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    11/16/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers aren’t necessarily holding off on equipment purchases in the months leading up to Medicare’s any willing provider provision going into effect, according to a recent HME Newspoll.

    A slight majority of poll respondents (58%) say they’re still buying, despite an uncertain Medicare landscape starting Jan. 1, when CMS plans to let its competitive bidding contracts expire and let all enrolled providers supply DMEPOS.

    “We don’t base our decisions on the whims of the federal government,” wrote one respondent who’s still buying.

    Invacare recently blamed a decrease in sales for the third quarter, in part, on providers holding off on equipment purchases until they reassess the market in 2019.

    One respondent is still buying so they’re ready for the potential increased business that an any willing provider provision may bring.

    “When you are a new startup, you need to be on the offensive,” wrote one respondent. “The rates are not great, but with a good selection of types of equipment, we should be fine.”

    For a number of respondents, they’re buying, but cautiously.

    “We continue to acquire equipment in line with our needs by location,” wrote one respondent. “We regularly monitor inventory levels and only keep a limited amount of inventory on hand, so we don’t get caught in a downturn.”

    Other respondents say they’ve held off buying for certain product categories like “bent metal,” while others have held off completely.

    “Due to the new developments, we’ve reduced all purchasing until the new year,” wrote one respondent.

    Invacare believes buying will be back on track sometime in the first quarter, a prediction that’s in line with the poll results. For those respondents who are holding off, the largest majority (48%) plans to resume buying sometime in March-April.

    “We’re just unsure how to proceed right now,” wrote one respondent. “The rates are so low.”


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    11/16/2018
    HME News Staff

    KENNESAW, Ga. – Philips is taking steps to consolidate and transfer manufacturing, R&D operations and related business functions from its facility in Kennesaw, Ga.

    The process will continue through the end of 2019, the company says.

    “During this period, manufacturing operations in Kennesaw, which includes home oxygen and a limited number of other products, will be transitioned to a third-party manufacturer and existing Philips facilities in western Pennsylvania,” the company stated.

    The consolidation will affect about 400 positions in Kennesaw, with plans to transfer 160 positions to facilities in Pennsylvania, the company says.

    The decision to consolidate is driven by “business considerations” and is in line with an overall strategy to optimize manufacturing locations for scale and efficiency, as well as support resource and best practice sharing, the company says.

    “In addition, it will increase focus on enhancing Philips portable oxygen offerings,” the company stated.

    Philips announced earlier this year that it would allow cash customers to buy its POCs directly from the company. It also announced earlier this year that it would discontinue its UltraFill Home Oxygen System by the end of this year.

    ActivStyle drops out of Illinois Medicaid

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – ActivStyle, a Minneapolis-based provider of incontinence supplies, is dropping out of IlliniCare Health’s network after “a year of operating at a loss,” CEO Gayle Devin has told Crain’s Chicago Business. IlliniCare, a private insurer in the state’s overhauled Medicaid managed care program, implemented cuts of up to 50% on Jan. 1 for everything from wheelchairs to ventilators. “We finally said, ‘We love these (patients)—we’ve been servicing some of them since we entered the Illinois market in 2002—but we won’t compromise and go to a lower-quality product,” she told the newspaper. “We know it’s going to lead to poor outcomes.” ActivStyle’s exit means 1,000 patients will have to find another in-network provider for their incontinence supplies, according to Crain’s Chicago. The provider notified IlliniCare of its decision on Nov. 1. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly that would help to address concerns surrounding the cuts. House Bill 5930 would prohibit supply companies from being paid less than 10% below Medicaid fee-for-service rates by MCOs. Devin told Crain’s Chicago if ActivStyle needs to be the “sacrificial lamb” to move the bill forward, “it’s a worthy cause.”

    Apria’s online retail outlet adds payment options

    LAKE FOREST, Calif. – ApriaDirect, Apria Healthcare’s online marketplace for HME, now accepts flexible spending account and health savings account debit cards for qualified retail purchases. The goal: to reduce the burden of healthcare spending for customers and improve the overall shopping experience. “ApriaDirect is part of a limited number of select online stores currently accepting FSA and HSA cards, providing customers a convenient way to purchase eligible HME and supplies while shopping online,” said Lori Raygoza, vice president, eCommerce. ApriaDirect offers a portfolio of CPAP and respiratory products, independent living and bath safety products, as well as personal care, incontinence and mobility accessories. The company estimates that high deductible health plans, which typically offer FSA and HSA programs, now make up almost half of all employer-based health coverage and nearly all individual policies.

    Itamar Medical: New fee schedule advances WatchPAT

    CAESAREA, Israel – The recently released 2019 fee schedule from CMS should support broad use of Itamar Medical’s WatchPAT technology, the company says. WatchPAT uses peripheral arterial tone (PAT) technology to provide cardiologists and sleep physicians in the United States with accurate sleep diagnoses. “We believe that the new CMS fee schedule validates the clinical value of our sleep tests for patients and may significantly advance utilization of our sleep tests in the U.S. market,” said Gilad Glick, CEO of Itamar Medical. “It also reflects growing awareness of deploying home sleep apnea testing and sleep apnea management as essential components of the cardiology care pathway.” Itamar Medical estimates that WatchPAT technology accounted for about 15% of the home sleep tests in the U.S. in 2017.

    Philips marks COPD ‘wins’

    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. 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.

    InfuSystem reports Q3 earnings

    MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – InfuSystem Holdings reported net revenues of $16.7 million for the third quarter of 2018, a 5% decreased compared to the same quarter in 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was $3.3 million, a 15% decrease. “We are making strong progress and gaining traction on our strategic initiatives that we believe will lead to significant oncology market share gains in 2019,” said Richard Dilorio, CEO. “This includes the introduction during the third quarter of InfuSystem Mobile, a ‘first of its kind’ mobile application to enhance safety and communication.” For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2018, the company reported net revenues of $49.6 million, a decrease of 5% for the same period in 2017.

    BraunAbility acquires regional dealer

    SAN DIEGO – BraunAbility has acquired Ability Center, a regional dealer of wheelchair accessible vehicles with 14 locations across California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. “Ability Center has been my life’s work, and this partnership ensure we are well-positioned to grow and, most importantly, continue to provide an outstanding level of care and service to our customers,” said Darrell Heath, founder and chairman. BraunAbility is a global manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts. It is a wholly owned subsidiary to Patricia Industries, a division of Investor AB Group.

    Triple W offers new app

    SAN DIEGO – A companion app for the DFree is now available for Android devices, according to an announcement from San Diego-based Triple W. DFree is a wearable device that predicts toilet timing for incontinence patients. An iOS version of the app has been in use since 2017. The DFree won second place at the Innovative HME Retail Product Awards at Medtrade in October. The device was also named an Innovation Awards Honoree for CES 2019 in January.

    VGM rolls out cannabis division

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has launched botaniCo, a new division focusing on medical marijuana businesses, as well as the legalized cannabis and hemp industries. botaniCo offers its members access to revenue growth tools, business analytics, government relations and advocacy, education and tailored insurance products. “This new program aligns VGM with providers expanding into the cannabis market, as well as introduces our purchasing solutions and services to others already conducting business in states where cannabis is legal,” said Clint Geffert, president of VGM & Associates.  botaniCo’s members currently include dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, extractors, testing laboratories and distributors.

