In brief: AAH hustles for attendees, Luxfer shuffles operations

Sunday, January 27, 2008

WASHINGTON – When it comes to AAHomecare’s Legislative Conference, industry supporters are putting up a lot of money to encourage providers to attend the annual lobbying event.

“That is the purpose of having a war chest,” said Tim Pederson, CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D., and a member of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services (MAMES). “It doesn’t do us any good to just sit on it. If we don't use it now to help, we may not have an industry to worry about spending it on later.”

This year’s conference will be held March 4-6, 2008, at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, in Washington, D.C. With lawmakers likely to revisit reducing the oxygen cap and eliminating the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs later this year, attendance is key to the event’s success. That’s why many industry organizations are going above and beyond to that end.

To encourage its 21 board members to attend the Legislative Conference, for example, MAMES has offered to give each $1,000 to help defray expenses, which typically run about $1,500 between registration, travel and hotel expenses. If a board member can’t attend, MAMES will contribute $500 to the member who takes his place, provided they are from the same state (MAMES includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota).

Last year, MAMES gave $500 to any member who trekked to the conference and logged its best attendance ever: 10, said Executive Director Rose Schafhauser.

“We keep telling our members that we have to get active, and we’re trying to put our money where our mouth is,” she said.

The VGM Group is also pitching in bigtime. The member-service organization will give a state association $500 if it sends at least one member to the conference. Regional associations that represent five or more states get $1,000 if they send at least two members to the event, said John Gallagher, VGM’s vice president of government relations.

To be eligible for the scholarships, recipients must be association members who have not previously attended the fly-in event in Washington. To gain maximum participation, VGM will offer an additional $500 to each state association that brings three or more first-time attendees and $1,000 to each regional association that brings six or more eligible recipients.

“Time is a factor and money is a factor,” said Beth Bowen, executive director of both the North Carolina Association for Medical Equipment Suppliers (NCAMES) and the Virginia Association of Durable Medical Equipment Companies (VADMEC). “We can’t give anyone more time, but at least we can help with the money part.”

Last year, 23 members of NCAMES attended the conference, including one member from each of the state’s 13 legislative districts. As incentive, NCAMES sponsored one person from each district, picking up the registration fee and two nights in a hotel. This year, the association will sponsor two members from each district, and in a January conference call, Bowen challenged other state associations to do the same.

VADMEC has already accepted the challenge and has agreed to sponsor one attendee from each of its 11 districts, Bowen said.

“I sort of had that in the bag,” she said.

Last year, 225 people attended the Legislative Conference. In late January, AAHomecare was “way ahead of where we were last year registration-wise,” thanks in part to the good work of VGM and various state associations, said Michael Reinemer, vice president of communications and policy.

Luxfer shuffles manufacturing operations
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Luxfer Gas Cylinders plans a restructuring that will eliminate 140 jobs and move its aluminum cylinder manufacturing from Riverside to its plants in North Carolina and England. The company will consolidate its two U.S. composite cylinder plants in the Riverside facility, along with its large-diameter composite liner manufacturing operations. Service center operations will cease. The restructuring is aimed at increasing manufacturing efficiencies, said President John Rhodes in a press release. “This comprehensive restructuring is the result of a detailed analysis of ways to improve our manufacturing practices and to make best use of our global facilities," he stated. The company expects to finish restructuring by September 2008.

Diabetes costs soar
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Costs associated with diabetes were $174 billion in 2007, including $116 billion in medical expenditures and $58 billion in lost productivity, says a new study released by the American Diabetes Association Jan. 21. Medical costs include $27 billion for direct diabetes care and $58 billion to treat related complications. Inpatient hospital care accounted for 50% of total medical expenses, followed by medication and supplies (12%), retail prescriptions to treat complications (11%), and doctor's visits (9%). People with diabetes average $11,744 in medical expenses, $6,649 of which is attributed to diabetes.

Wound care denials decrease
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Payment denials dropped nearly 14% for negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) in Jurisdiction B during the fourth quarter. Tricenturion's review of E2402 revealed a denial rate of 61.01%, down from 74.58% the previous quarter. The review found that 32% of claims were paid and 51% were denied because coverage criteria was not met. Of the claims denied, 20% were denied because no medical records were submitted and 80% were denied because information did not meet policy criteria. Another 17% of claims were denied for non-response. The review will continue.