In brief: Children's health, competitive bidding, DeVilbiss and more

Sunday, September 30, 2007

House, Senate pass children's health bill
WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives and the Senate both passed a children's health insurance bill last week that excluded cuts to Medicare, including home medical equipment. The House passed the bill 265-149; the Senate 67-29. President Bush is expected to veto the bill. Some legislators in the House wanted to pay for the $35-billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by reducing the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement and eliminating the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs, among other things. Instead, legislators raised the tobacco tax. The HME industry isn't off the hook, however; legislators are still looking for ways to avoid cutting physician reimbursement by 10% on Jan. 1, 2008.

CMS releases details on PAOC meeting
WASHINGTON - The Program Advisory Oversight Committee (PAOC) will meet on Oct. 11 to "discuss the operational issues" surrounding national competitive bidding, CMS stated last week. "The agenda is focused on CMS's progress of implementing the competitive bidding program since CMS issued the final regulation in April of this year," the agency stated. The rest of its announcement reads: "Representatives from a number of the CMS components will lead the discussions on key education and operational issues. CMS hopes that the feedback we receive from the PAOC members and the public will assist us in moving forward with a smoother transition on the next round of competitive bidding." To register for the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. meeting, go to

DeVilbiss looks to China
SOMERSET, Pa. - DeVilbiss Healthcare may relocate its manufacturing operations for certain products to a company-owned facility in China, it announced last week. The move would "create competitive cost structures for DeVilbiss and its customers," stated President and CEO Kees Regeling in a release. The products that may be manufactured overseas: oxygen concentrators, oxygen transfilling systems, vacuum/suction pumps, plastics and electronics. Production of oxygen conserving devices, CPAP devices and professional atomizers will remain in Somerset, Pa., indefinitely, the company stated. Earlier this summer, Sunrise Medical "evolved" into two distinct businesses: Sunrise Medical for mobility products and DeVilbiss for respiratory products and services.

Drive expects to acquire European manufacturer
PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. - Drive Medical has entered into an agreement to acquire a major European manufacturer and distributor of power mobility products, lift chairs, patient aids and bathroom safety products. The acquisition is expected to be completed on or before Oct. 31, Drive announced last week. The European company distributes its products throughout Europe, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece and other countries. Drive officials expect the company's existing management to remain in place and be central to Drive's European strategy. Drive entered the European market last December through its acquisition of Peter Endres, GmbH and Co. KG (Endres), a German manufacturer and distributor of bath lifts and mobility aids.

Harvard honors Invacare CEO Mal Mixon
BOSTON - At a special ceremony Sept. 27 before some 900 MBA students, faculty and staff, the Harvard Business School (HBS) presented Invacare CEO Mal Mixon with an Alumni Achievement Award. This award, presented to five HBS graduates, is the school's highest honor. It is presented to HBS alumni whose lives and careers epitomize the school's mission to "educate leaders who make a difference in the world." In 1979, Mixon parlayed $10,000 of his own money to engineer the purchase of an Ohio-based wheelchair maker. Today, Invacare is the world's leading manufacturer and distributor of medical products used in the home. Guided by his leadership, the company puts a premium on new product development and innovation, while providing help and hope to people of all ages with disabilities. Mixon also has shown strong leadership in a wide variety of other activities. He chairs the boards of two institutions with worldwide reputations--the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the Cleveland Institute of Music. And to help Cleveland's minority businesses, he created a $25 million investment fund called Minorities with Vision. Others honored with the 2007 HBS Alumni Achievement Award include Donna Dubinsky, Sir Martin S. Sorrell, Hansjorg Wyss and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

FDA clears liquid O2 generation device for home
NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. - Respiratory device company Inspired Technologies, announced last week that it has obtained FDA 510(k) approval for its VIAspire Liquefier, a device that makes liquid oxygen in the home for patients requiring oxygen therapy. The VIAspire Liquefier maintains two liters of liquid oxygen that are always available to the patient. Compatible with the VIAspire Liquefier are oxygen portables (pending FDA 510(k) approval) in three different sizes, allowing patients to maintain active lifestyles, according to a company release.