    GEC reports growth

    WALTHAM, Mass. – Great Elm Capital Group has reported Valley Health Group (VHG) and Northwest Medical (NWM) generated EBITDA of $14.1 million for the period ending Sept. 30, 2018, a growth rate of 9.3% as of June 30, 2018. For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2018, VHG and NWM would have generated $47.7 million in revenue, representing 1.3% growth over the last 12 months ended June 30, 2018. GEC, which acquired an 80% interest in VHG and NWM for $63.6 million earlier this year, stated that it is focused on integrating operations for both companies, as well as driving revenue growth and looking at further M&A opportunities. "We are pleased with our acquisition of Valley Healthcare and Northwest Medical,” said CEO Peter Reed in a press release. “The combined business is growing revenue and EBITDA, while generating significant free cash flow. We are looking forward to continuing its growth trajectory with add-on acquisitions.”

    Nevada: DME exempted from sales tax

    CARSON CITY, Nev. – Residents of Nevada last week voted in favor of exempting durable medical equipment from sales tax, according to a bulletin from VGM. Sixty-seven percent of voters approved the measure, which amends the Nevada Constitution to remove sales tax applied to DME, oxygen delivery equipment and mobility equipment when prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. Provider Doug Bennett, of Bennett Medical Services and NAMPS, rallied grassroots efforts to advocate for the change.

    Easy Breathe reaches milestone

    LOS ANGELES – Online CPAP store Easy Breathe has more than 100,000 “likes” on its Facebook page. The company’s Facebook page features tips for CPAP therapy and supply maintenance, as well as information about promotions, sweepstakes and product features, according to a press release. "We want to create a platform for engagement in the CPAP community," said Nick Weiss, Easy Breathe founder and CEO. "We strive to ensure that our customers are aware of the best deals on cutting-edge products and the most useful CPAP tips and tricks. For our team, this Facebook milestone definitely shows we are connecting with the community and moving in the right direction."

    Numotion now owned by AEA

    BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – It’s official: Numotion has announced it has been acquired by an affiliate of AEA Investors LP. AEA has acquired controlling interest in the complex rehab provider from LLR Partners and Audax Group. LLR Partners, however, has re-invested in Numotion as a minority shareholder. The private equity firms say they are partnering with the provider’s existing management team to help fund its continuing growth initiatives. “AEA’s resources and expertise will help us to further invest, so we can continue in our pursuit of providing the best possible services to our customers,” said Mike Swinford, CEO.

    Golden Technologies reduces lead times

    OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies has dropped lead times on builder or special order lift chairs to 15 business days. “As part of our continued operational improvement process, we are building more chairs than ever and getting them out faster,” said Rich Golden, CEO. “We’re increasing our finished goods inventory. (This is) all in an effort to provide our retailers with the quality products they need to increase their revenue during the holiday selling season.” Products available at the reduced lead times include Golden’s new PR514 MaxiComfort Lift Recliner with Twilight Positioning. Builder or special order chairs will be quoted from 15 business days from the time of order.

    Breathe adds NIV service

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Breathe, an IDTF that provides third-party testing for DME providers, has added capnography testing to its software platform. “Capnography testing was developed to support the growing request from our DME providers to be able to provider this test to their patients and referring physicians,” said Amber Yeager, owner. “By adding this service to our platform, it allows our clients to identify and grow their non-invasive ventilation business.” Provider customers that use Breathe’s mobile app will also be able to access their capnography patients through their Apple or Android smart phone devices.


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    11/20/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    WASHINGTON – The finding that zero of the “covered entities” recently audited by the Office of Civil Rights fully complied with HIPAA requirements is a “wake-up call” for HME providers, says Wayne van Halem.

    What’s more, the OCR found that more than 80% of “covered entities” made minimal, negligible or no efforts to comply with the requirements.

    “Our industry is really vulnerable here,” said van Halem, president of The van Halem Group, a division of VGM Group. “This is an opportune time for providers to say, ‘This is serious. We need to find out what we need to do and do it. We can’t afford a $1 million fine.’”

    The OCR, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, audited more than 200 “covered entities” as part of the second of a three-phase program. The third phase: compiling the results of the audits and forming an educational program to help entities comply with the requirements.

    This last phase of the program will be crucial, as the “OCR does a pretty poor job of telling us what those specific requirements are,” says Kelli Ogunlesi.

    “The OCR conducted the audits to find best practices and share them industry wide,” said Ogunlesi, a success manager for HIPAAwise, which offers compliance software and has an agreement with The van Halem Group to combine their services. “Based on the results so far, there are not a lot of best practices showcased, but I’m hoping they at least provide guidance on where providers need to bulk up their compliance and documentation protocols.”

    It’s important to remember, van Halem and Ogunlesi say, that providers don’t necessarily have to experience breaches to be audited by the OCR.

    “There are also random audits where you need to show that you’re doing everything in your power to mitigate willful neglect and that you’re taking steps to reduce vulnerabilities and have documentation that spells out the process,” Ogunlesi said.


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    11/20/2018
    HME News Staff

    WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has pulled together suggested talking points for providers who plan to comment on CMS’s proposal to include vents in its next round of competitive bidding.

    “There are major concerns with life-sustaining equipment such as ventilators being restricted to contracted suppliers given the instability that the program has caused within the DMEPOS industry,” VGM stated in a bulletin.

    CMS has proposed adding the following codes to the program: E0465 (invasive), E0466 (non-invasive) and E0467 (multi-functioning). The agency expects to roll out the next round of the program in 2021, after a two-year gap period.

    VGM encourages providers to use real examples in their comments.

    “Providing real examples of patients who suppliers serve can effectively demonstrate the need to keep this product category out of the competitive bidding program,” VGM stated.

    VGM’s talking points include:

    ·      This market serves a highly vulnerable patient population with life-sustaining equipment.

    ·      Vent patients require highly skilled respiratory therapists beyond the average oxygen patient.

    ·      Ventilation is a small market with few suppliers in certain areas having proper resources.

    ·      The negative impacts from competitive bidding on the DME community should not be replicated to life-sustaining equipment such as vents.

    CMS will accept comments on its proposal until Dec. 3. Send comments to DMEPOS@cms.hhs.gov.

    Viemed shares take hit due to vent proposal?

    LAFAYETTE, La. – Viemed Healthcare on Nov. 19 commented on a “trading halt” of its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company says it is “not aware of any material undisclosed information in the business, operations or affairs that may be contributing to the level of trading activity of its shares” on the exchange. It suspects, however, that the activity could be related to CMS’s plans to possibly include ventilators in the next round of its competitive bidding program, set to start, at the earliest, in 2021. Viemed does not support CMS’s plans and says it will submit comments to the agency by a Dec. 3 deadline.

    Quantum Rehab launches app

    DURYEA, Pa. – Quantum Rehab has launched Interactive Assist, a new app that provides a direct, real-time connection from a power wheelchair’s electronics to a provider’s programming station. The connection helps to eliminate wasteful service trips. “For both providers and consumers, Interactive Assist saves time, money and frustration,” said Jay Brislin, vice president of Quantum Rehab. “We didn’t just want data snapshots. (Our app) features real-time monitoring; mirroring access; and the ability to adjust certain parameters.” The app is available for download in the Apple Store and Google Play Store. Here’s how it works: The consumer links his or her controller to the app using a smart device, making a secure connection to the provider; the provider or technician can then view every aspect of the wheelchair’s electronics, even as it operates. While connected, the consumer and provider can also communicate via text chat.

