In brief: Apria ditches SEC reports, Invacare outsources IT

Friday, January 24, 2014

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare will no longer file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a Form-8K dated Jan. 21. Apria was obligated to file periodic reports with the SEC pursuant to the terms of indenture governing the company’s outstanding 12.375% senior secured notes due 2014. On Jan. 16, however, the company provided a notice of redemption for all of its notes and effected a satisfaction and discharge of the company’s obligation under the indenture. “As a result, the company is no longer obligated to and will not voluntarily file reports with the SEC,” the form states.In April 2013, Apria announced that it had obtained a term loan credit facility of $900 million and had issued notices of redemption for $700 million of its outstanding 11.25% senior secured notes (series A-1) and $160 million of its outstanding 12.375% senior secured notes (series A-2), both due in 2014. In November, Apria further reduced its debt when it sold its home infusion business, Coram, to CVS Caremark for $2.1 billion. In its most recent earnings call on Nov. 12, Apria reported net revenues of $607.2 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2013, a decreases of $1.3 million from the same quarter in 2012. The company blamed the decrease on the reimbursement cuts that took effect July 1, 2013, as part of Round 2 of competitive bidding.

Invacare plans to outsource IT

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare plans to outsource its information technology division to the Japanese company NTT Data, according to The Chronicle-Telegram. The move means dissolving the company’s 24-person in-house IT department. Employees will be able to interview with NTT Data, and those not hired will be laid off with severance packages, according to the newspaper. “It is my understanding that a majority will receive positions with NTT onsite or elsewhere,” said spokeswoman Lara Mahoney. “They will also be offered a position at the same salary scale.” Invacare is in the process of working through a third and final third-party audit required as part of a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Medicare beneficiaries blast audits in new video

WATERLOO, Iowa – In a new video, People for Quality Care (PFQC), the advocacy arm of The VGM Group, zooms in on CMS’s crippling audit program. “CMS payment denials occur due to paperwork errors and ignore the medical necessity of equipment for individuals with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities,” the PFQC states in a release. “Denials cause unnecessary burden on patients, caregivers and family members.” The eight-minute video features patients of Mobility Medical, a Dallas-based provider that is currently appealing denials for up to 80 patients. One of those patients: Phillip. His physician forgot to include a sentence in her notes indicating that she had referred him to a seating specialist in her clinic. “Twenty-eight years in a wheelchair and I’ve never had an issue until now,” Phillip says in the video. Mobility Medical operates at a loss when Medicare delays payments, because it has often already provided the needed equipment and services. “(While Mobility Medical) has filled in the gaps that Medicare policies have left…many Medicare patients across the country are not so lucky,” the PFQC states.

Bid program limits access to meters, group says

CHICAGO – Competitive bidding limits patient access to the most accurate blood-glucose meters, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) says. The group found that only three of the 23 contract suppliers they surveyed are providing all the brands of testing supplies that they told Medicare they would provide, according to a release. “This study shows that the national mail-order program is limiting access to diabetes testing supplies,” said Chief Advocacy Officer Martha Rinker. A separate survey by the AADE found that 27% of patients with Type 1 diabetes and 9% of patients with Type 2 diabetes experienced health problems related to inaccurate readings.

Ottobock to relocate headquarters

MINNEAPOLIS – Ottobock is relocating its North American headquarters from Minneapolis to Austin, Texas, the company has announced. It’s part of a wider move that will see fabrication and service moved to Salt Lake City and warehousing and logistics moved to Louisville, Ky. “As Ottobock looked to the future, we sought locations that will help us to best serve our customers in the decades to come,” a release states. “Regional expertise and an environment where our employees and the organization could flourish were our top considerations, as is our continuing commitment to improving patient outcomes and supporting clinical excellence.”

Name changes for Sleep Nation, CPAP Care Club

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sleep Nation and CPAP Care Club have changed their names to Verus Healthcare to better reflect an expanding product portfolio that includes catheters and nebulizers. The new products are in response to customer feedback, according to a release. "Since we are now receiving well over a thousand patient satisfaction surveys per month, we are able to clearly see that our customers want us to provide a variety of products to them," said President Richardson Roberts in the release. "We also realized that the software platform we've built and the capabilities of our employees are well-suited to support catheters and nebulizer products nationwide." Verus says it tripled its number of customers in 2013 and expects that trend, buoyed by the new products, to continue in 2014. Sleep Nation, which accepted competitive bidding contacts in all 50 states, has acquired more than 40 sleep providers since launching in May 2012.

