygen from its competitive bidding program in a recently released final rule. “Despite CMS’s acknowledgement of the problems facing patients, especially those who require liquid oxygen, we are disappointed that the administration chose not to use its full statutory authority to ensure that all patients who require supplemental oxygen receive the treatment they need, or even respond to our specific and united recommendations to make these needed reforms,” the group stated. Instead, the rule creates a new class for portable liquid oxygen equipment by splitting the existing class of portable gas and portable liquid oxygen, and increases the payment amount for the new class of portable liquid oxygen equipment so that it is the same as the payment amount for oxygen generating portable equipment. Going forward, the group, which includes the American Association for Respiratory Care, American Lung Association and American Thoracic Society, says it plans to work closely with CMS and Congress to ensure both the clinical and quality of life needs of its patients are met and their concerns addressed. “CMS must closely monitor these patients, as well as suppliers, during this gap period and be prepared to change course and use its full statutory authority if patient needs are not met,” the group states. “If they are not, Congress must be prepared to intervene.”

    Rehab Medical buys Family Medical Supply

    INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical has acquired Family Medical Supply in Oklahoma, expanding the complex rehab provider’s footprint to 14 states. Family Medical Supply has been in business for more than 30 years and operates two locations in Oklahoma City and Kingston. “Rehab Medical is excited to expand into the state of Oklahoma,” said Kevin Gearheart, president. “Family Medical Supply is a well-respected business that shares a number of our values, with a strong emphasis on improving the lives of those we serve.” Twenty-one employees at Family Medical Supply, including two ATPs, will join Rehab Medical’s team. Rehab Medical operates in 22 major metropolitan markets. Earlier this year, the Indianapolis Business Journal named the provider one of the city’s Top 25 Fastest Growing Companies.

    ResMed expands software portfolio

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held MatrixCare, a provider of long-term, post-acute care software, for $750 million. MatrixCare serves more than 15,000 providers across skilled nursing, life plan communities, senior living and private duty. “The acquisition of MatrixCare is an excellent addition to the out-of-hospital software portfolio that we can offer our healthcare provider customers,” said ResMed CEO Mick Farrell. ResMed already owns Brightree and HEALTHCAREfirst, which serve HME, home health and hospice providers. For calendar year 2018, MatrixCare pro forma net revenue is estimated to be about $122 million, with a pro forma EBITDA of about $30 million, making the deal’s price tag a valuation multiple of 25 times. ResMed will fund the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of its fiscal year 2019, primarily with its credit facility.

    Earnings season: BioScrip, VieMed

    DENVER – BioScrip today reported third quarter revenues of $180.9 million, down from $198.7 million for the same period last year. Net loss from continuing operations was $8.1 million, a $5 million improvement. Adjusted EBITDA was $16.4 million, a 25% increase. “BioScrip achieved record third quarter adjusted EBITDA driven by revenue growth, higher gross profit margin, and ongoing operating expense discipline,” said Daniel Greenleaf, president and CEO. “We delivered comparable revenue growth for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2015.” The company increased its 2018 full year guidance to between $710 million and $720 million in revenue.

    VieMed sees continued growth

    LAFAYETTE, La. – VieMed reported revenues of $17.2 million for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 38% compared to the same quarter in 2017. It’s the third consecutive quarter the company has seen double-digit revenue growth. The company grew its ventilator patient count by approximately 35%. Gross margin was $13.1 million, and adjusted EBITDA was about $4.4 million. Casey Hoyt said the company and industry are experiencing “positive momentum” in the wake of its study with KPMG. “The runway is set for continued growth, which will allow us to bring our first-class care to many more patients in need across the country,” he said in a press release.

    Vizient urges CMS to reconsider home infusion benefit

    IRVING, Texas – Vizient, a member-driven health care performance improvement company and its subsidiary Provista, a supply chain partner for non-acute healthcare delivery organizations, have urged CMS to reconsiders its “very narrow interpretation of the new Medicare home infusion benefit. The benefit was finalized in the recently released Home Health Prospective Payment System final rule for 2019. The rule will limit reimbursement for home infusion services to only the day on which the services are furnished by skilled professionals in the individual’s home. “Unfortunately, this decision will likely limit patient access to high-quality, low-cost home infusion services,” the groups stated.

    Miller Prosthetics recognized for service to military

    BELPRE, W.Va. – Miller Prosthetics and Orthotics was recently honored with a 2018 Freedom Award. The award, sponsored by the Orthotic Prosthetic Group of America, recognizes O&P providers who deliver excellent care for military personnel, according to an article in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “We’re excited to recognize Miller Prosthetics and Orthotics for its exceptional care they provide to the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedoms,” said Todd Eagen, president of OPGA. “These dedicated professionals blend patient care with precise design to ensure our military heroes can have increased mobility and independence.”

    Healogics launches patient engagement program

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ­­– Healogics, a national provider of wound care services, has launched a Patient Engagement Program. Through the program, patients receive message reminders for appointments, as well as links to educational videos, articles and instructions for wound and ostomy care, according to a press release. The program features two-way engagement, allowing Healogics team members to see patient responses in real time and respond quickly to prevent delays in care. During the pilot phase of the program, Healogics saw an 8% reduction in cancelled appointments. "Ostomies, in particular, are life-changing surgeries," said Deborah Leblanc, RN, BSN, MM, NEA-BC, Healogics chief nursing officer. “Ostomy readmissions are costly, and the education expertise is limited. Through the Patient Engagement Program, I believe we can help effect change in our patient population and improve patient outcomes with our hospital partners."

