In brief: Complaint hotline goes live, walker use increases

Friday, June 14, 2013

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare and People for Quality Care (PFQC) have partnered to offer a hotline number for Medicare beneficiaries to log complaints about their access to HME, according to a press release. The number, which will go live June 18, will be staffed 24/7 by a PFQC live operator, who, with the caller’s permission, will forward complaints about competitive bidding to a Medicare ombudsman. Those complaints will then be added to a list, which will be presented to members of Congress. “Medicare reports to only have received one to 200 complaints since the beginning of their program in 2011,” stated PFQC Director Kelly Turner. “We want to make sure that the voices of equipment users are heard in this battle.” PFQC plans to conduct follow-up calls to patients to determine if their issues were resolved. The number: 800-404-8702.  

Study: Walker use increases among baby boomers

CHICAGO – A study recently featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that baby boomers are twice as likely to use an assistive walking device than the generation before them. While medicine has improved substantially during the lifetimes of baby boomers and their life expectancy has risen, the study suggests that overall health is lower than the previous generation and this may, in part, explain the increased use of walking devices. Among baby boomers analyzed in the study, 6.9% used an assistive walking device, compared with 3.3% in the previous generation. Other noteworthy findings: 13.2% of baby boomers reported “excellent” health, compared to 32% of individuals in the previous generation; and 38.7% were obese, compared to 29.4% in the previous generation.

Analysis: Medicare Advantage enrollment soars

WASHINGTON – An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Medicare Advantage enrollment increased nearly 10% in 2012 and by 30% since 2010, putting enrollment at a record high. The program grew from 5.3 million people in 2004 to a record 14.4 million in 2013, according to the analysis. From 2012 to 2013, Medicare Advantage enrolled an additional 1 million people.

Prodigy teams up with pharmacy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Prodigy Diabetes Care has formed a partnership with Rx ‘n Go, an alternative pharmacy network, to offer fixed price diabetes monitors and test strips, according to a press release. The initiative, which takes effect July 1, 2013, is designed to reduce medical costs on diabetes supplies for self-funded employers. Under the partnership, payers are incentivized to offer their diabetes members access to supplies at no cost. “With all the changes healthcare reform is bringing, we know it’s important to continue to meet the needs of existing customers while finding new ways to grow our business,” stated Rick Admani, Prodigy COO. “Our new relationship with Rx ‘n Go is designed to help us do that.”

NASL joins call to delay bidding program

WASHINGTON – The National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL) stands behind lawmakers in the House of Representatives who want to delay implementation of Round 2 of competitive bidding, according to a press release. The association applauded the leadership of Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who crafted a “Dear Colleague” letter to garner support for the delay, saying a myriad of concerns need to be addressed. “NASL continues to voice serious concerns about the process that CMS used in evaluating the ability of those with winning bids to deliver quality care,” stated Cynthia Morton, executive vice president.

Study: OSA increases risk of sudden cardiac death

WASHINGTON – A moderate case of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can significantly increase a person’s risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD), according to a large study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “The prevalence of OSA in Western populations is high and will likely only continue to grow given the obesity epidemic and direct relationship between obesity and sleep apnea,” stated Apoor Gami, MD, lead author of the study and a cardiologist at Midwest Heart Specialists–Advocate Medical Group. The study found that people with sleep apnea more often died suddenly from cardiac causes during the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the least likely time for SCD among the general populace. Of the 10,071 subjects, who were followed for an average of 5.3 years, 142 patients experienced SCD, with the most common predictors being over 60 years old, having 20 apnea episodes an hour, and having a lowest oxygen saturation level of 78%, according to the study. 

NCART develops funding guide

BUFFALO – NCART has created a guide to better secure funding for people in need of standing complex rehab devices, according to a press release. The guide is designed to offer advice to clinicians, providers and consumers about evaluation, documentation requirements and costs. The NCART Standing Device Funding Guide includes information on specific types of devices, a glossary of terms, and contact information, the release noted.

Provider short takes

Medical Supply Liquidators, an online supplier of diabetic supplies, is celebrating its grand opening. Established by entrepreneur Scott Twaddle, the Internet store carries a range of diabetes supplies, including insulin syringes and lancets…Medical Specialties Distributors (MSD), an alternate-site infusion therapy provider, has acquired Medical Technologies Resources (MTR), a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of infusion pumps and a healthcare billing service…Beacon Health System plans to begin construction June 12 on its new general home care building, according to an article from the South Bend Tribune. The 36,500-square-foot facility will house a Medicare- and Medicaid-licensed home health agency, a pharmacy, a retail store with HME, and a personal-services agency.

Vendor short takes

The Inogen One G3 portable oxygen concentrator has been reviewed by a third-party testing service and named the top performer in several categories, according to a press release...Cleanis has announced that its Carebag Commode Liner was voted 2013 Best New Product for Caregiver and Family Member by Caregiver Magazine…The Law Offices of Todd M. Garber is investigating potential claims against Invacare concerning possible violations of federal securities laws related to the company’s problems with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a press release.

People news

Home Care Medical, based in New Berlin, Wis., promoted Coleen Zinda to director of sales. In the newly created position, Zinda will implement sales strategies, target new audiences and track the latest healthcare trends…Raleigh, N.C.-based Active Healthcare has hired Bobbie Brees as an account representative to support the company’s respiratory programs…Dan Smith, formerly the director of membership sales and marketing at AAHomecare, has joined Global Medical Equipment of America (GMEA) as vice president, business development…Handicare AS, headquarter in Moss, Norway, promoted Hans Sigvardsson to president. In the new position, Sigvardsson will be in charge of all aspects of the company’s day-to-day business in the U.S.