In brief: Complex rehab advocates speak up, study casts doubt on impact of CPAP therapy on cardiovascular events

Friday, September 2, 2016

WASHINGTON – Two consumer organizations have sent letters to lawmakers urging them to pass bills that would permanently protect complex rehab accessories from competitive bid pricing.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations, and the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid Coalition (ITEM) sent letters to 10 senators and representatives, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“The disability community is grateful for this delay but urges Congress to pass the permanent solution contained in S. 2196/H.R. 3229 by year’s end—this will allow people with significant disabilities to have the access they need to CRT power and manual wheelchair accessories,” the CCD wrote. “From the consumer perspective, it is essential that both CRT power and manual accessories are exempted from competitive bidding.”

A bill passed in 2015 delayed CMS’s plans to apply bid pricing to complex rehab accessories until Jan. 1, 2017.

In addition to the letters, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who co-sponsored H.R. 3229, held a press conference at The Children's Center at United Cerebral Palsy of Long Island, a school for students with developmental disabilities, calling for Congress to pass legislation this year.

“These positive developments come at an excellent time,” wrote Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, in an update.

Congress will be back in session Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Study casts doubt on impact of CPAP therapy on cardiovascular events

WALTHAM, Mass. – CPAP therapy plus usual care, versus usual care alone, does not prevent cardiovascular events in patients with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea and established cardiovascular disease, according to a study published Aug. 28 on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This study was not powered to provide definitive answers regarding the effects of CPAP on secondary cardiovascular end points, but there was no indication of a significant benefit with respect to any cause-specific cardiovascular outcome,” the study states.

The Sleep Apnea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) study found that CPAP therapy significantly reduced snoring and daytime sleepiness, and improved health-related quality of life and mood, but it had “no significant effect” on so-called “primary composite end points.” These end points include death from cardiovascular causes, myocardial infarction, stroke, or hospitalization for unstable angina, heart failure or transient ischemic attack.

As part of the study, researchers randomly assigned 2,717 eligible adults between 45 and 75 years of age who had moderate-to-severe sleep apnea and coronary or cerebrovascular disease to receive CPAP therapy plus usual care, or usual care alone. After a mean follow-up of 3.7 years, they found an end-point event had occurred in 229 patients in the CPAP group vs. 207 in the usual care group.

The study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and others, sought to determine whether or not CPAP therapy could be a useful additional treatment for the prevention of these events.

“Observational clinical studies have shown that the use of CPAP is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular complications and of death from cardiovascular causes, especially among patients who are adherent to treatment,” the report states. “Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition among patients with cardiovascular disease, affecting 40% to 60% of such patients.”

CMS publishes further guidance on CPAP accessories

WASHINGTON – CMS recently published change request 9741, providing further guidance to the DME MACs on medical reviews of claims for replacement accessories for beneficiary-owned CPAP and RAD devices. CMS has clarified that medical necessity is assumed to be established when Medicare initially pays for the base DME item. This guidance only applies to base items that were paid by Medicare for the entire 13 months. For replacement accessories claims, contractors will only review the continued medical need requirement for the base item, and the medical necessity of the accessory replacement (or furnishing of new accessories) and whether it is essential in using the base item. 

Handicare buys Prism Medical

KISTA, Sweden – Handicare has acquired Prism Medical, a patient handling company located in Toronto and St. Louis. Prism, which employs 250, expects to have revenues of about $50 million in 2016. “The new combined product portfolio and sales network will put Handicare in a top tier position in North America,” the company stated in a press release. The combined product portfolio will be available to both Handicare and Prism customers later in 2016. Prism manufactures a broad range of products, including ceiling lifts, portable ceiling lifts, floor lifts, and other ancillary patient handling products. Charley Wallace will assume the role of president and CEO of Handicare North America and Ross Scavuzzo will continue as president of Handicare Canada.

Aeroflow adds 50 employees

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has added 50 employees this year, 22 of them in its breastpumps department. “The department currently shows a 110% growth percentage from January,” the provider stated in an Aug. 29 press release. Aeroflow has also boosted its billing department with 12 employees this year, representing a 34% growth rate. The provider has added nine and five employees to its customer service and marketing departments, respectively. “We have added truly amazing talent to our team, which has allowed us to exceed sales projections and focus on our core values as an organization,” said Katie Combs, chief culture officer, in the release. Aeroflow, recently named to the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for the second year in a row, has locations sprawling across the Southeast.

Cryogenic Solutions buys Inventory Solutions

INDIANAPOLIS – Cryogenic Solutions, a factory authorized service center, has acquired New York-based Inventory Solutions, a national supplier of refurbished respiratory products. Founded in 2000, Inventory Solutions offers ventilators, apnea monitors, self-fill systems, concentrators, pulse oximeters, phototherapy lights, portables and cylinders. “With this acquisition, Cryogenics Solutions gains a knowledgeable team of employees that are committed to providing the HME industry with a full spectrum of high quality products and services,” said Todd Durham, president and CEO of Cryogenic Solutions, in a release. Inventory Solutions also purchases excess inventory from HME dealers, wholesalers and manufacturers and ships from 14 repair facilities around the U.S.

