In brief: AAH, VGM coordinate advocacy efforts, KCI fights back

Friday, May 27, 2016

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare and The VGM Group will merge their respective consumer advocacy groups into one industry wide platform.

Per the merger, AAHomecare’s Save My Medical Supplies and VGM’s People for Quality Care will combine under the PFQC brand.

“This coordinated, collaborative effort builds upon our past successes, while streamlining advocacy efforts to maximize impact,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.

The groups aim to use their collective influence and resources to better reach, educate and engage consumers who have been negatively impacted by poor healthcare policies, and to share their messages with Congress.

AAHomecare officially launched Save My Medical Supplies with a website, and Facebook and Twitter pages in April 2014. Among its accomplishments: A campaign that generated more than 5,500 letters in 90 days asking Congress to reform harmful Medicare policies.

PFQC, launched by VGM in 2010, has been behind a number of initiatives aimed at fighting these policies, including a “Dear Medicare” website featuring stories of seniors and people with disabilities who are being negatively impacted; an interactive map with data on beneficiary complaints across the country; and a “Faces Behind the Red Tape” online video series specifically documenting the impact of audits on beneficiaries.

KCI fights CMS’s decision

SAN ANTONIO – KCI may have not been awarded contracts for negative pressure wound therapy as part of the Round 2 re-compete of competitive bidding, but it’s not going down without a fight.

KCI, the largest provider of NPWT, says CMS’s decision to not award contracts to the company was based on a technical disqualification that it is working to resolve.

“CMS’s decision is not final and we are working with CMS and the agency’s contractor, CBIC, to resolve the eligibility issue,” it stated in a May 19 letter to customers. “We expect to be able to share more information in the coming weeks.”

KCI did not elaborate on the technical disqualification.

The company is also exploring “alternative pathways” to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have continued access to its V.A.C. Therapy in affected areas if it is, ultimately, not awarded contracts, it stated in the letter.

KCI received about $77.1 million from Medicare for NPWT pumps (E2404) in 2014, according to the HME Databank. Total Medicare spending on that code was about $88.5 million that year.

Providers get relief from WOPD requirement

WASHINGTON – The DME MACs have clarified that a provider must obtain a five-element order prior to delivering equipment and a detailed written order prior to billing, according to AAHomecare. “Note the change to allow a DWO to be obtained before billing,” the association stated. AAHomecare then requested clarification on the denials and appeals currently in the system based on previous guidance that a WOPD does not meet the DWOPD requirement. The response from the MACs: “Changes in policy guidance are effective for dates of service on or after the article’s publication unless otherwise specified in that article.” AAHomecare’s take: “This would mean that the appeals process needs to be used for any claim previously denied.” Overall, the association says, “This development is good news for the HME community and provides some relief related to WOPD requirements.”

NFIB steps forward in support of H.R. 5210

WASHINGTON – The National Federation of Independent Business has written a letter in support of H.R. 5210, a bill that would delay the second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts scheduled for July 1. “This legislation…is critical to providing the certainty necessary for America’s small suppliers and providers to continue to meet the needs of the communities who depend on their services,” the letter states. The NFIB is a non-profit organization that represents 325,000 small and independent business owners nationwide. In April, NFIB wrote a similar letter in support of S. 2736.

Sleep group asks Oklahoma to reconsider CPAP coverage

OKLAHOMA CITY – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is urging the Oklahoma Medicaid program to reinstate coverage for sleep studies and CPAP devices for adult patients. Although the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has indicated it recognizes the benefits of sleep therapy, it cited a severe budget crisis in its decision to eliminate coverage for what it considers “optional” services, according to a press release from AASM. “These cuts will lead to increased medical expenses over time because they make it impossible to diagnose and effectively treat Medicaid patients who have obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder, and central sleep apnea,” said Vikas Jain, MD, a board-certified sleep medicine physician who practices in Oklahoma City, in the release.

NSM buys Wolf Medical

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility, which has been put up for sale by its private equity firm owner, has acquired Wolf Medical, a Rome, Ga.-based provider of complex rehab and customized mobility products. Wolf Medical’s six-person staff, including owner and ATP Gary Quellet, will join NSM. “It has gotten harder and harder over the years for us to help people and to get their feedback,” he said in a press release. “Being part of NSM will give all of us the support and resources we need to get into the community and do what we do best.” Also on staff: another experienced ATP, two service technicians, a processor and a customer service representative. With Wolf Medical’s presence in North Georgia, NSM will be able to further grow its presence in the mid-South, according to the release. It will continue to operate out of Wolf Medical’s location.

