In brief: Awards, fraud wrap-up, diabetes deal

Sunday, September 9, 2007

2007 HME Excellence Awards finalists announced
YARMOUTH, Maine - Nine finalists for the 2007 HME Excellence Awards--sponsored by HME News--have been chosen, and the winners will be announced at Medtrade next month.

The HME Excellence Awards seek to identify the nation's premier providers of home medical equipment, home respiratory therapy and rehab supplies. The goal of these awards is to recognize the outstanding achievements of providers who excel in an industry full of difficult challenges.

Now in its fifth year, the HME Excellence Awards program has become the most coveted form of recognition in the industry.

This year's finalists are:

Home Medical Equipment
Valley Home Care, Winchester, Va.
Norco, Boise, Idaho.
Medical Service Company, Cleveland, Ohio

Home respiratory therapy
Advocate Home Care Products, Inc., Oak Brook, Ill.
Resp-I-Care Home Medical Services, Kingsport, Tenn.
J&L Medical Services, Waterbury, Conn.

Central Medical Equipment Co., Harrisburg, Pa
Health Aid of Ohio, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Inland Medical & Rehab, Spokane, Wa.

Kickback free-for-all
MIAMI - A federal jury has convicted Marianela Smith, owner of Smith Medical Equipment and M.P. Residence, of Medicare fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida announced Sept. 3. Smith allegedly paid kickbacks to physicians to obtain phony prescriptions for compounded aerosol medications and received kickbacks from pharmacy owners to refer false prescriptions. Additionally, Smith allegedly paid kickbacks to patients to accept unnecessary treatments. She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. She faces sentencing Nov. 9.
In 2006, the Medicare program paid for more than $155 million worth of aerosol medications in Miami-Dade County alone, according to the U.S. Attorney's release. From 2005 to 2006, claims for the medication rose about 115%.
Provider pleads guilty
MIRAMAR, Fla. - Raul Rodriguez is the eighth defendant to plead guilty in a $6.4 million healthcare fraud and money-laundering scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida announced Sept. 2. Rodriguez pled guilty to four separate counts of an April 2007 indictment. Rodriguez and others allegedly submitted more than $12.5 million in false and fraudulent claims for DME, expensive HIV treatments and related medications. Rodriguez allegedly recruited and then paid patients to attend their clinic, Coral Way Professional Health Services. Rodriguez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and more than $12.8 million in potential fines.

Diabetes provider continues buying spree
SUNRISE, Fla. - NationsHealth acquired Diabetes Care & Education for $2.5 million in cash, a move that will combine the companies' insulin pump and diabetes education programs.

NationsHealth may also pay additional cash amounts based on annual revenue targets associated with DC&E's pump and education operations in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The move is NationsHealth's seventh buy since May and gives the company 13,000 new diabetes patients.

"We are very excited about our acquisition of Diabetes Care & Education which supports our long-term goal of expanding our business into new areas of the diabetes patient market, as well as expanding our current product offerings to our customers," stated Glenn Park, CEO of NationsHealth.

DC&E's founder and president, Susan Hill, will lead the programs.