    WHILL named one of TIME’s 50 best

    SAN FRANCISCO – TIME Magazine has named WHILL’s Model Ci personal electric vehicle one of the “50 Best Inventions of 2018.” The wheelchair was selected out of hundreds of editor and expert submissions from around the world. TIME evaluated each contender on key factors, including originality, creativity, influence, ambition and effectiveness. Of the Ci, TIME wrote, “Thanks to its specially engineered front ‘omni-wheels,’ it can ride up to 10 miles indoors or outdoors, climb obstacles up to two inches in height and easily navigate cramped quarters; it can also be disassembled in minutes, enabling easy transport.” Also this year, the Ci received the CES “Best of Innovation Award” in the Accessibility Tech category and was named an Engadget “Best of CES 2018” finalist. Additionally, Fast Company has recognized WHILL as one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies” in robotics for 2018.

    Ascensia updates app

    PARSIPPANY, N.J. ­ – Ascensia Diabetes Care has updated its Contour Diabetes app to enable seamless integration with Apple Health. Connectivity between the two apps means users are able to share blood glucose readings and carbohydrate data from the app with Apple Health. “This upgrade is part of the Ascensia’s focus on interconnected diabetes management and building a seamless integrated journey between device, systems and smartphone apps that will allow people with diabetes to more easily and effectively manage their diabetes,” the company stated. “This upgrade is the result of feedback from users of the Contour Diabetes app vie App Store reviews and social media.” Once enabled, data from the Contour Diabetes app will automatically transfer and be visible in the Health app. Ascensia says many people with diabetes are already using the Health app as the primary application.

    ResMed’s board members honored

    SAN DIEGO – Two members of ResMed’s board of directors have been named to WomenInc. Magazine’s “2018 Most Influential Corporate Directors,” a list of women executives, influencers and achievers contributing leadership to corporate boards. Carol Burt has served on ResMed’s board since November 2013 and is chairwoman of its Audit Committee. She is principal of Burt-Hilliard Investments. Karen Drexler has served on the board since November 2017 and is director of the Compensation Committee. She is CEO of Sandstone Diagnostics. “We’re honored to be listed among so many successful, innovative women driving businesses and the products and services they provide,” Burt and Drexler said in a joint statement. “Diversity at the board level and in the workplace contributes unique perspectives that help support the companies and communities they serve.”

    Numotion buys Carr Rehab

    BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has expanded its footprint in Tennessee with the acquisition of Carr Rehab. Carr Rehab has been serving East Tennessee for more than 27 years from locations in Knoxville and Johnson City. Twenty five employees from Carr Rehab have transitioned to Numotion. They include: ATPs, and customer care, service and repair, payer relations, medical documentation and order processing professionals. "The Carr Rehab team has a solid reputation for providing quality equipment, along with a real passion for their customers," said Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. "We are excited to add this experienced group of professionals to the Numotion team."


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    11/27/2018
    HME News Staff

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Colfax Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to buy DJO Global from an investment group led by private equity firm Blackstone for $3.15 billion in cash.

    Colfax provides air and gas handling and fabrication technology products and services to customers around the world, primarily under the Howden and ESAB brands.

    “The acquisition of DJO is a compelling next step in the strategic evolutions of Colfax that creates a new growth platform in the high-margin orthopedic solutions market,” said Matt Trerotola, president and CEO of Colfax. “We see significant opportunities to apply our proven Colfax Business System across DJO to create a continuous improvement culture, further improve productivity and margins, and accelerate innovation and new product development.”

    Upon closing, DJO Global will operate as a new segment within Colfax and be led by Brady Shirley, DJO president and CEO, who will report directly to Trerotola.

    For DJO, the deal boosts the company’s potential operational performance and growth, says Shirley.

    “Colfax team’s operating expertise across a broad array of businesses makes them the ideal partner to help us build on our momentum, drive new levels of innovation and continue to deliver outstanding service to our customers,” he said.

    Colfax, which trades on the NYSE under the ticker symbol CFX, expects to finance the deal with about $100 million in cash from its balance sheet, proceeds from credit facilities and a contemplated debt offering, and $500 million to $700 million from a contemplated offering of equity or equity linked securities.

    The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

    Aeroflow expands resupply biz

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has acquired Integrity Medical’s CPAP resupply business. “We look forward to providing exceptional care for new and existing PAP patients in Georgia and are happy to add resources to Integrity Medical to help refocus its missions,” said Andrew Amoth, corporate development manager. Augusta, Ga.-based Integrity Medical also provides products in the following categories: lift chairs, respiratory, walking aids, bathroom safety, seating and positioning, and patient room. Aeroflow has also acquired HealthCare Plus’ resupply business for CPAP, urology, incontinence and wound care. Polson, Mont.-based HealthCare Plus will focus on its pharmacy business. Earlier this year, Aeroflow bought the CPAP resupply business of Vernon, Conn.-based Med-Caire.


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    11/30/2018
    Guest Commentary

    It’s hard to believe that 2018 is quickly coming to an end. In this industry, we blink and another year is behind us. At VGM, we experienced many examples this year that truly illustrate productive change—forward movement in technology, providers dipping their toes in the waters of opportunity, and engagement at all levels to continue to come together to take care of America’s post-acute patients.

    We launched a series of playbooks in 2018as a resource for both providers and manufacturers that highlighted and addressed issues, trends and opportunities facing the durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) industry. We entered the year with continued uncertainty due to consolidation, competitive bidding and the regulatory environment dominating the headlines. With this landscape, however, came new opportunities. These opportunities and more will carry over in 2019.

    Projections by the Census Bureau estimate the number of adults ages 65 and over could increase to more than 71 million in 2030 and hit 88.5 million by 2050. The market for treatment of obesity, COPD, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, and other chronic conditions continues to expand. This uniquely positions our industry to help improve the quality of life for more patients than ever before. To quote the great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Let’s make 2019 the year we all strategically step out of our comfort zones to grow, capitalize on the bigger opportunity for DMEPOS and beyond, and see where the magic happens.

    To be quite honest, I continue to challenge my team to step out of their comfort zones and think differently about how we bring maximum value to VGM members and partners. We are evolving to be in front of the challenges providers face day in and day out and develop the solutions needed for providers to stay relevant in the future. Below are some of our focus areas as we head into the New Year:

    Competitive bidding

    In recent years, there has been plenty of instability in the DMEPOS market due to many regulatory unknowns and “we’ll wait and see what happens” with reimbursement relief from the legislative and executive branch (CMS) of the government. VGM and industry stakeholders will continue to strategize and pursue much-needed reforms to protect suppliers and the patients they serve.

    Payer relations

    Providers will need to engage in more active dialogue with payers. It is important to know what their goals are and what’s important to them. Ultimately, providers can best prepare for these changes by doing the very thing many of them got in the business to do in the first place—be the support for patients.

    Growth potential in the marketplace

    We’ve identified the markets below as growing most rapidly and align best with DMEPOS providers, no matter their current business mix:

    Home modification

    Women’s health

    Complex rehab

    Retail/cash products

    Respiratory

    Wound care

    Cannabis

    The Technology ecosystem for DMEPOS

    Providers know there is value in automation and gaining efficiencies, but how does everything fit together? We are working to illustrate the technology ecosystem for DMEPOS.