Apria steps up for flood victims…

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare has conducted around-the-clock outreach to more than 700 patients with potentially damaged respiratory equipment due to this month’s flooding in Louisiana. “Several of our employees’ homes have also been damaged, but they all continue to come to work and lend a hand to displaced patients in need,” said Quiana Cruz, a branch manager in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, in an Aug. 29 press release. Apria has brought respiratory equipment to 35 displaced patients staying in shelters. It plans to deliver another 100 pieces of equipment. Additionally, the provider has created a GoFundMe page for those interested in making donations to provide direct emergency assistance for employees in the area. It has promised to match donations up to a total of $50,000.

…VGM assists Red Cross in Louisiana

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Homelink has used its network of HME providers and manufacturer partners to coordinate the delivery of 208 wheelchairs, first aid kits to accommodate 6,500 people and 130 service bells to shelters in areas affected by flooding in southern Louisiana. Homelink was asked by the American Red Cross to coordinate medical supplies to aid displaced flood victims. “Once we received the call from the Red Cross, our team dedicated to crisis situations began sourcing the requested products,” said Jason Sadler, vice president of operations. “Within 48 hours, the request was fulfilled, which included expediting overnight shipping on products that could not be sourced through local providers.” The Louisiana floods mark the third time in four years that the Red Cross has called on Homelink to assist during a crisis situation in the U.S.

Caire implements MAP policy

BALL GROUND, Ga. – Caire, a Chart Industries Company, has implemented a Minimum Advertised Price Policy for all distributors, retailers and resellers who advertise or sell its products over the Internet. “The MAP Policy was adopted to protect customers’ confidence in the quality of our products,” stated George Coppola, director of marketing. “This policy is designed to encourage and support resellers who provide customers with strong pre- and post-sales service and support. Advertising and sales practices that promote our products primarily on the basis of price is harmful to our brand and reputation.” The policy goes into effect Sept. 1.

ResMed documents family’s travel with vents

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has produced a documentary film featuring a family that decides to continue to travel and enjoy the outdoors despite having two children living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). “Changing Lives with Every Breath: The Beaulieu Family” features two brothers, Ross, 20, and Finn, 16, who have a fatal genetic neuromuscular disease that weakens the body’s muscles over time, including those that support heart and lung function. Thanks to the family’s resolve and with the aid of ResMed’s portable ventilators, the brothers have toured 18 countries in 10 years. “For us, every day, every moment, every breath is priceless, and we’ll cherish it for as long as we can,” said their mother, Michelle Beaulieu.

Philips sponsors Nimoy documentary on COPD

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Royal Philips is sponsoring a documentary that seeks to educate viewers about COPD through Leonard Nimoy’s personal story of courage. “COPD: Highly Illogical – Remembering Leonard Nimoy” will also provide the latest information about treatments for the chronic disease. “Our aim in sponsoring this film is to raise awareness of the disease and its consequences if left undiagnosed or untreated,” said Eli Diacopoulos, Home Respiratory Care Business Leader for Philips. Nimoy’s decade-long struggle with COPD wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2013, when it was past the point of effective treatment. Nimoy, who died in February of last year, is best known for his role as Mr. Spock in Star Trek. The documentary is being produced by Nimoy’s daughter, Julie Nimoy, and her husband, David Knight of Health Point Productions.

ResMed recalls vents in Australia

SAN DIEGO – ResMed, in consultation with the Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration, has initiated a product correction recall in that country for its Astral 100 and Astral 150 ventilators due to an internal battery issue. Starting in September, local service providers will be contacting patients to schedule replacement of affected batteries, either at the next normal routine maintenance service or at a separate appointment. All ventilators should have their internal batteries replaced by no later than Dec. 1. As of Aug. 17, ResMed had not received any reports of adverse events as a result of this issue.

FODAC receives accreditation, seeks partnerships

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – The Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), a nonprofit that has provided more than $10 million in DME and supplies to people with injuries and disabilities, has received accreditation as a DME provider from the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA). FODAC believes accreditation will pave the way for it to partner with other healthcare providers. “We are seeing more growth in hospital partnerships, and a new contract with Georgia’s Department of Aging Services has enabled us to begin delivering DME to area agencies on aging across the state,” said Chris Brand, CEO and president, in a press release.

Short takes: Mediware, Sigvaris, Medline

Cooley Medical has purchased Mediware’s CareTend software for its home infusion line of business. The software will allow the provider to improve inventory management, workflow and data reporting. Cooley Medical, which has locations in Kentucky and Virginia, first licensed Mediware software 25 years ago…Sigvaris has completed its acquisition of BiaCare in Holland, Mich. BiaCare is best known for its medical compression product lines Chipsleeve and Compreflex…Medline has purchased 51 acres of land for a new distribution center in Auburndale, Fla. The planned 830,000-square-foot facility is expected to bring 100 new jobs to the city. Construction will begin this fall.