In brief: CMS’s Blum gets an earful, studies link sleep apnea and cancer

Friday, May 25, 2012

POTOSI, Mo. – CMS’s Jonathan Blum on May 21 visited Healthcare Equipment & Supply and participated in a roundtable discussion about competitive bidding issues in rural areas. Blum, deputy administrator of CMS and director of its Center for Medicare, heard concerns about Missouri's rural Washington County being included in Round 2 of the program. The added expense of traveling more miles to serve patients for reduced rates under competitive bidding may mean patients will have to pay out of pocket, attendees told Blum. Rep. Jo An Emerson, R-Mo., arranged and attended the visit.

Sleep apnea tied to cancer risk?

SAN FRANCISCO – Two new studies have linked sleep apnea to a higher risk of cancer, according to news reports. In both studies, presented last week at a conference of the American Thoracic Society, researchers ruled out the chance that typical risk factors, including age, smoking, alcohol use and weight, played a role. In one study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researchers found that the more severe the apnea, the higher the likelihood of dying from cancer. In a second study, by the Spanish Sleep Network, researchers found that the longer a patient suffered oxygen depletion during sleep, the higher the possibility that person would be diagnosed with cancer.

AAH comments on Round 1 recompete, code transition

ARLINGTON, Va. – AAHomecare submitted comments to CMS last week expressing “grave concerns” about the agency’s decision to create new product categories for the Round 1 recompete. The association criticized CMS for including products that have never been bid before and grouping products too broadly. It asks CMS to: separate the consolidated product categories and create individual categories similar to those in Round 1 and 2; and exclude external infusion pumps. AAHomecare also submitted comments to CMS recommending that the agency delay transition to the ICD-10 code set by one year. The association also recommended the agency: keep ICD-9 codes active so providers can appeal or resubmit claims with date of service prior to the transition; continue the current policy of allowing providers to use information in their records to mitigate to a more specific ICD-10 code if the information would support using that code; and refrain from requiring providers to contact physicians to obtain a new order or other medical necessity documentation.

Senate won't hold hearing for Tavenner

WASHINGTON – It looks like there won't be a confirmation hearing for Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator for CMS, according to Politico. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., indicated that it was likely Republicans would block the nomination and Democrats do not have enough votes to override a filibuster. CMS hasn't had a permanent leader since 2006.

S&P revises outlook on Rotech

ORLANDO, Fla. – Standard & Poor downgraded its rating outlook for Rotech Healthcare from stable to negative, it announced May 22. The revision is due to higher than expected declines in EBITDA and cash flow during the first quarter of 2012. S&P had originally expected Rotech to experience single-digit revenue growth in 2012. S&P affirmed the provider’s "B" corporate credit rating.

ResMed details progress on new CEO, initiates dividend

SAN DIEGO – Dr. Pete Farrell will remain CEO of ResMed until the end of the calendar year 2013, per the request of the manufacturer’s board of directors. In the meantime, ResMed will continue to evaluate potential internal CEO candidates. “When the board decides that there are suitable internal candidates for the role, the board plans to compare and contracts those candidates with potential external candidates,” the manufacturer stated in a press release. ResMed expects this process to be completed by the end of calendar year 2013. Michael “Mick” Farrell, Peter Farrell’s son, is currently president, Americas. In the same release, ResMed also announced that it plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share in the first quarter of its fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012. It plans to pay the dividend in U.S. currency to holders of its common stock trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Holders of Chess Depositary Instruments (CDIs) trading on the Australian Stock Exchange will receive an equivalent amount in Australian currency based on the exchange rate on the record date and the 10:1 ratio between CDIs and NYSE shares.

Medtrade off to ‘strong’ start

ATLANTA – Exhibit space for Medtrade, Oct. 16-18 in Atlanta, is 90% reserved, according to show officials at Nielsen Expositions. “The strong early bookings show a cautious optimism among manufacturers who know that patient demand in the coming years will be robust,” stated Kevin Gaffney, Medtrade group show director, in a release. “The numbers are a firm indicator that manufacturers are ready and willing to work with HME providers who survive the carnage of competitive bidding.” Gaffney expects to sell the remaining exhibit space prior to the show’s start on Oct. 16.

Inogen to open new corporate office in Texas

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Inogen will open a 31,204-square-foot corporate office in Richardson, Texas, in June, according to the Dallas Business Journal. The manufacturer and provider of the Inogen One portable oxygen concentrator will also hire 200 employees in the next 18 months to work at the office doing medical billing, sales, customer support and clinical services. The office will also house manufacturing and distribution operations. Inogen’s corporate headquarters will remain in Santa Barbara, Calif., but the new office will facilitate its national growth plans, according to the newspaper.

Webinar to feature Kim Brandt

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group and the law firm of Munsch Kopf & Harr will co-sponsor a free webinar featuring Kim Brandt, chief investigative counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. Topics will include legal issues and proposed changes to program integrity audits; and suggestions for program integrity changes. Also participating in the webinar are attorney Edward Vishnevetsky and VGM's Mark Higley. The webinar is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST, May 31. More information to come.

Short takes: Nonin Medical, PFQC, The Scooter Store

Minneapolis-based Nonin Medical has received FDA 510(k) clearance to label its Onyx Vantage 9590 fingertip pulse oximeter for use on thumbs and toes…People for Quality Care (PFQC) has released the second in a series of videos to educate Americans about the faults of competitive bidding. Watch the video at…The Scooter Store has been recognized for its efforts to improve employee health via work-site wellness initiatives by the San Antonio Business Group on Health.

People news: Mark Higley

Mark Higley, vice president-development for The VGM Group, received the Christopher J. Denmark Commitment to Excellence award at the annual meeting of the New England Medical Equipment Dealers Association. Higley was honored for his “commitment to helping providers understand the competitive bidding process.”