In brief: AAH reports drop in suppliers, Trustees report shaky finances

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Friday, June 8, 2018

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare’s latest analysis shows a 33% decrease in the number of unique traditional DME suppliers since the beginning of competitive bidding and a 31% decrease in the number of traditional DME supplier locations.

The states with the biggest reductions in the number of unique traditional DME suppliers from November 2010 to January 2018 are Florida (52%), California (45%), Illinois (42%) and Texas (39%).

AAHomecare says its analysis doesn’t include big merchandisers like Walmart—only what it considers “traditional suppliers.” The association defines “traditional suppliers” as those that provide at least two of the following product categories: oxygen, CPAP, NPWT, RAD, hospital beds, wheelchairs and accessories, urological supplies, enteral supplies and ostomy supplies.

AAHomcare obtained the data for its analysis through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Previously, AAHomecare was conducting its analysis using a supplier directory on CMS’s website. Last year, however, after the association published its July 2017 analysis, it was notified of changes to the directory that resulted in “new numbers not corresponding to previous analysis.”

AAHomecare now plans to release an analysis each quarter, via a FOIA request.

Medicare’s finances get shakier

WASHINGTON – Part of the Medicare Trust Fund will run out of money three years earlier than expected, according to a new report from the Medicare Board of Trustees.

The report says Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will become insolvent in 2026 and will no longer be able to fully cover inpatient care.

The report also says the Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund, which covers Medicare Parts B and D, is expected to be adequately financed in all years, because premium income and general revenue incomes are reset annually to cover expected costs. The fund had $88 billion in assets at the end of 2017. The report warns, however, that an aging population and rising healthcare costs are causing SMI projected costs to increase from 2.1% of the gross domestic product to 3.6% in 2037.

The report projects that total Medicare costs (including both HI and SMI expenditures) will grow from approximately 3.7% of GDP in 2017 to 5.8% of GDP by 2038, and then increase gradually thereafter to about 6.2% of GDP by 2092.

The report notes that CMS continues to enact policies to strengthen the Medicare program and lower costs for Medicare recipients. Those policies include creating a patient-driven healthcare system with greater price transparency and interoperability; and removing outdated regulations.

CMS is also increasing choice in Medicare Advantage programs, and is working to lower the cost of drugs for seniors.

GAO: MCOs need more oversight

WASHINGTON – CMS should take steps to mitigate program risks in managed care, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

About 0.3% of the $171 billion that Medicaid paid managed care organizations for 2017 was improper, the GAO found.

CMS’s estimate of improper payments for managed care has limitations that are not mitigated by current oversight efforts, the GAO says. One component of the Payment Error Rate Measurement measures the accuracy of capitated payments made to MCOs. However, the managed care component of PERM doesn’t include medical review of services delivered to enrollees or reviews of MCO records or data.

Overpayments and unallowed costs that are not identified and removed from the cost data used to set capitation rates may allow inflated MCO payments and minimize the appearance of risks, the GAO says.

The GAO found 10 of the 27 federal and state audits and investigations conducted identified about $68 million in overpayments and unallowable MCO costs that were not accounted for by PERM estimates. Another investigation resulted in a $137.5 million settlement.

These audits and investigations were conducted over more than 5 years and involved a small fraction of the more than 270 MCOs operating nationwide as of September 2017, the GAO says.

Mobility movers: NSM makes pair of acquisitions, Numotion expands in Midwest

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has acquired the custom rehab division of The Medical Store in South Burlington, Vt., and its home access division, AccessNSM, has acquired Home Safe in Tampa, Fla.

The Medical Store’s custom rehab division broadens NSM’s footprint across the region, adding statewide coverage in Vermont and supplementing the reach of existing branches to extend services into New Hampshire.

“Expanding with new locations allows us to positively impact the lives of more individuals with mobility challenges,” said Bill Mixon, CEO. “We look forward to partnering with healthcare providers to serve clients in these communities.”

Four ATPs from The Medical Store will transition to NSM.

Chris Henry, the owner of The Medical Store, will continue to grow the company’s sleep therapy business, as well as its line of retail HME.

Home Safe, a national full-service home modification and accessibility provider, accelerates NSM’s growing position as a national provider in the market, according to a press release.

“This acquisition not only significantly expands our footprint, but also enhances our nationwide network of branches and mobility experts with the addition of a team of experience home accessibility experts,” Mixon said.

Home Safe’s co-founder Ward Farley will stay on board with NSM, continuing to lead the Tampa operation; and Ferenc Moricz, an ATP, will join NSM there to provide support through “a CRT lens to ensure a clinically holistic approach to accessibility within the home.”

Home Safe is a preferred provider for many third-party payers, including workers’ compensation administrators and Veterans Affairs facilities.