Liberator claims no knowledge of unusual market activity

STUART, Fla. – Liberator Medical doesn’t know why its stock prices fell sharply the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 21, according to a release. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), in accordance with its usual practice, contacted Liberator when the company’s stock fell from $5.9942 to $4.18 in a matter of hours of trading. While its policy, in general, is not to comment on unusual market activity, Liberator said it “knows of no event or series of events that could have caused such market activity,” according to the release. Two days later, on Jan. 23, Liberator’s stock was back at $5.31.

University of Arizona receives $2M grant to study sleep apnea

TUSCON, Ariz. – Scientists from the University of Arizona have received a $2 million grant to study whether telephone counseling helps sleep apnea patients stick with their treatment plans. Researchers will examine how outcomes, quality of life and treatment adherence are affected when community volunteers counsel patients over the phone, according to a release. "Fragmentation of care can lead to poor treatment adherence in patients with chronic medical conditions that can, in turn, lead to adverse health consequences, poor quality of life and patient dissatisfaction," said Sairam Parthasarathy, research team leader, associate professor of medicine at the university’s College of Medicine and medical director of its Center for Sleep Disorders. "We will use sleep apnea—a very common condition that affects 7% to 12% of the U.S. population—as an example condition to test the effect of community volunteer engagement, combined with the universal availability of personal cellphones, on the problem of poor care coordination and treatment adherence to the CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.” The study is one of 82 recently funded by the non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Rights group: Beneficiaries struggle under Medicare

NEW YORK – Beneficiaries find Medicare expensive and confusing, the Medicare Rights Center has found. The center’s findings are based on an analysis of more than 14,000 calls made to its national helpline in 2012. “This analysis of our national helpline makes clear that too many people with Medicare are burdened by high healthcare costs, and too many struggle to navigate the complexities of the Medicare program,” said Joe Baker, president, in a release. The center found that Medicare households spend 14% of their budgets on health care, versus 5% for non-Medicare households. It also found that a lack of accurate information led newly enrolling beneficiaries to face late enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage and delayed treatment. Additionally, the center found an inefficient appeals system and constantly changing coverage rules pose barriers to medical care. The center calls for expanded access to and automatic enrollment in low-income assistance programs, a streamlined and accessible appeals process, and better communications with those transitioning into Medicare.

Incontinence market to reach $17B by 2020, study says

SAN FRANCISCO – The worldwide market for incontinence and ostomy supplies will grow from $11.5 billion in 2012 to $17 billion by 2020, according to a Grand View Research study published Jan. 17. High rates of incontinence, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis, combined with higher demand for home and institutional healthcare and greater patient awareness, are driving the growth, according to the release. Absorbent disposable products dominate the market, accounting for more than 85% of revenue in 2012, according to the report. While North America holds the largest market share—more than 35% in 2012—the market is growing the fastest in the Asia-Pacific region, the report states.

Gov’t to invest $10M in O&P research

WASHINGTON –Congress has instructed the Department of Defense (DOD) to invest $10 million to research orthotics and prosthetics outcomes and support educational advances, according to the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA). Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., worked with the association to get the funding included in a recently enacted budget bill. AOPA is now in conversations with congressional offices and DOD officials to suggest some of the key areas where these funds should be spent.

Ride-Away surprises family on hit TV show

ADDISON, Texas – On today’s episode of “The Doctors,” Ride-Away will present Natalie and Timothy Rogers with a wheelchair accessible van to help them transport their son, Jaiden, who suffers stiff skin syndrome. The Rogers say the van will enable Jaiden to go to school, according to a release. “Once we heard about Jaiden’s challenge, we knew that, as the leader in our industry, we had to make getting from place to place one less challenge that he had to face daily,” said Bob Desmarais, Ride-Away president, in the release. “We were honored to help him and his family with a van.” Ride-Away, a subsidiary of Hasco Medical, worked with BraunAbility to find a suitable van.