    Customer loyalty

    Understanding your customers and their lifetime value (LTV) will become paramount. One of the most effective ways to boost LTV is to increase customer satisfaction. Research has found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25-95%. Online review tools, as well as a closed-loop feedback process to address issues and personnel training, are areas to invest.

    Be on the lookout for the launch of “Industry Snapshots: Forecasting 2019” in late January. Industry experts will again weigh in and get deep with the top post-acute health care initiatives providers and manufacturers should focus their time and resources on to realize the most impactful results. If you felt uncomfortable in 2018, be prepared to take that to a whole new level in 2019. Let’s destroy the walls of our comfort zone together (not only in business, but in life) and see the difference for patients, profits—and ourselves.

    Clint Geffert is president of VGM & Associates.


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    11/30/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    “We believe we’re on the cusp of another 2012,” said Dexter Braff, president of The Braff Group, during a webcast last week on the M&A outlook for HME.

    What happened in 2012?

    According to The Braff Group: The number of HME deals jumped to 107, up from 71 in 2011 and 59 in 2010; and the number of private equity deals also jumped to 10, up from four in 2011 and 2010.

    2012 was also the year after CMS kicked off its competitive bidding program in the country’s largest cities on Jan. 1, 2011.

    Putting two and two together: Investors thought, after the first round of bidding, that reimbursement wouldn’t go any lower, so they pressed on the gas on deals.

    “They thought they knew where the space was headed and that reimbursement wouldn’t go down from where the first round settled,” Braff said.

    Investors, as we know, were wrong. Subsequent rounds of bidding resulted in lower and lower reimbursement, and deal activity suffered. According to The Braff Group: There were 68 deals in 2013, 61 deals in 2014, 47 deals in 2015 and 40 deals in 2016. There were four private equity deals in 2013, five in 2014 and 2015, and three in 2016.

    “There was a significant retreat,” Braff said. “They saw that in subsequent rounds there were new bottoms to be found.”

    So why are we on the cusp of another 2012, when deal activity was at a 10-year high?

    With CMS’s plans to pause the bid program for two years, in 2019-2020, and to implement significant changes in 2021 that could actually increase reimbursement, investors are talking about HME again.

    “There’s been a lot of chatter,” Braff said.

    There was also an article “out of the blue” in a private equity publication in October titled: “Durable medical equipment: once shunned, now new opportunity for PE.”

    “We don’t know if there’ll be (a surge in deal activity), but if you made a bet that there would be, it wouldn’t be a stupid bet,” Braff said.

     

     


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    11/30/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – CMS has extended a comment period for its plans to add new product categories to the competitive bidding program. The agency will now accept comments through Dec. 17. CMS included the new categories—ventilators and off-the-shelf knee and back braces—in a recent final rule. The proposal caught the industry by surprise and the inclusion of vents, in particular, has stakeholders concerned. AAHomecare has formed a ventilator workgroup to develop comments to the proposal. The VGM Group has pulled together talking points for providers who plan to comment. CMS plans to phase in the new product categories in all CBAs in the next round of competitive bidding.

    M&A: DJO sells, Aeroflow buys

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Colfax Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to buy DJO Global from an investment group led by private equity firm Blackstone for $3.15 billion in cash.

    Colfax provides air and gas handling and fabrication technology products and services to customers around the world, primarily under the Howden and ESAB brands.

    “The acquisition of DJO is a compelling next step in the strategic evolutions of Colfax that creates a new growth platform in the high-margin orthopedic solutions market,” said Matt Trerotola, president and CEO of Colfax. “We see significant opportunities to apply our proven Colfax Business System across DJO to create a continuous improvement culture, further improve productivity and margins, and accelerate innovation and new product development.”

    Upon closing, DJO Global will operate as a new segment within Colfax and be led by Brady Shirley, DJO president and CEO, who will report directly to Trerotola.

    For DJO, the deal boosts the company’s potential operational performance and growth, says Shirley.

    “Colfax team’s operating expertise across a broad array of businesses makes them the ideal partner to help us build on our momentum, drive new levels of innovation and continue to deliver outstanding service to our customers,” he said.

    Colfax, which trades on the NYSE under the ticker symbol CFX, expects to finance the deal with about $100 million in cash from its balance sheet, proceeds from credit facilities and a contemplated debt offering, and $500 million to $700 million from a contemplated offering of equity or equity linked securities.

    The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

    Aeroflow expands resupply biz

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has acquired Integrity Medical’s CPAP resupply business. “We look forward to providing exceptional care for new and existing PAP patients in Georgia and are happy to add resources to Integrity Medical to help refocus its missions,” said Andrew Amoth, corporate development manager. Augusta, Ga.-based Integrity Medical also provides products in the following categories: lift chairs, respiratory, walking aids, bathroom safety, seating and positioning, and patient room. Aeroflow has also acquired HealthCare Plus’ resupply business for CPAP, urology, incontinence and wound care. Polson, Mont.-based HealthCare Plus will focus on its pharmacy business. Earlier this year, Aeroflow bought the CPAP resupply business of Vernon, Conn.-based Med-Caire.

    Improper payments for HME decrease

    WASHINGTON – The improper payment rate for DMEPOS decreased from 46.2% in 2016 to 35.5% in 2018, representing a decrease of $1.14 billion, according to a bulletin from AAHomecare. The improper payment rate for all Medicare fee-for-service decreased from 9.5% in 2017 to 8.1% in 2018. The association met with CMS’s Comprehensive Error Rate Testing team in June to explore ways to continue to improve error rates.

    Compass Health sponsors AAHomecare

    CLEVELAND – Compass Health has joined AAHomecare as a bronze level corporate partner. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was an easy decision to support AAHomecare due to their tireless work in support of the HME industry” said Gregory Zenko, senior vice president of Compass Health’s HME Business Unit, in a press release. “With acute care facilities being incentivized to discharge patients quickly, it’s imperative that CMS creates balanced and fair programs allowing patients to properly and safely heal at home.” Compass Health manufactures a broad range of homecare, rehab and pain management products. Its consumer brands include Carex, AccuRelief and Apex. Its professional brands included ProBasics, Roscoe Medical and Meridian Medical.

    Insulin use to increase, study finds

    NEW YORK – The amount of insulin required to treat Type 2 diabetes is expected to increase by more than 20% from 2018 to 2030, according to a new study published in The Lancet. Using data from the International Diabetes Federation, researchers developed a microsimulation of the Type 2 diabetes burden across 221 countries. The number of people worldwide with Type 2 diabetes is estimated to increase from 405.6 million in 2018 to 510.8 million in 2030. Insulin use is estimated to increase 616.1 million 1,000 IU vials per year to 633.7 million during that same timeframe.

    People news: Sullivan, Distasio, Lowman, Turner, Gill, Stone

    Connie Sullivan has been named president and CEO of the National Home Infusion Association. Sullivan most recently served as vice president of research and innovation at NHIA…Jeffrey Distasio has been named senior director of Pride Sales. Distasio has more than 20 years of sales experience and previously held positions at Gillette, Duracell, Aramark and Bausch & Lomb…Darren Lowman has been named chief supply chain officer at National Seating & Mobility. Previously, he worked as director of strategic sourcing at Tractor Supply Co., a $7 billion retailer…Kelly Turner is stepping down as director of People for Quality Care to pursue a new opportunity at VGM. Collin Brecher will step in…Harjit Gill has been elected to ResMed’s board of directors. Gill has more than 25 years of experience in health and consumer technology products in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. She replaces Dr. Gary Pace, who retired Nov. 15…Jerry Stone has been appointed to AAHomecare’s board of directors. Stone is vice president of payer relations for National Seating & Mobility.