Numotion extends reach in Nebraska, Iowa

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has acquired the rehab division of Omaha, Neb.-based Midwest Respiratory & Rehab, extending its reach into Nebraska and Iowa.

“We are excited about expanding in Nebraska and Iowa,” said Mike Swinford, CEO, Numotion. “We are always looking for ways to better serve customers and provide them with innovative mobility solutions. Midwest’s reach, coupled with our product and service offerings, provides the disabled community with the best resources available in the market.”

Midwest’s rehab employees will be integrated into Numotion’s north central team. They will gain access to a larger product offering and support infrastructure to increase efficiency, according to a press release.

The acquisition does not include Midwest’s non-complex rehab product lines.

“We are pleased to continue to serve our vent and respiratory customers, as well as continue our services with hospice and nursing home equipment rental throughout the Midwest,” said Mick Hall, vice president, Midwest.

Reliable Respiratory buys Mount Auburn Hospital DME

NORWOOD, Mass. – Reliable Respiratory has acquired Mount Auburn Hospital DME in Cambridge, Mass., and will open a new facility there, it announced June 6. “We are honored that the folks at Mount Auburn have trusted us with their patients, and we are glad to welcome them, and their providers, into the Reliable family,” said Eric Mongeau, vice president of sales & marketing. “With the new facility, we will continue to provide the best sleep medicine products and top-notch service to our new members to ensure they receive the best care and adherence to therapy plans.” In addition to its headquarters in Norwood, Reliable Respiratory has locations in Springfield and Worcester, Mass.; Merrimack, N.H.; White River Junction, Vt.; and South Portland, Maine.

Solara Medical Supplies receives PE investment

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Solara Medical Supplies has received an investment from Linden Capital Partners, a Chicago-based healthcare private equity firm. Solara is a direct-to-consumer provider of continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps and other diabetes supplies. Ron Labrum, Linden operating partner, and Keith Crawford, Linden adviser, have been named chairman and CEO, respectively. “Solara founder Tod Robinson and his team have built an extraordinary business,” said Crawford, in a press release. “I look forward to working with Tod and carrying on the company’s strong employee culture and commitment to providing exceptional service to patients, manufacturers and payers.”

Bengt Thorsson named new CEO at Permobil

LEBANON, Tenn. – Bengt Thorsson will succeed Jon Sintron as CEO at Permobil, when Sintron steps down Aug. 31, after nine years at the helm. “Jon Sintorn has led Permobil during nine years of fast growth and transition,” said Martin Lundstedt, chairman of the board of directors, in a press release. “I am grateful for Jon’s valuable contribution and the outstanding progress Permobil has achieved during his time as CEO.”In the past decade, Permobil has grown from a niche player to a global leader in advanced rehab technology. Thorsson is currently president EMEA at Dometic and has held various positions at Scania.

Motivo receives funding

MILWAUKEE – Motivo has completed a $950,000 Series A round of financing, bringing the personal mobility device manufacturer’s total funding to $4.8 million, it announced in a press release today. The new round of funding will help the company further develop and scale its new in-house manufacturing capabilities, and support the national launch and advertising campaign for its 2018 Motivo Tour Walker. “This funding represents an important growth milestone for Motivo,” said Jeremy Knopow, Motivo co-founder. “With this Series A complete, our team has been able to scale up manufacturing with new equipment, hire new employees and has allowed us to solidify our go-to-market strategy for the national launch of the new 2018 Tour this summer.”

FDA clears Omnipod DASH

BILLERICA, Mass. – Insulet Corp. has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Omnipod DASH Insulin Management System. The Omnipod DASH features an easy-to-read, touch-screen PDM; user-friendly steps to manage basal rates; and a food library. Bluetooth technology allows for connectivity between the device and the Pod, as well as the Omnipod Display and View apps. It also allows users to monitor their data on their smart phones. “Omnipod DASH was inspired by Podders and embodies what users on multiple daily injections have been asking for in a diabetes management system,” said Patrick Sullivan, chairman and CEO. “Our No. 1 priority is to continue to minimize the daily strain on those impacted by diabetes and we are confident this system, and eliminating the system’s upfront cost, do just that.” The DASH is free with the purchase of Pods.

Bridge Connector gets startup funding

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Bridge Connector, an integration platform as a service that delivers streamlined solutions for healthcare organizations, has received $4.5 million in startup funding, led by Axioma Ventures. The financing will be used to hire developers and bolster its support, sales and management teams. “We are excited to back Bridge Connector, which has created an innovative ‘industry-first’ for healthcare organizations to automatically transfer data between disparate systems," said Howard Jenkins, co-founding partner of Axioma Ventures and former CEO of Publix Super Markets, who has also joined Bridge Connector as chief strategy officer and a board member. "It's a great example of thinking outside the box and leveraging the value of existing healthcare systems, rather than being disruptive for the sake of it.”