ResMed announces positive results from study

FLORENCE, Italy – A new study shows adaptive servo-ventilation therapy results in significant improvement in the primary endpoint for people with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction who have sleep disordered breathing, ResMed has announced. “These results are important because they are the first to show that addressing sleep-disordered breathing with ASV therapy may improve cardiovascular outcomes for people with preserved ejection fraction heart failure,” said Glenn Richards, ResMed’s chief medical officer. The results of this second-phase trial were presented by Christopher O’Connor, M.D., the investigator of the study and CEO and executive director of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, at the European Society of Cardiology’s 2016 Annual Heart Failure Congress on May 22. The multi-center, randomized controlled trial assessed whether the treatment of moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing with adaptive servo-ventilation therapy could improve cardiovascular outcomes in patients who were hospitalized for a sudden worsening of their heart failure symptoms over six months. The overall study results were neutral, but an analysis showed statistically significant improvement in this pre-specified subgroup.

Universal Software Solutions has ‘direct connection’ with McKesson

DAVISON, Mich. – Universal Software Solutions has added a new product availability feature, streamlining ordering for HME providers. The VendorLink companion to its HDMS allows providers to quickly place orders with McKesson Medical-Surgical, decreasing handling and warehousing costs, and eliminating re-keying and data entry orders, the software vendor says in a press release. “This new integration is a direct connection into the McKesson information system and provides instant information for the user to make decisions faster,” said Christopher Dobiesz, president of Universal Software Solutions. Specifically, the integration provides a real-time “quality on hand” option, telling the provider the status of each product, the inventory levels and the quoted ricing. The VendorLink companion is available to any provider engaged with McKesson and its drop-shop program.

Wheel:Life gets in the zone

CHICAGO – Wheel:Life will act as a facilitator at the new “Abilities Meet Up Zone” at the Chicago Abilities Expo June 24-26. “In the tradition of a town square, the zone will be a dedicated area on the show floor where attendees can engage with their peers, experience the Expo more fully, and enjoy deeper connections as they learn from and share with exhibitors and other experts in the vibrant disability community,” Wheel:Life states in a press release. Lisa Wells, founder of Wheel:Life, and her team will act as facilitators, making introductions, sparking conversations and getting like-minded people to share experiences. The zone will include a photo booth area for people to take their pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #AbilitiesChicago.

3B Medical, Somnoware partner up

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – 3B Medical and Somnoware will integrate to allow enhanced sharing of compliance data, and to offer the ability to customize activities/alerts based on compliance and diagnostic data. With a comprehensive view of 3B Medical's sleep data and a single point of access to patient information in one unified platform, providers can use Somnoware’s analytics to easily achieve the detailed outcome measurement and reporting required. The integration project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

PHS employee retires on high note

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Sandi Maguire, the former managing director of home care nursing for Pediatric Home Service, has been honored as Minnesota’s Home Care Person of the year. Maguire, who retired May 13, has been with PHS since its inception in 1990. “Sandi has played an integral role in making home care what it is today in the state of Minnesota,” said PHS President Mark Hamman. “Her involvement from the very early days of home care, when it was rarely even considered an option, helped to make PHS the innovative company it is and continues to be today.”

Ombudsman to hold roundtable

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. – The Office of the National Ombudsman will host a roundtable here on June 3 to give small business owners a chance to speak about regulatory issues, like competitive bidding, that have had a negative impact. A similar roundtable was held in March in Cheyenne, Wyo. The roundtable is free but registration is required, and seating is limited.

Short takes: Benzer, National Sleep, DMERX, Munson

Benzer Pharmacyhas launched to offer convenience for customers. The Tampa, Fla.-based pharmacy’s offerings include aids to daily living, back and neck therapy, beds and accessories, diabetes care and wheelchair accessories…National Sleep & Respiratory has become an in-network provider with Tufts Health Plan. The Concord, N.H.-based provider holds competitive bidding contracts for respiratory products that will allow it to service Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine…PMDRX has changed its name to DMERX to reflect its expanded exam and documentation offerings. The Glendale, Ariz.-based company has also added an orthotic exam and documentation component…Munson Home Medical Equipment will hold a grand opening at its new location in Cadillac, Mich., on June 7. The provider will offer a variety of HME, including beds, wheelchairs, oxygen equipment, CPAP devices and more.