ABC Plus makes bid to revive neb-med biz

 - 
Friday, December 14, 2018

FORT PAYNE, Ala. – An increase in hospital readmissions for COPD patients could open the door for HME providers to re-enter a nebulizer medication market that has been dominated by national providers, says Marcus Kruk.

“There was a full complement of care that used to exist when reimbursements were good,” said Kruk, national sales and marketing director and business development for ABC Plus, an independent respiratory medication pharmacy. “Now, patients are having difficulty finding neb-med providers and they are not receiving the kind of care and education they used to get.”

To fill that gap, ABC Plus is ramping up efforts to partner with HME providers to, once again, provide neb-meds to their patients. The partnership works like this: When a provider sets a patient up with a nebulizer, they refer the patient to ABC Plus, which ships and bills Medicare for medications and follows up with the patient monthly.

“We have 15 patient care coordinators engaging patients,” Kruk said. “We ask questions that are relevant to their current situation. Each answer will determine the next question and leads us down a path to determine their potential need.”

If ABC Plus determines the patient is having an exacerbation of the disease, such as a chronic cough, they will notify the provider, who can then communicate with the doctor.

“The doctor may want the HME to go out and do an assessment,” Kruk said. “We believe our clinical assessment is a big part of keeping patients out of the emergency room. We’re proud to report a 95% compliance rate.”

The downward spiral for the neb-med market began in earnest when CMS slashed the monthly dispensing fee from $57 to $33 in 2005. Increased audits and the inclusion of nebulizers in the competitive bidding program forced many providers to walk away in 2011.

Unfortunately, in many cases, that meant walking away from other business when referral sources, not wanting to deal with multiple companies, refer everything to one large provider which not only has the largest neb-med business in the country, but also offers a full line of HME, says Kruk.

“We had many DME providers telling us they took a hit because that national was providing everything,” he said. “It’s interesting to see the dynamic change, and we are excited to help our DME partners grow their business.”