    Diabetes study: Current standard of care inadequate

    SAN FRANCISCO –Sixty two percent of patients with Type 2 diabetes are not satisfied with their current standard of care, according to a new study from Virta Health.

    What’s more, 66% of healthcare providers believe the average patient is unable to manage their disease with the current standard of care.

    The online study, conducted by students from Purdue University, sampled 168 adults and 48 healthcare providers in the United States.

    Other patient findings: 43% think information from their provider is poor; 34% think the timeliness of advice from providers is poor; and 93% believe they are knowledgeable about the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.

    Other provider findings: 66% don’t think three to six month appointments are effective in managing care, with 44% saying monthly appointments are necessary; 83% think their patients do not disclose accurate information about their health between appointments because they forget the details; and 72% think the majority of their patients are taking action to reach their A1c goals.

    Virta Health is a technology enabled online clinic that provides treatment for Type 2 diabetes and other chronic metabolic diseases without medication or surgery.

    Reliable Respiratory partners with senior health plan

    NORWOOD, Mass. – Reliable Respiratory has partnered with PACE Organization of Rhode Island to provide sleep and respiratory equipment, and clinical and administrative support, to its members. PACE members will also receive one-on-one coaching through respiratory therapists, online ordering and equipment tutorials, according to a press release. “We are honored that PACE has trusted us with their participants, and we are glad to welcome them, and their caregivers, into the Reliable family,” said Eric Mongeau, vice president of sales & marketing at Reliable Respiratory. “Our visions are closely aligned: supporting and empowering patients to be healthy at home.” Reliable Respiratory serves more than 40,000 patients across New England.

    Moneyline: Reliable Medical Supply, Viemed

    MINNEAPOLIS – Reliable Medical Supply has recapitalized with Chicago-based private equity firm Seven Hills Capital. RMS is a DME provider specializing in complex rehab serving patients throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. "This is an ideal partnership for us," said Debra Kalk, president and CEO. "Not only do we gain a strong financial partner with Seven Hills, we also increase our capacity to gain market share through acquisition." Financial terms of the transaction, which was facilitated by Vertess, were not disclosed…Lafayette, La.-based Viemed Healthcare has received approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange to issue a bid for common share of the company. Under the terms of the bid, Viemed may acquire up to 1,895,575 common shares. Daily purchases under the bid will be limited to a maximum of 37,537 common shares. The bid will commence Nov. 29, 2018, and terminate Nov. 28, 2019.

    Industry loses rehab icon

    EXETER, Pa. – Mark Smith, the general manager for public relations and consumer research for Quantum Rehab and Pride Mobility Products, passed away on Nov. 25 surrounded by his family. Smith, who was born with cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair, supplied input on various projects and provided consumer feedback to the research and development team for the two companies. He joined Pride and Quantum in 2001. Smith was also a prolific writer, authoring five books and countless magazine articles and columns. Additionally, he was known for his blog www.powerchairdiaries.com, formerly www.wheelchairjunkie.com. Smith is survived by his wife, Holly, and daughters, Emily and Annabelle.

    Invacare layoffs shift to Europe

    ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare plans to reduce its workforce in Europe by about 50 employees, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The move is part of the company’s long-term plan to achieve $12.5 million of operating margin improvement from cost reduction activities specifically in Europe. Invacare expects to incur total pre-tax cash restructuring charges, primarily related to severance and transition assistance, of about $900,000, which will be expensed in the fourth quarter in the Europe segment. Once the reduction is complete, the company expects it to generate about $2.5 million in annualized pre-tax savings. To date, Invacare has announced cost reduction actions that will result in about $5.8 million in annualized pre-tax savings toward its $12.5 million goal. Earlier this month, Invacare announced that it had once again reduced its workforce in the U.S. by about 50 employees.

    Golden, Ultrafabrics partner on lifetime warranties

    OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies now offers lifetime warranties for breathable fabrics on its lift chairs. The company is offering the extended warranties on its lift chairs that use Brisa by Ultrafabrics. “We are excited to partner with Ultrafabrics to offer the only lifetime warranty for all Brisa breathable fabrics on lift chairs in the industry,” said Rich Golden, CEO. “This collaboration marks the fusion of true comfort seating and luxurious Brisa fabrics—both built to last.” The warranties, subject to Golden’s terms and conditions, begin from the date of shipment to the buyer and last for the life of the chair.

    Groups re-energize their marketing efforts

    WATERLOO, Iowa – A group of HME industry advocates convened at VGM’s headquarters in November for a workshop to share best practices for digital marketing and social media consumer-focused campaigns.

    Their goal: to use these campaigns to advance grassroots legislative efforts that benefit the industry.

    “For the first time, representatives from (a number of) industry groups have joined forces to better engage the communities we serve through grassroots campaigns on social media, with a unified intention of advancing legislative efforts that protect and serve our customers and providers,” said Lisa Wells, vice president of marketing for Cure Medical, who facilitated the workshop.

    Representatives from the following groups participated: NCART, AAHomecare, VGM and VGM Forbin, U.S. Rehab, MAMES/SWMESA, People for Quality Care and Essentially Women.

    The workshop, sponsored by VGM, educated attendees on best practices for recruiting and engaging consumer advocates who rely on HME; proven methodologies for deploying HME advocacy campaigns using people-first language, video content and specific media channels; messaging that drives powerful engagement; and appropriate imagery that properly reflects HME consumers in an authentic way.

    “Everyone who attended this workshop is headed home eager to implement a refreshed approach to our grassroots strategy and the way we continue to build our respective networks of advocates,” said Mickae Lee, director of advocacy and communications for NCART. “Participants shared an impressive range of perspectives and ideas around the table, and I’m excited to see the resulting impact for our industry.”

    Coalition pushes leadership to pass accessories bill

    WASHINGTON – The ITEM Coalition has sent a second letter to leaders of the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees in the House of Representatives, urging them to pass H.R. 3730. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., would stop CMS from using competitive bidding-related pricing for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs. The letter follows up on an earlier letter sent in September. “We now urge you to pass this important legislation before the end of the year to ensure Medicare beneficiary access to manual CRT wheelchair accessories and to capitalize on the significant bipartisan support for the bill in Congress,” the letter reads. The bill currently has 122 supporters. The ITEM Coalition, a national consumer and clinician-led coalition advocating for access to and coverage for assistive devices, technologies and related for people with disabilities, has 30 members, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the United Spinal Association and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

    RRI regulators now include value-add

    ST. LOUIS – Responsive Respiratory has upgraded its custom logo regulator offering to include a free pocket duration guide with purchase. All standard and high-flow regulators purchased with a custom engraved logo will now include the new cylinder duration card at no charge in every box, the company says. “The pocket duration card was developed as a result of RRI’s Customer Feedback Initiatives and addresses one of the primary concerns for oxygen users: How long will my cylinder last,” says Tom Bannon, president. RRI also offers an “O2 To Go Duration App,” but the company knows that not all patients have access to this technology.