    Triple W receives honor

    SAN DIEGO – Triple W has been named a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree for its DFree, the first wearable device for incontinence. The annual CES Innovation Awards recognize outstanding design across 28 product categories. The DFree, which monitors how full your bladder is and notifies you when it’s time to use the bathroom, was recognized in the “Fitness, Sports and Biotech” category. “We just launched DFree in the U.S. market and are excited to be recognized so soon by such a prominent showcase of consumer tech like CES,” said Atsushi Nakanishi, president and CEO, in a press release. “DFree’s new and life-changing approach for the challenge of managing urinary incontinence gives consumers the opportunity to engage fully in an active lifestyle.”

    Adventist Health to lay off workers

    PORTLAND, Ore. – Adventist Health Home Care Services will close its personal care and HME division here, affecting 92 employees, according to an article in the Portland Business Journal. The cuts are expected to begin around Dec. 20, the company stated in a letter to the Oregon Dislocated Worker Unit. Adventist plans to focus on growing its home health, hospice and palliative services, a spokeswoman told the paper Employees connected with the personal care and HME decision will be considered for other roles in the organization.

    Short takes: Soleo, Freeus, Circadiance

    McKinney, Texas-based Soleo Health has been chosen by Shire as a provider of the specialty drug VONVENDI, the first and only recombinant von Willebrand factor designed specifically for treating and managing adults with von Willebrand disease. VWD is the most common bleeding disorder, affecting up to 1% of the world’s population…Ogden, Utah-based Freeus has been named to this year’s Utah 100, an annual list of the fastest growing companies in Utah by MountainWest Capital Network. Freeus is a wholesale provider of two-way voice mobile medical alert systems that connect users to emergency care specialists 24/7. The companies on the list of the Utah 100 were chosen by the percentage of revenue increases between 2013-17…Pittsburgh-based Circadiance has received a Japanese patent for its SleepWeaver line of Soft Cloth CPAP Masks. Circadiance now holds 12 US and international patents.


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    11/15/2018
    HME News Staff

    AMSTERDAM – Royal Philips has launched a global awareness campaign to celebrate everyday wins by COPD patients and their providers and caregivers.

    The campaign, set to start on World COPD Day on Nov. 21, seeks to inspire patients and help them improve their overall quality of life.

    "COPD often presents challenges for patients to partake in daily activities," said Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, chief medical liaison at Philips in a press release. "While COPD is a chronic condition, it doesn't need to be a debilitating disease.”

    Philips will post real-life “wins” every hour on World COPD Day. Follow on Twitter @PhilipsResp and at Facebook.com/PhilipsRespiratoryWellness.

    Advancements like connected care technology help patients maintain contact with physicians and receive treatment at home, Lee-Chiong said.

    “These solutions also provide patients with a stronger support network, allowing the local care team to keep patients motivated and assist with their day-to-day activities,” he said.

    World COPD Day, which started in 2002, is organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease to raise awareness of COPD, which is estimated to affect more than 251 million people worldwide and is estimated to be the third leading cause of death by 2020.


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    Passing H.R. 4229 is unlikely in next few weeks
    11/16/2018
    Theresa Flaherty

    WASHINGTON – Now that the elections are over, industry stakeholders say it’s hard to predict what—if anything—will get done in the lame duck session.

    “Nobody knows what’s going to happen,” said Cara Bachenheimer, chair of the government affairs practice at Brown & Fortunato.“ So let’s focus on what we can control and continue what we are doing, which is calling attention to why bid relief is needed.”

    A recent final rule was a mixed bag for the industry’s efforts to reform Medicare’s competitive bidding program. It extends blended reimbursement rates to rural areas, for example, but not all non-bid areas.

    The lack of additional relief in the final rule shifts the industry’s focus back to Congress and on to H.R. 4229. While Congress plans to pass an appropriations bill before Dec. 7 to avoid a government shutdown, it’s unlikely that that bill or any other will serve as a vehicle for H.R. 4229 before the end of the year.

    “If H.R. 4229 doesn’t get passed, it’s still a viable package,” said Bachenheimer. “It will have to be modified, given the final rule, but it’s a great placeholder (for a new bill next year).”

    The bill, introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who won re-lection, has 157 co-sponsors.

    Adding to the overall uncertainty: The lame duck session is set against the chaos of a Congress in transition, as newly-elected lawmakers begin the process of moving in and going through orientation, and Democrats jockey for position in the House of Representatives.

    “You have the new wave of folks who think they have a mandate to make changes; and you have the old guard, which hasn’t been very supportive of our issues, trying to hold onto power,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy for AAHomecare.

    AAHomecare has begun outreach to introduce the HME industry and its myriad issues to new members. One familiar name: Dan Meuser, former president of Pride Mobility Products and brother to current chairman and CEO Scott Meuser, won his bid to represent Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district.

    “We added a great champion there,” said Witter.

    As always, stakeholders also continue to work with CMS on competitive bidding, including commenting on the agency’s proposal to include braces and ventilators in the next round of the program; and teasing apart sub-regulatory issues related to the recent final rule, like vetting supplier capacity and beneficiary demand, says Bachenheimer.

    “We have a dialogue going with CMS,” she said. “We’re putting all those ducks in a row.”

     


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