In brief: CMS drops rehab codes from Round 2, WellPoint backs off accreditation restriction

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - CMS announced Nov. 30 that it has removed ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs, gimbaled ventilator trays and push activated power assist devices from the standard wheelchair product category for Round 2 of competitive bidding. Industry stakeholders had worked to have these codes dropped from competitive bidding since the product categories were announced in August. However, in a bulletin to members, Peggy Walker, a billing and reimbursement adviser for The VGM Group's U.S. Rehab, stated the exclusion is temporary and that the codes (K0005, E0986 and E1030) are expected to be part of future rounds of the program. Specialty skin protection and positioning adjustable wheelchair cushions (E2622-E2625) will still be put out to bid.

WellPoint backs off accreditation restriction--for now

ATLANTA - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia stated in a Nov. 11 letter that it will not terminate contracts with currently contracted HME providers that have not met new standards by March 1, 2012. BCBS of Georgia, which is owned and administered by WellPoint, notified providers in May that they must be accredited by one of three agencies: The Joint Commission, ACHC or CHAP. "We will continue to examine our credentialing requirements, including evaluation of the numerous accrediting bodies," it stated in the letter. "We will keep you posted on our transition plans." For more on this story, go here.

AAH: Respond to all requests

WASHINGTON - In the wake of CMS's announcement of a 61% error rate for HME, AAHomecare encourages all providers to respond to all additional documentation requests, even if they're for products with low dollar amounts. Why? To help reduce the error rate. "One reason why HME error rates remain so high is providers who do not respond to an audit or submit any requested documentation," the association stated in a bulletin last week. "As many as 50% of denials resulted because the provider did not respond." The association continued: "Drastic reductions in the error rates may go a long way toward reducing the burden of audits on providers in the future and reduce the strain that audits have on running your HME."

VGM adds date to bid series

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has added another date to its seminar series on competitive bidding and business diversification: Jan. 30-31 in Atlanta. The day-and-a-half seminar will include presentations by Mike Mallaro, CFO of VGM, and Sarah Hanna, vice president of ECS Consulting, on topics like preparing for competitive bidding and identifying new growth opportunities. For more info, go here.

Global Medical gets HOME base in Florida

PHOENIX - Global Medical Equipment of America (GMEA) in November acquired Hospitality Oxygen & Medical Equipment (HOME) in Palm Coast, Fla. HOME offers a full line of DME and respiratory equipment throughout northeast Florida. "HOME's solid reputation for providing quality care and great customer service, has resulted in substantial growth each year it has operated," stated Harold Halman, GMEA CEO, in a release. GMEA plans to use the acquisition as a springboard for a more national presence.

Program helps pharmacies build new revenue streams

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has launched "Front-End Overhaul...More Traffic, More Profits!" a program aimed at helping community pharmacies maximize their front-end retail space and diversify their product mix. The program is headed by Gabe Trahan, an expert in layout modification, merchandising and advertising. Among other aspects of the program, NCPA members will have access to onsite and virtual consultations to help them identify merchandising opportunities.

Watermark lands national sleep contract

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Watermark Medical has inked a deal with UnitedHealthcare to provide home sleep testing services, the company announced last week. Under the multiyear contract, Watermark will ship home sleep diagnostics equipment directly to the patient. It's the first national contract for Watermark Medical.

Short takes: VGM Group, Covidien

The VGM Group has named Paul DiMarco to the newly created position of vice president-marketing. DiMarco was formerly the operations manager for VGM Forbin. In his new role, he will be responsible for VGM Utility Sales, VGM Creative, Strategic Media and Strategic Imaging. He'll also be responsible for VGM's internal website development and content management...Covidien has received the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) Zenith Award for 2011. It's the 22nd consecutive year that Covidien has received this award, which "recognizes manufacturers and service organizations in the respiratory care industry for outstanding service."