    Short takes: Medtrade, BOC

    On Dec. 3, SmartSaver Conference Passes will be available for Medtrade Spring, April 16-18 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The passes are $99 and allow full access to educational sessions and the expo hall. SmartSaver Expo Passes are $25 and allow full access to the expo hall. “For those who already know they are going to Medtrade Spring, these are the rates to grab,” said Sarah Varner, marketing director. “The conference pass offers a $100 savings over Early Rates and an expo pass saves $25”…The BOC board of directors has announced the election of its 2019 executive committee and two new members. The officers on the executive committee are Wayne Rosen (chairman), Mark Parris (vice chairman), Joshua Bressler (secretary), Daniel Griffis (treasurer), John Own (member at large) and L. Bradley Watson (immediate past chairman). The new members are Justina Appel and Cameron Stewart.


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    11/30/2018
    Theresa Flaherty

    WATERLOO, Iowa – A group of HME industry advocates convened at VGM’s headquarters in November for a workshop to share best practices for digital marketing and social media consumer-focused campaigns.

    Their goal: to use these campaigns to advance grassroots legislative efforts that benefit the industry.

    “For the first time, representatives from (a number of) industry groups have joined forces to better engage the communities we serve through grassroots campaigns on social media, with a unified intention of advancing legislative efforts that protect and serve our customers and providers,” said Lisa Wells, vice president of marketing for Cure Medical, who facilitated the workshop.

    Representatives from the following groups participated: NCART, AAHomecare, VGM and VGM Forbin, U.S. Rehab, MAMES/SWMESA, People for Quality Care and Essentially Women.

    The workshop, sponsored by VGM, educated attendees on best practices for recruiting and engaging consumer advocates who rely on HME; proven methodologies for deploying HME advocacy campaigns using people-first language, video content and specific media channels; messaging that drives powerful engagement; and appropriate imagery that properly reflects HME consumers in an authentic way.

    “Everyone who attended this workshop is headed home eager to implement a refreshed approach to our grassroots strategy and the way we continue to build our respective networks of advocates,” said Mickae Lee, director of advocacy and communications for NCART. “Participants shared an impressive range of perspectives and ideas around the table, and I’m excited to see the resulting impact for our industry.”


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    12/06/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Medicare improperly paid suppliers $34 million for DME and supplies that were provided during inpatient stays, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

    Those items should have been provided directly by the inpatient facility or under arrangements between the facility and the supplier, according to the report.

    In addition, beneficiaries were improperly held responsible for deductibles and coinsurance provided during inpatient stays totaling $8.7 million.

    Medicare overpaid the suppliers because systems edits that should have prevented or detected the overpayments were not adequate. If those edits had been adequate, Medicare could have saved $223.1 million since 2008, and beneficiaries could have saved $56.3 million, according to the report.

    The OIG recommended that CMS direct contractors to recover the $34 million; that suppliers refund beneficiaries up to $8.7 million; and that the agency identify and recover any improper payments to suppliers after its audit period.

    The OIG also recommended CMS take all necessary actions, including legislative authority, to require suppliers to refund beneficiaries and correct the system edits.

    CMS concurred with all recommendations with the exception of the recommendation to seek legislative authority, stating it will consider whether to recommend the proposal for inclusion in the president’s next budget.

     


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    Up for discussion: product categories, supplier capacity, bona fide bids
    12/07/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    WASHINGTON – As HME industry stakeholders work with CMS officials to shape future rounds of competitive bidding, they’re focusing, first, on helping the agency re-arrange the program’s product categories.

    Under lead-item pricing—where payment levels for the item with the highest expenditures in a product category determine the payment levels for all other items in the category—stakeholders say it doesn’t make sense, for example, to bundle oxygen concentrators and CPAP devices in a broad respiratory category. Why should the payment level for a stationary oxygen concentrator determine the payment level for a CPAP mask?

    Other categories stakeholders say are too broad: general HME, which includes everything from hospital beds to support surfaces to commode chairs; and mobility, which includes everything from manual and power wheelchairs to accessories to walkers.

    “We’re finalizing recommendations to CMS on how to organize the product categories into more discrete product categories,” said Cara Bachenheimer, chair of the government affairs practice at Brown & Fortunato.

    In the first round of competitive bidding, back in 2011, CMS had more specific product categories but then bundled some products into broader categories in subsequent rounds of the program. Stakeholders suspect the agency made the change based on feedback, but it “may have taken it too far,” they say. In a recent final rule, CMS suggested it was open to re-arranging the product categories, they point out.

    Having more product categories may create difficulties for providers and referral sources—conceivably, a contract for walkers may go to one provider, beds to another and support surfaces to another—but “with lead-item pricing, there’s no other way to do it,” said Kim Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs for AAHomecare.

    Bachenheimer agreed, saying, “It’s more important to have a financially stable program, even if it’s logistically more complicated.”

    Stakeholders are under the gun to influence the product categories: When the agency announces the timeline for its next round of bidding—some time in early 2019, they expect— it could also announce the impacted product categories and bid areas.

    “It needs to happen quickly,” Bachenheimer said.

    More transparency needed: supplier capacity, bona fide bids

    Stakeholders also plan to push for transparency on how CMS determines supplier capacity. In the past, the agency has manipulated capacity based on a provider’s historical capacity. That means, a provider may submit a bid with a supplier capacity for 100 walkers, but CMS, in looking at the provider’s historical capacity, determines it can do 200 walkers.

    “You have contract suppliers who say, ‘I was a winner and because I was the only local supplier, I was forced to do thousands of walkers, and I don’t want to do that many,’” Brummett said.

    Additionally, stakeholders plan to push for transparency on how CMS determines bona fide bids.

    “What’s the threshold for verification,” Brummett said. “We don’t feel like CMS has anything in writing. If I bid $100 on an item and my product invoice from the manufacturer says $99—to me that’s not a sustainable price; it hasn’t allotted for overhead, etc. So if a bid is X% below the ceiling, should it automatically trigger a verification?” 

    The introduction of lead-item pricing raises other questions about bona fide bids, including, will the agency apply the verification process just to the lead item, or all items?

    “We think it should apply to all items,” Bachenheimer said.

    On supplier capacity and bona fide bids, stakeholders plan to make recommendations, but they’re still “brainstorming” and “tossing around ideas” right now, they say.


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    12/07/2018
    Liz Beaulieu

    WASHINGTON – Dan Meuser, a familiar name in HME circles, won his bid to represent Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district in November, the next step in his commitment to “improving people’s lives,” he says.

    In his past role as president of Pride USA, Meuser helped to get mobility equipment into the hands of people with disabilities and senior citizens. As a new congressman, he aims to address the frustration with the current “decision-making process and lack thereof” in Congress and government agencies to “make better opportunities for people,” he says.

    Here’s what Meuser, 54, had to say about how listening is the key to accomplishing this.

    HME News: You first ran to represent Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district in 2008. Why do you think you lost that race?

    Dan Meuser: One of the reasons was I hadn’t been really active in and wasn’t really known in many of the counties that made up that district. I hadn’t earned my stripes, so to speak, to be successful in a congressional campaign. I also thought my opponent in the primary—he and I didn’t differentiate ourselves in the eyes of voters. We were both conservatives and businesspeople and new to politics. But I will tell you this: My opponent went on and lost in the general election, and I’m not sure I would have done any better.

