In brief: Bills get bump, CMS touts MA plans

Friday, September 19, 2014

WASHINGTON – A legislative fly-in on Sept. 10 spearheaded by The MED Group and supported by AAHomecare resulted in 100 meetings with lawmakers. The topics of discussion at the meetings: bills to reform the competitive bidding and audit programs, H.R. 4920 and H.R. 5083, respectively. “These bills are gaining momentum and our presence on the Hill should make a difference,” said Jeff Woodham, senior vice president and general manager of The MED Group, in a press release. Currently, the bid bill has 49 co-sponsors; the audit bill, 36. AAHomecare officials helped to manage the appointment process, provided briefing materials and joined in on the meetings. “Working together on our HME legislative priorities—through back-home meetings, letters to Capitol Hill, and face-to-face meetings in D.C.—will ultimately be what makes the difference in getting these bills passed and enacted into law,” said Tom Ryan, CEO of AAHomecare, in the release. Congress was expected to recess Friday until after the elections.

CMS touts popularity, value of MA plans

WASHINGTON – Enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in 2015 is projected to increase to a new all-time high, CMS announced Sept. 18. Premiums are expected to remain affordable, as well, the agency says. “Seniors and people with disabilities are benefiting from a transparent and competitive marketplace for Medicare health and drug plans,” stated CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a press release. The annual open enrollment period for Medicare and drug plans begins Oct. 15. Between 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was enacted, and 2015, enrollment in MA plans is expected to increase 42% and premiums are expected to decrease 6%. For 2015, MA plans submitted average premiums that were $2.94 higher, but CMS estimates premiums will be only $1.30 higher because more beneficiaries are expected to enroll in lower cost plans.

CMS releases performance results for ACOs

WASHINGTON – Accountable care organizations (ACOs) in the Pioneer ACO Model and Medicare Shared Savings Program generated more than $372 million in savings in their second and first years, respectively, CMS reported Sept. 16. The Pioneer ACOs generated estimated total savings of more than $96 million and qualified for shared savings payments of $68 million. They saved the Medicare Trust Fund about $41 million. Broken down, 11 Pioneer ACOs earned shared savings, three generated shared losses and three elected to defer reconciliation until after the third year. Fifty-three Shared Savings Program ACOs held spending to $652 million below their targets and earned performance payments of more than $300 million. One ACO overspent its target by $10 million and owed shared losses of $4 million. They will save the Trust Fund about $345 million.

NSM makes buy in Pennsylvania

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility (NSM), has acquired Oakdale, Pa.-based Able Mobility Center and renamed it NSM Pittsburgh. The provider will serve the entire Three Rivers region. “We were known as the ‘friendly mobility store’ and always considered the client the most important part of our job,” said Marci Kennedy, branch manager, in a release. “We look forward to continuing our mission with NSM.” NSM Pittsburgh will have seven complex rehab technology professionals on staff, all from Able Mobility. Two are also certified rehab technology suppliers (CRTSs).

Drive Medical becomes AAH corporate partner

WASHINGTON - Drive Medical is now one of AAHomecare's corporate partners. "Drive and its CEO Harvey Diamond have been actively involved in AAHomecare for much of the company's 14-year history," the association stated in a bulletin. Support from corporate partners allows AAHomecare to increase its work advocating on behalf of the HME industry. Partners increase their financial commitment to the association and many of their senior executives take part in its councils, committees and work groups.

Inogen execs, shareholder sell shares

NEW YORK – Two Inogen executives sold off some of their company stock this week. Vice President Byron Myers sold 22,333 shares Sept. 15 at an average price of $21.33 for a total transaction of $476,362. Director Timothy Peterson sold 39,135 shares Sept. 17 at an average price of $21.72 for a total value of $850,012.  In addition, Versant Ventures, a major shareholder of Inogen, has sold 7,388 shares of the company’s stock at an average price of $23.25 for a total of $171,771

New e-commerce website ranks products

PORTLAND, Maine – A new e-commerce website makes it easier for users to select the best home medical equipment for their needs by creating top 10 lists of the best/most useful equipment as ranked by physicians and consumers. Users can search the site,, by product category or by condition. The products featured on the website are available for purchase for cash. “Based on our extensive experience in the field, we know that many baby boomers and those with chronic conditions are not willing to accept decreased product quality due to insurance cutbacks and often decide to purchase a second or higher quality product on their own,” said Tyrrell Hunter, co-founder and vice president, in a release. 

ResMed integrates with health system

SAN DIEGO – ResMed’s AirView compliance management platform (formerly EasyCare Online) is now securely connected to the Epic EHR system of Fairview Health Services. The integration means Fairview’s medical staff can view up-to-date outcomes data on sleep apnea patients without logging in to multiple patient management systems. “The healthcare system is under significant pressure to drive down the cost of care while still delivering exceptional patient outcomes," said Raj Sodhi, vice president, healthcare informatics at ResMed, in a press release. "Sleep apnea represents one area where technology integration can play a key role in making that happen.” Fairview is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit academic health system with 21,000 employees and 2,300 aligned physicians.

Cailor Fleming, AOPA renew partnership

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Cailor Fleming Insurance has renewed its partnership with the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA). Per the partnership, Cailor Fleming will continue to provide the association’s members with a wide range of custom designed insurance products, including broad property, umbrella and workers compensation. The new partnership becomes effective Jan. 1 and will last five years. Cailor Fleming also has exclusive relationships with the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics (NAAOP) and the Board of Certification (BOC), among others.

Mediquip pursues gov’t contracts

BETHPAGE, N.Y. – Mediquip has expanded its reach to service federal agencies by applying for a GSA Schedule and pursuing contracts. “The opportunity to service government accounts opens up significantly more markets throughout our region as our goal of expanding our services to various healthcare agencies becomes a reality,” stated William Hill, co-founder of Mediquip, in a press release. Mediquip is a full-line HME provider that specializes in clinical respiratory services, including ventilation.

Short takes: Brightree, SCA, Michael’s Pharmacy

Brightreehas released the latest version of Brightree HME, which features new capabilities for prior authorization requests (PARs), electronic purchasing, document management and electronic eligibility checking…SCA has refreshed its line of Tena Skincare cleansing, washing and protective cream products. The line, targeted to those suffering from incontinence, features milder formulations, easy-to-identify packaging and design updates…Michael’s Pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy and DME supplier, has achieved accreditation from the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA).

Good works: Dr. Comfort, Hasco

Dr. Comfort will offer Tonya, a tall stylish pink slipper, for a limited time in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A portion of the sales from each slipper sold will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation...Hasco subsidiary Mobility Freedom has delivered accessible vans to the Rentas family and to Aura Alfaro, both of Orlando, Fla., as part of its We Deliver Freedom Program. The program uses crowdfunding and social media to raise awareness of families in need.