In brief: competitive bidding, sleep, infusion and more

Sunday, March 9, 2008

BALTIMORE - CMS has scheduled the next meeting of the competitive bidding
advisory committee for June 16, just about two weeks before round one is
slated to begin on July 1. The timing of the meeting has left members of the
Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC) feeling concerned and
disappointed. One member even called the timing "ridiculous."

"Everything will be lock loaded and ready to go," said Seth Johnson, Pride
Mobility's vice president of government affairs. "It minimizes the impact or
even the potential impact the PAOC could have in correcting any of the
problems or anomalies or issues that come up in the next couple of months as
they try to roll out the program."

Industry attorney Asela Cuervo said that while the PAOC meeting does cut it
close to the start of round one, she hopes CMS will at least answer policy
questions it did not answer at the last meeting in November. Those questions
include, for example: How will a company's financial standards be evaluated?
How will CMS determine when a competitively bid price is too low?

"They kept saying that they couldn't respond to these questions because they
were in the middle of a bid," Cuervo said. "My guess would be that they are
trying to schedule a meeting in between that gap when one bidding process is
closing and before another one opens."

Will Round one be delayed? Stranger things have happened

WASHINGTON - No one in the HME industry's counting their chickens before
they hatch, but a ray of hope exists that round one of competitive bidding
could be delayed, at least for period of weeks or months.

Invacare's Senior Vice President of Government Relations Cara Bachenheimer
noted that CMS has yet to roll out its beneficiary education program. Nor
has it announced the winning bidders. The longer CMS waits to do either
could potentially delay the July 1 start date, said Bachenheimer and others.

There's also a chance that industry champions in the Senate and House of
Representatives could apply political pressure on CMS, requesting that the
agency delay round one until it further studies the impact on providers and

If round one is delayed, it will not be a great surprise, given that
numerous delays in rolling out the program have already occurred, said
industry attorney Asela Cuervo.

"This thing is so huge that it would be a big surprise if everything worked
as clock work," she said. " It's is a dramatic change."

Study: Sleep deprived Americans cost companies billions

WASHINGTON - Work is cutting into the sleep and sex lives of many Americans,
according to the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep in America poll, released
March 3. Americans spend on average 4.5 hours each week catching up on
additional work at home, on top of a 9.5-hour average workday, according to
the poll. Of those taking work home, 20% spend 10 or more hours per week and
25% spend at least seven hours on job-related tasks. And the sleep-deprived
are accepting their drowsy state, with 63% saying they just keep on going
and 32% using caffeinated drinks to stay alert. More than half--54%--are
likely to try and catch up on sleep during the weekend.

Infusion associations asks CMS to guarantee delivery

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) asked CMS to
ensure "delivery of home infusion drugs upon discharge from an acute care
setting within the earlier of 24 hours or before the patient's next required
dose." The letter was in response to CMS's draft letter to potential Part D
drug plans sponsors for 2009. CMS's draft asks that: "Part D sponsors ensure
that their network home infusion pharmacies provide delivery of home
infusion drugs within 24 hours of discharge from an acute setting, or later
if so prescribed." NHIA wants to ensure that patients will receive their
next dose on time if less than 24 hours will pass, as is common for infusion
therapy. NHIA's full comments can be read on the association's Web site:

Apnea Rx surpasses January sales goal

LYMAN, S.C. - Southern Home Medical Equipment sleep subsidiary, Apnea RX,
generated sales of $65,805 in January, surpassing its sales projection of
$60,000, the company announced in February. Apnea Rx specializes in
CPAP/BiPAP for the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing. "When we
acquired Apnea Rx this past year, we established an immediate footprint for
servicing the growing sleep market," said Greg Tucker, president of Southern
Home Medical, in a release.