Parachute Health attracts second round of funding

NEW YORK ­– Parachute Health has attracted $9.5 million in new funding to expand its e-prescribing platform into key markets across the United States. Parachute provides a seamless, all-digital solution for ordering home medical equipment and services after patients are discharged from hospitals. The new funding was led by Harley Miller and Dan Ahrens of Insight Venture Partners, and includes investment from GNYHA Ventures, the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, and Anthony Welters, formerly of UnitedHealth Group. Parachute previously raised $5.5 million in funding from a group of investors that includes Loeb Holding Corp. Parachute is already being used by healthcare facilities across the country, including the Hospital for Special Surgery, Visiting Nurse Service of New York and Stanford Hospital.

ResMed: Bi-level therapy can save adherence

BALTIMORE – A ResMed-sponsored study shows that shifting patients who are struggling with adherence to a PAP device to a more advanced bi-level device in the first 90 days of treatment is an effective tool in more than half of cases. In the study, ResMed compared 1,496 non-compliant patients who switched to bi-level therapy and found that compliance was achieved by 58.5% of patients who switched before day 60, 54.2% of patients who switched between days 60-90, and 56.8% of patients overall. “Finding the right mode of therapy made all the difference to those patients who are struggling with initial adherence to therapy,” said ResMed Chief Medical Officer Carlos M. Nunez, M.D. “This strongly suggests that bilevel devices provide a powerful alternative therapy that physicians and HMEs can utilize to help improve non-compliant patients’ treatment experience and outcomes.” The study was presented this week at SLEEP, an annual joint meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. A bi-level device delivers two distinct pressures, one for inhalation and one for exhalation, and can be prescribed for patients who are pressure intolerant or have continued evidence of apnea at higher pressures.

Medtrade starts Smart Saver rates

ATLANTA – SmartSaver rates (formerly Early Bird rates) for this year’s Medtrade, Oct. 15-17, at the Georgia World Congress Center, go into effect June 11. SmartSaver rates last 18 days, ending June 29. Under SmartSaver rates, an Expo-only pass costs $25; and a conference pass, which includes full access to the Expo, costs $109. Click here to register.

Aeroflow donates to Nicaraguan mission

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has donated four pediatric nebulizers and 30 inhaler spacers to treat Nicaraguan children suffering from respiratory disorders like asthma or chronic bronchitis. The company made the donation after learning that Dr. Teresa Herbert of Park Ridge Hospital in Hendersonville, N.C., was joining her daughter on a mission in Nicaragua and needed respiratory equipment. "It is such a privilege to both work with and contribute to an organization with such a great cause," said Brice Rowland, a patient care coordinator at Aeroflow. "Dr. Herbert's passion for child care in such an impoverished area is very inspiring and humbling. It is an honor for Aeroflow to give back and be able to make a difference so far away from home."

Short takes: Brightree, Uni-flo2, Sunrise Medical

Atlanta-based Brightree has been ranked No. 71 in Healthcare Informatics Magazine’s listing of the Top 100 healthcare information technology companies for 2018. It’s the fifth consecutive year the company has appeared on the list. The Healthcare Informatics 100 is a compilation of the top HIT companies based on revenues from the most recent fiscal year…The Uni-flo2 single-nasal cannula system reports positive responses from a patient satisfaction survey, with 98% finding the system to be more comfortable, stable and secure. The Uni-flo2 ensures continuous oxygen flow equivalent to the low flow dual-pronged cannula but with half the skin contact…Fresno, Calif.-based Sunrise Medical supports the theme for this year’s World Environment Day: “Beat Plastic Pollution.” As an example of its support, the company noted that its U.K. operation has achieved zero waste to landfill, replaced their fleet of forklift trucks with ones that are 27% more energy efficient and introduced a formalized e-learning environment tool for employees.

State news: Connecticut Medicaid drops requirement

HARTFORD – HME providers will no longer have to retain the original signature on prescriptions and proof of delivery for Medicaid patients for claims on or after July 1, 2018, according to HOMES. “This is a huge win for our Connecticut members,” said Karyn Estrella, president and CEO of the association. “We’ve been fighting this for years. With the strain of continuing reimbursement cuts, our members need regulatory relief.” Gov. Dannel Malloy signed S.B. 243, “An Act Concerning Audits of Medical Assistance Providers,” into law on June 1. The lobbying group TCORS Capitol Group helped providers get the bill introduced and passed in the state legislature. Stakeholders were anticipating a bulletin from Connecticut Medicaid in the next few weeks.