In brief: 'Balanced' media, frustrated Florida providers

Sunday, March 22, 2009

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Wall Street Journal last week published an article about national competitive bidding and how the program may affect quality of service. "It offered a balanced perspective on the bidding program," said Walt Gorski, AAHomecare's vice president of government affairs. Unlike an article published by The New York Times in 2007, the article focused on the potential impact on patients. AAHomecare president Tyler Wilson, various disability organizations and one patient were quoted. So was CMS's Laurence Wilson, who used Internet pricing to argue that the agency pays too much for HME. "It's a nice sound bite but it doesn't reflect the realities of providing HME to beneficiaries," Gorski said. To read the article, go to

Representation abounds in Florida

DORAL, Fla. - Some members of the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association (AMEPA) have banded together to form the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services (FAHCS), in response to what they say was a lack of representation on state issues. The two associations are separate organizations with no formal ties; they will work together on Medicare issues, but FAHCS will spearhead state issues, according to a press release. Provider Roger Ribas of Doral, Fla.-based Home Town Medical will serve as president of the new association. AMEPA President Rob Brant will serve on its board of directors. For more information:

Rep. Boehner: Oxygen cap 'jeopardizes' patient care

WASHINGTON - Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote a letter to CMS last week, asking the agency to reconsider the 36-month reimbursement cap on home oxygen therapy for Medicare beneficiaries. In the March 18 letter to CMS Acting Administrator Charles Frizzera, Boehner stated that reimbursement should continue through a beneficiary's period of medical need. "Under this policy, I am concerned that the lack of payments for maintenance and services post-36 months will jeopardize the quality of care that patients have come to expect from their provider," he stated.

CMS publishes another accreditation reminder

BALTIMORE - CMS published a MLN Matters article last week that outlines what providers need to do if they haven't complied with the Medicare program's supplier and quality standards to become accredited. The article states providers "that have not yet done so should contact an accrediting organization right away to obtain information about the process and submit an application." Then it states, however, that these providers may or may not have their accreditation decision by the Sept. 30 deadline. Medicare will begin revoking billing privileges on Oct. 1. To view the article, go to

Neb-med pricing changes little

BALTIMORE - Average sales price (ASP) figures changed only slightly last week. Albuterol (J7613) was up a penny to 12 cents per dose and levalbuterol (J7614) increased 4 cents to 64 cents. Ipratropium (J7644) remained at 21 cents per dose and Budesonide (J7626) at $5.63. DuoNeb (J7620) slid 7 cents to 24 cents per dose and arformoterol (J7605) dropped 14 cents to $4.81.

Pride, college partner

EXETER, Pa. - Pride Mobility Products announced last week that it has partnered with the Department of Industrial Design at the Metropolitan State College in Denver to develop "new and innovative solutions" for manual and power wheelchairs. As part of the partnership, Pride will mentor 15 junior- and senior-year students during the winter semester, helping them with "design research, ideation and conceptualization and final presentation deliverables." The college will grade the students' projects, but Pride will review and comment on all submissions.

Rep. Ross leads healthcare task force

WASHINGTON - HME champion Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., will lead a new "Blue Dog Health Care Task Force" to address healthcare access and affordability issues that will put the country "back on a fiscally sustainable path." The Blue Dogs are a group of 51 fiscally conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives. The other members of the healthcare task force: Marion Berry of Arkansas, Parker Griffith of Alabama, Zack Space of Ohio, John Barrow of Georgia, Travis Childers of Mississippi, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Mike Michaud of Maine, Collin Peterson on Minnesota, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, John Tanner of Tennessee, Mike Thompson of California, and Charlie Wilson of Ohio.

Feds nab fraud fugitive

MIAMI - Federal agents nabbed a fugitive Medicare fraud defendant March 12 at the Miami International Airport. Rolando Sanchez Valle, 35, of Hialeah Gardens, was indicted on charges last September but fled to Cuba. He is accused of submitting $5.5 million in false claims for medical equipment that was never delivered to patients between March 2007 and February 2008. Medicare paid out more than $522,000 to his business, Professional Choice. Sanchez Valle is one of about 60 Cuban immigrants who have fled to Cuba since 2004 to evade Medicare fraud charges. In late January, Darvis Lazaro Leal was apprehended at Miami International on charges that he submitted $425,000 in false claims to Medicare through his business, RR Pharmacy, for medical supplies that were not prescribed by doctors and not provided to patients.

Diabetes association sounds alarm

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - March 24 marks Diabetes Alert Day. The American Diabetes Association holds Alert Day the fourth Tuesday of every March to call attention to the seriousness of Type 2 diabetes. One in five Americans is currently at risk of developing the disease. To learn more about Alert Day, visit