Just Home Medical launches online resource

FULTON, Md. – Just Home Medical’s new online Medical Resource Center aims to answer consumer questions through an FAQ section and a blog. The resource center features articles on 17 topics, including asthma and diabetes, and more will be added, according to the release. “Our consumer base is as diverse as the range of products we offer, and we wanted to give them a place where they could find tips tailored to their specific needs,” said Bryan Mercer, founder, in the release. “It’s the informational equivalent of our one-stop-shopping destination.” In addition to receiving helpful tips twice a week, visitors may submit questions to be answered by health experts, including a registered pharmacist, pediatric nurse practitioner and registered dietician.

Women’s health trade show set for March 16-18

OXFORD, Mich. – Essentially Women will hold its annual educational conference and trade show March 16-18 in Reno, Nev., according to a Jan. 20 release. The show, called Focus on the Future, is host to exhibits from manufacturers and distributors of women’s health care products, including post-surgery, compression, orthopedics and lymphedema products. Accreditation, software, billing and breast-cancer awareness products will also be on display, according to the release. In addition to exhibits, attendees can sit in on courses on business development, management, sales, marketing, merchandising, accreditation, lobbying and Medicare. Other presentations will address the screening and detection of breast cancer, and billing Medicare for external breast prostheses.

Tandem expands voluntary recall of insulin cartridges

SAN DIEGO – Tandem Diabetes Care is expanding the voluntary recall of certain lots of insulin cartridges used with the t:slim insulin pump, the company announced Jan. 20. The cartridges may leak, which could result in the pump delivering too much or too little insulin, according to the statement. “We are confident that we have identified all of the affected cartridge lots that may have been shipped to customers or distributors and that we have implemented appropriate corrective actions to prevent this from happening in the future,” said Kim Blickenstaff, Tandem president and CEO, in the release. Affected lots shipped between Dec. 17, 2013, and Jan. 10, 2014, or before Oct. 16, 2013, according to the release.

OIG to CMS: Review oversight process for CERT

BALTIMORE – The error rate reduction plans of Medicare claims administrator contractors are not always relevant to CERT results and vary substantially in number, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). CMS oversight of error rate reduction plans is limited and the staff that reviewed the plans may have been unable to determine whether the plans addressed their most recent CERT results, the OIG found. “Additionally, although some of the sampled plans did not include the five required elements or were for contracts with high error rates, CMS approved all sampled plans without recommending different or additional corrective actions,” the OIG stated. The OIG recommends CMS review its oversight process, ensure contractors submit clear error-reduction plans, provide more guidance for those who review the plans, and provide incentives aligned with error rates and performance periods. CMS agreed with the recommendations.

Hasco launches updated website

ADDISON, Texas – Hasco Medical has overhauled its Mobility Freedom website, adding inventory search capabilities and an interactive interface to help consumers search for wheelchair vans. “We determined there is not a perfect off-the-shelf software solution in the automotive market that helps our consumers find the perfect wheelchair van,” said Damon Didier, marketing director, in a release. “We designed our custom inventory search tools with our customers in mind, enabling them to categorize and search on the unique features people needing a wheelchair van are searching for.” Customers can use the site to fill out credit applications or contact stores and mobility consultants, according to the release.

Short takes

The American Association of Breast Care Professionals has redesigned its website based on surveys and member calls. The website now features government relations information, study materials, a calendar of classes and webinars, social media and a blog for news alerts…The Innovative HME Retail Product Awards, debuted at last year’s Medtrade, will be featured at Medtrade Spring, March 10-12. Judges will select the best new items based on functionality, quality and durability, aesthetics and style, environmental sustainability and ease of retail setup and pricing…Paragon Ventures, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has been named the 2013 U.S. Deal Maker of the Year by Acquisition International. The company also won the Lawyers Choice Award as Healthcare M&A Advisory of the Year and the 2013 Pennsylvania Excellence In Commerce Award.

People news

Brian Borger is the new executive director of Freeport, Ill.-based Freeport Home Medical Equipment. Most recently the financial center manager of 5/3 Bank, Borger has experience in business management, staff development and finance, according to a release…Patrick Ryan has been named COO of Insulet Corporation. Most recently COO and international president of Alphatec Spine, Ryan has experience in global supply chains and is an experienced medical device executive, according to a release…Craig Weber has been named CEO of Home Care Delivered. Weber previously served as the company’s CFO and executive vice president for corporate development, and helped the company obtain capital to fuel its growth.