    HME: After that loss, why did you stick with politics?

    Meuser: I really had a desire to be in public service. During my campaign, I met then State Attorney General Tom Corbett and he strongly encouraged me to be part of his campaign for governor. I had no plans to be revenue secretary, but we saw eye to eye on a number of issues, and when he won, he offered me that position.

    HME: How do you look back at the four years you were in that role?

    Meuser: I feel like I was able to apply business practices to a government agency. I wanted to treat taxpayers like customers, yet also be the tax collector. We focused on efficiency. If you don’t waste money, you have more money to invest elsewhere. I let my staff know, if you make these efficiencies, we can buy new laptops for our field staff and invest more in IT. I believe in giving people the tools to do their jobs at a high level of excellence. It’s also the little things. (Scott Meuser, the CEO of Pride,) did these birthday breakfasts or lunches where he would meet with an employee who was having a birthday and talk with them. I did that as revenue secretary and you wouldn’t believe what a hit that was. We also got great ideas and people felt more part of the agency.

    HME: How did you make the jump from revenue secretary to another campaign for the House?

    Meuser: I began 2017 very much thinking I was going to run for lieutenant governor. But when Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., decided to run for Senate, he said he thought I should run for his seat. I know this person who’s 93 who says, “Always have a quarter in your pocket in case the bus comes by.” I was prepared.

    HME: Many in the industry see you as a potentially strong ally for HME in Congress. How do you feel you’ll be able to help with industry initiatives?

    Meuser: I’m going to be a strong ally for all U.S. job creators. I believe in government plans that truly help, rather than hinder, people. The government doesn’t create jobs; it creates an environment that allows the private sector to create jobs. I want regulations that make sense. All of these macros indirectly impact the HME industry and all other industries. Many of their issues are the same, including being mis-regulated. Too often, these regulators are unaware of the unintended consequences to their actions. They don’t listen. I’m not really better equipped than anyone else, except that I'm good at listening to people. You have to listen to understand.


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    12/07/2018
    HME News Staff

    SAN DIEGO – ResMed has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Propeller Health, a company that provides connected health solutions for people living with COPD and asthma, for $225 million.

    The Madison, Wis.-based Propeller makes small sensors that easily attach to inhalers and pair with a mobile app to automatically track medication use, and provide feedback and insights. The company’s ability to support people in stage II and III severity levels of COPD are complementary to ResMed’s own suite of cloud-connected vents for those with stage III and IV COPD and its new portable oxygen concentrator.

    “Acquiring Propeller is a significant step for ResMed toward becoming the global leader in digital health for COPD,” said CEO Mick Farrell. “By working with Propeller’s existing EAST

    partners to offer digital solutions for respiratory care pharmaceuticals and building on our proven ability to support digital solutions at scale, we can positively impact the lives of even more of the 380 million people worldwide who are living with this debilitating chronic disease.”

    Under the terms of the agreement, ResMed plans to buy Propeller for $225 million, primarily using its credit facility. The companies expect to close the deal before the end of the third quarter of ResMed’s fiscal year 2019 (March 30).

    Propeller, which also has an office in San Francisco, will continue to operate as a standalone business within ResMed’s Respiratory Care portfolio. David Van Sickle, co-founder and CEO, will continue in his role, reporting to Richie McHale, president of the portfolio.

    “ResMed shares our belief that connected health solutions create vastly better experiences and outcomes for people with chronic respiratory disease,” Van Sickle said. “Joining forces enables us to accelerate the adoption of Propeller’s solutions at a global scale, and serve as a powerful platform for a broad set of pharmaceutical and healthcare partners.”

    Pride exits lift, ramp biz

    EXETER, Pa. – Pride Mobility Products has sold its lifts and ramps division to Harmar Mobility.

    The move allows Pride to focus on its efforts developing consumer-driven mobility products for its scooter, power chair and lift chair product lines.

    “We are pleased that Harmar has acquired our lifts and ramps division,” said Scott Meuser, chairman and CEO. “Our business is about consumers, and this change allows us to give consumers more of what they desire in our mobility products. We know that Harmar will continue to offer the same quality and support for our lifts and ramps, providing a seamless transition.”

    Harmar says acquiring Pride’s lift and ramp business combines “two successful vehicle-lift product lines” and solidifies its position as a “market leader.”

    “The acquisition is consistent with our strategy to build on our leadership position in vehicle lifts,” said Steve Dawson, CEO of Harmar Mobility. “The Pride team has built an impressive product line and we are excited to continue to develop and grow these products alongside the Harmar brand.”

    Harmar manufacturers stair lifts, vehicle platform lifts, and scooter and wheelchair vehicle lifts. It also has a nationwide certified support network called Liftsquad.

    Solara makes second buy since investment

    CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Solara Medical Supplies, a provider of diabetes devices, has acquired Illinois-based Huey’s Home Medical.

    “The addition of HHM in Illinois enhances Solara’s existing Midwest presence in Michigan and Ohio, and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to improving our offering to patients, suppliers and payers,” said Keith Crawford, CEO of Solara, in a press release.

    HHM, in business since 2004, is a provider of durable medical equipment and supplies.

    The deal is Solara’s second since it received an investment from Chicago-based Linden Capital Partners in May. In September, it acquired Ohio-based J.M.R. Medical, a supplier of DME and diabetes testing supplies.

    Solara, which was founded in 2002, is a supplier of continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps.

    Brown & Fortunato served as legal adviser to Solara.

    Independence HomeHealthWares sells to roll-up

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Independence HomeHealthWares has been acquired by Point Ventures.

    Independence, which was founded in 1999 by Richard Westlake and Charlene Russell, offers DME like beds, wheelchairs, bath safety items, ramps, oxygen concentrators and incontinence supplies throughout Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts.

    “I wish (Point Ventures) great success going forward,” said Westlake, Independence’s past president. “All of us are committed to helping our customers become independent of the physical challenges they are facing, and doing so with dignity and compassion.”

    Point Ventures was formed earlier this year to pursue acquisitions in in the DMEPOS industry. Todd Ackerman at Point Ventures will take over as Independence’s president.

    “On behalf of Point Ventures, we are thrilled to have completed the transaction with Richard Westlake and Charlene Russell,” he said. “Independence’s service culture is unprecedented within the home health industry, helping to improve customers’ quality of life.”

    Russell will remain as COO and Independence’s staff has been retained.

    Paragon Ventures served as the advisor to Independence during the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Aeroflow expands geographic reach

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has acquired the CPAP resupply business of Wheelock Home Medical, a Michigan-based provider that recently closed. “The transition of Wheelock’s patient base was executed in a very patient-friendly manner, and Aeroflow will ensure the patients are provided with the service and attention required to support their sleep therapy,” said Andrew Amoth, corporate development associate for Aeroflow in a press release. The provider recently announced it had acquired the CPAP resupply business of Augusta, Ga.-based Integrity Medical; and the CPAP, wound care, incontinence and urology resupply business of Polson, Mont.-based HealthCare Plus.


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    12/07/2018
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Medicare improperly paid suppliers $34 million for DME and supplies that were provided during inpatient stays, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

    Those items should have been provided directly by the inpatient facility or under arrangements between the facility and the supplier, according to the report.

