In brief: Centene, WellCare merger finalized; Aeroflow partners with network

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Friday, January 24, 2020

ST. LOUIS – Centene Corp. has completed its acquisition of WellCare Health Plans, creating what it calls the leading healthcare enterprise focused on government-sponsored healthcare programs.

Centene now provides health care to more than 24 million members across 50 states, or one in 15 people across the nation.

"We are pleased to have completed this transformational acquisition to create a leading healthcare enterprise committed to helping people live healthier lives through access to high-quality and affordable healthcare solutions," said Michael F. Neidorff, Centene's chairman, president and CEO. "Through the integration planning process, it has become even more apparent that our goals, cultures and values are aligned. Centene is committed to building on our mission to further improve the health of the communities we serve. We look forward to Centene's next chapter where we will continue to drive growth and create value for shareholders."

Per the terms of the merger, first announced March 27, WellCare has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene. WellCare shareholders received a fixed exchange ratio of 3.38 shares of Centene common stock and $120 in cash for each share of WellCare common stock.

Now that the transaction is complete, the previously announced divestitures of Centene’s Illinois Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans, WellCare’s Missouri Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans, and WellCare’s Nebraska Medicaid plan are also closed.

WellCare common stock stopped trading on Jan. 23.

Aeroflow partners with physician network

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has announced a strategic partnership with the Idaho Physicians Network (IPN), a statewide network of local physicians across multiple practice areas. Through the partnership, Aeroflow will provide IPN members with its full suite of DME, including breast pumps, pediatric sleep and respiratory products, nebulizers, home sleep testing and CPAP supplies. “Our strategic partnerships with trusted organizations nationwide are the reason Aeroflow has been able to continuously expand into new geographic regions and provide an increasing number of patients with higher quality products and care,” said Juliane Monko, MPH, strategic partnerships and corporate development at Aeroflow. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, IPN supports more than 17,000 providers delivering care to more than 77,000 patients.

Apria turns to Absolute

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare now leverages Absolute to ensure endpoint security across more than 8,000 devices and to help achieve HIPAA compliance, according to a press release from the tech company. Apria has turned to Absolute’s Persistence technology for zero-touch IT asset management. The technology, the foundation of the company’s Resilience solution, enables a “self-healing, unbreakable two-way connection to endpoints, applications and data.” It provides an adaptive layer of defense by notifying IT of where devices are and when security applications are removed or corrupt, and triggering automatic reinstallation. Absolute is already embedded in the BIOS of Dell, HP, Lenovo and 22 other leading devices.

JMeds positions for growth with new hire

FORT WORTH, Texas – JMeds, a Kalos Health Services company, has hired Jenny Swain as its executive vice president of sales and clinical initiatives. Swain brings more than 20 years of experience in the long-term market, including at American Medical Technologies, an independent provider of wound care solutions for long-term care facilities nationwide. JMeds provides a consolidated service solution that includes DME, NPWT, oxygen and infection prevention across Texas and other southern states. Swain will play a key role in the company’s expansion across the country.

CVS rolls out more HealthHUBs

TAMPA, Fla. – CVS has debuted HealthHUBs in nine CVS locations in the greater Tampa area, the company announced Jan. 21. The company now has 53 HealthHUB locations in five states: Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, and plans to bring the format, which offers a greater selection of health and wellness products, to 17 states in the first part of 2020. Last week, CVS announced it had added 15 HealthHUBs in the Houston area.

CareCentrix names former Cleveland Clinic head to advisory board

HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has named Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, former CEO of the Cleveland Clinic and current Google executive advisor, to its strategic advisory board. “Solving the last mile challenge for health plans and providers is the single greatest opportunity to reduce costs and improve outcomes in US health care,” said John Driscoll, CEO of CareCentrix, “Dr. Cosgrove has built his career as an innovator in clinical excellence, business model redesign and returning the patient to the center of care. We’re honored to welcome his leadership and support.”

NCPA calls on CMS to recognize pharmacists as care providers

WASHINGTON – The National Community Pharmacists Association is urging CMS to recognize pharmacist services beyond dispensing of medications.

The comments are in response to a call from CMS, which sought input on eliminating certain Medicare regulations that require more stringent supervision than existing state laws.

“Community pharmacists are among America’s most accessible health care providers, seeing complex patients an average of 35 times each year,” says Ronna Hauser, NCPA’s vice president of policy and government affairs operations. “We encourage policymakers to work toward eliminating barriers that limit additional patient access to pharmacist-provided care services…and to facilitate pharmacists’ inclusion on patient care teams and in value-based delivery models.”
Generally, the NCPA recommends CMS:

Leverage pharmacists’ expertise broadly under Medicare;

Expand service models using pharmacist-provided patient care services using CMS Innovation Center data;

Attribute and understand the contributions of pharmacists to the health of beneficiaries; and implement a general supervision requirement vs. direct supervision for services.

The NCPA also seeks clarification of the ability of pharmacists to provide diabetes self-management treatment. Although CMS recognized pharmacists as instructors in 2017, conflicting language has contributed to a lack of awareness that accredited pharmacies can bill for DSMT services.

NorthShore to move into expanded facility

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. – NorthShore Care Supply is moving into a new 173,000-square-foot facility in Green Oaks in March. The new building will more than double its current space and includes NorthShore’s headquarters, fulfillment center, contact center, research and development and a quality control lab. “It’s going to be an exciting year for our company as we complete our relocation and bring online our new fulfillment center with heavy investments in automation and robotics,” says Adam Greenberg, founder and president. NorthShore provides incontinence products for individuals with moderate to heavy incontinence, and manufactures its own line of briefs.

180 Medical launches caregiver scholarship

OKLAHOMA CITY – 180 Medical is launching the Ron Howell Caregiver Scholarship in honor of President Ron Howell, who will retire this year. It is open to college students who are unpaid caregivers to a family member or loved one and plan to attend a two-year, four-year or graduate school program in the fall. “We’re thrilled to be able to implement a scholarship program that can offer a helping hand to caregivers, who often work so hard and give so much to their loved ones while also working to achieve their own goals,” said Angie Christopher, director of human resources. 180 Medical, a national provider of intermittent catheters and ostomy and incontinence supplies, has a history of giving back through scholarships, most recently in November, when it awarded $1,000 scholarships to seven students with specific disabilities, including spinal cord injuries.

GF Health Products honored for expansion efforts

ATLANTA – GF Health Products has received the 2019 GLOBE Award from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, in recognition of its expansion into new global markets. This is GF’s fourth year receiving the award, which was established in 2014 to recognize Georgia companies for their outstanding export achievements.

Study: Screening older adults for OSA would save money

DARIEN, Ill. – Older adults with undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea access healthcare more frequently and at a higher cost than those without, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

By reviewing a sample of Medicare claims data, researchers found those with untreated sleep apnea had greater health care utilization and costs across all points of service, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency and prescription medications in the year leading up to their sleep apnea diagnosis.

Medicare patients with sleep apnea were also more likely to suffer from other ailments than those without the sleep disorder. Sleep apnea is linked to an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and depression.

The study authors, including researchers at the University of Maryland and Columbia University, suggest that insurers, legislators and health system leaders consider routine screening for sleep apnea in older patients.

“Sleep disorders represent a massive economic burden on the U.S. health care system,” said lead author Emerson Wickwire, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and director of the insomnia program at the University of Maryland Medical Center–Midtown Campus. “Medicare beneficiaries with obstructive sleep apnea cost taxpayers an additional $19,566 per year. It’s important to realize that costs associated with untreated sleep disorders are likely to continue to accrue year after year, which is why our group focuses on early recognition and treatment.”

NCART launches Medicaid survey

WASHINGTON – NCART, in conjunction with AAHomecare and U.S. Rehab, is currently conducting a 2020 Medicaid CRT Survey to gather information on CRT policies on a state-by-state basis. The collected data will allow stakeholders to examine status and trends within state Medicaid programs and identify where action may be required. The survey deadline is Jan. 31 and it can be accessed here. Questions? Contact Mickae Lee at mlee@ncart.us.

Troy Keach takes reins at Handi Medical

ST. PAUL – Troy Keach has been named president and CEO of Handi Medical Supply, effective Jan. 6. Keach has more than 20 years of leadership experience in healthcare organizations, including The Mayo Clinic, Allina Healthcare and Fairview/HealthEast systems. “I am honored to join the Handi Medical team at an exciting time in the company’s growth and look forward to leveraging the strengths of this organization to best meet the needs of our future customers” said Keach. He succeeds Mike Bailey who is relocating to Arizona.

Quality Biomedical opens sixth service center

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Quality Biomedical has opened its sixth respiratory service center here. The company, which specializes in warranty and non-warranty service and management of respiratory and infusion related products, offers a service management program to help HME providers reduce costs and improve efficiency. “Allentown is a strategic location allowing us to provide equipment service-management programs to our growing customer base in all the Northeast states,” said Jim Worrell, COO for the Boulder-Colo.-based Quality Biomedical. In September, the company announced it had completed an outside investment by Aeonic Partners as part of a growth strategy that includes opening new service centers over the next 12 to 18 months.

People: ATF Medical, eSolutions

ATF Medical has hired Edwina Murphy, OTR, ATP, as director of rehab technology. Murphy, who is based in Houston, most recently worked as a rehabilitation technology specialist with Great American Mobility, and has previously worked with National Seating & Mobility. Woodbridge, Va.-based ATF Medical is a provider of medical equipment and adaptive housing solutions to the workers’ compensation market…Crystal Ewing, director of product for eSolutions, has been elected as Board Chair of the Cooperative Exchange, the National Clearinghouse Association’s 2020 Board of Directors. The Cooperative Exchange is a Washington, D.C.-based organization committed to promoting and advancing electronic data exchange for the healthcare industry by improving efficiency, advocacy and education to industry stakeholders and government entities. Ewing began her two-year Jan. 1.