    In addition, beneficiaries were improperly held responsible for deductibles and coinsurance provided during inpatient stays totaling $8.7 million.

    Medicare overpaid the suppliers because systems edits that should have prevented or detected the overpayments were not adequate. If those edits had been adequate, Medicare could have saved $223.1 million since 2008, and beneficiaries could have saved $56.3 million, according to the report.

    The OIG recommended that CMS direct contractors to recover the $34 million; that suppliers refund beneficiaries up to $8.7 million; and that the agency identify and recover any improper payments to suppliers after its audit period.

    The OIG also recommended CMS take all necessary actions, including legislative authority, to require suppliers to refund beneficiaries and correct the system edits.

    CMS concurred with all recommendations with the exception of the recommendation to seek legislative authority, stating it will consider whether to recommend the proposal for inclusion in the president’s next budget.

    VGM expands, rebrands wound care division

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM has rebranded its wound care program as VGM Wound Care. It has also expanded its tools and resources for providers currently offering wound care products or looking to get into the market. The program covers dressings, support surfaces, negative pressure wound therapy, ostomy, compression and nutrition; support materials include billing, incremental growth products, policies and educational materials. “Skin care and wound care affects each and every one of the patients HME providers work with,” said Heather Trumm, BSN, RN, CWON, director of VGM Wound Care, in a press release. “Our expanded program can help VGM members effectively offer wound care products and services to fulfill patients’ needs, all while developing another revenue stream to increase business.”  

    Health spending slows year over year, CMS study finds

    WASHINGTON – Overall health spending grew 3.9% in 2017, almost 1% slower than 2016, according to a study conducted by the Office of the Actuary at CMS and published this week by Health Affairs. Medicare spending grew 4.2% in 2017 vs. 4.3% in 2016. Slower growth in fee-for-service Medicare spending (1.4% in 2017 vs. 2.6% in 2016) offset faster growth in Medicare private health plan spending (10% vs. 8.1%). The trends in Medicare FFS and Medicare private health plan spending are attributed, in part, to an increased share of all Medicare beneficiaries enrolling in Medicare Advantage. Medicaid spending slowed, increasing 2.9% in 2017 vs. 4.2% in 2016. The reason: a deceleration in enrollment growth, and a reduction in net cost of Medicaid health insurance from an increase in recoveries from Medicaid managed care plans. State and local Medicaid expenditures grew 6.4%, while federal Medicaid expenditures increased less than 0.8%. Out-of-pocket spending, which includes direct consumer payments like copays and deductibles, grew 2.6% in 2017 vs. 4.4% in 2016.

    Aeroflow rebrands as portfolio, footprint grow

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow has updated its corporate brand and identity with a new logo with a “sleeker, modern design,” according to a blog on its website. The provider also has a new trademark phrase: “Live Better Today and Tomorrow.” The rebrand is, in part, a nod to the company’s growing line of business (it started out providing oxygen but now also provides CPAP machines, breast pumps, respiratory supplies, pediatric equipment and more) and its growing geographical footprint (it most recently acquired the CPAP resupply business of Michigan-based Wheelock Home Medical). “As we continue to expand with more healthcare products and services to better assist more patients of all ages, our national footprint will also continue to grow,” the company stated in the blog. “Which is why refreshing our brand was vital toward becoming more recognizable as a source of extraordinary care.” Aeroflow enlisted the help of Percepted and its co-founder and Creative Director Chris Enock as part of the rebrand. “Aeroflow’s new brand identity, along with the brand messaging help shape the way Aeroflow is perceived and how their products and services are valued,” he said. “Our goal was to provide Aeroflow with the tools to strengthen and create enduring relationships with customers well into the future. The new brand execution promises to do just that.”

    CQRC sends letter to Verma on vents

    WASHINGTON – The Council for Quality Respiratory Care has sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma expressing its “serious reservations” with the proposal to include home ventilators in the competitive bidding program. “The CQRC is deeply troubled and confused by the proposal to add three types of ventilation devices, which are used by highly vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries who otherwise could not remain in their homes, to the competitive bidding program before the modified policies have been implemented,” the letter states. CMS included the proposal to include ventilators, as well as off-the-shelf back and knee braces, in a recent final rule. Comments on the proposal are due Dec. 17.

    Judge presses pause on CVS-Aetna deal

    WOONSOCKET, R.I. – A federal judge has told CVS Health Corp. and Aetna not to begin their integration until he has a chance to weigh in on their $70 billion merger. CVS announced on Nov. 28 that the transaction was completed. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said, however, that the two companies have until Dec. 14 to show him why they should be allowed to continue with the integration, according to an article on modernhealthcare.com. It is unclear whether Leon has any power to forestall the integration, according to the article. A hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 18. The deal, which was first announced inDecember 2017, has raised anti-trust concerns.

    FusionHealth to collaborate with UM

    ATLANTA – FusionHealth, a sleep health technology company, will partner with the University of Michigan for Sleep SMART (Sleep for Stroke Management and Recovery Trial). The clinical trial will investigate whether OSA diagnosis and treatment improves stroke outcomes. Researchers at 110 sites will enroll 3,000 post-stroke patients while they’re still in the hospital to begin treatment right away. FusionHealth will supply the sites with sleep apnea testing and CPAP equipment, incorporating telemedicine to better monitor patient adherence and results without requiring overnight sleep apnea tests or constant clinic visits.

    Bonafide integrates with Allegiance Group

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Bonafide Management Systems now has full integration with Allegiance Group. The integration includes single sign on functionality, which provides seamless integration between Bonafide and the AR services provided by Allegiance Group. “This is definitely going to make it a lot easier for our customers to collect on all of their payments,” said Wayne Bailey, director of client service, Bonafide. “Utilizing this solution will enable DME providers to see exactly what is going on with their collection status real-time.” The integration also allows users to view Allegiance Group invoices, patient statements and patient activity, and collection status in the Bonafide system. Additionally, it allows users to automatically post payments in the system.

    higi, Bridge Connector connect patient data

    CHICAGO – A new collaboration allows for seamless integration between higi health stations using the Health Connect solution, and any EHR or hospital system using Bridge Connector technology to engage with and manage patient data. It also opens the door to connectivity of the higi platform with providers, payers, employers, retailers and others looking to connect with and manage their patient data with real-time risk identification for care intervention and ongoing preventative programs. “With over 52 million total users, higi is the leading health platform for engaging with consumers where they are,” said Jeff Bennett, CEO. “The power in our platform comes when we remove the friction between connecting the consumer with their trusted healthcare provider to allow the consumer to consent and share their data in real-time to enable additional touchpoints and timely intervention. With Bridge Connector, we continue to make it easier for consumers to be their healthiest by making healthcare better connected.” higi health stations are in 11,000 retail locations, community hubs and other points-of-care across the country, providing real-time biometric and health data nearly 1 million times per week.

    Beat SmartSaver deadline for Medtrade Spring

    LAS VEGAS – SmartSaver Conference Passes for Medtrade Spring, April 16-18 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, expire on Dec. 22. The passes are $99 and allow full access to educational sessions and the expo hall. SmartSaver Expo Passes are $25 and allow full access to the expo hall. “For those who already know they are going to Medtrade Spring, these are the rates to grab,” said Sarah Varner, marketing director. “The conference pass offers a $100 savings over Early Rates and an expo pass saves $25.”


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