In brief: Consumers back bill, F&P breaks records, Inova secures financing

Friday, May 24, 2013

WASHINGTON – More than a dozen consumer groups are throwing their support behind H. R. 1717, a bill to replace competitive bidding with a market-pricing program (MPP), according to AAHomecare. The groups are lining up to sign a letter from United Spinal Association endorsing the bill. The letter began circulating on May 20, just as stakeholders hit the Hill as part of the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference. “When you call or email your members of Congress, make sure they know that the bill has strong support from patient and consumer groups,” AAHomecare told members in its weekly Wednesday in Washington report. Consumer organizations backing the bill include Shepherd Center, Disability Rights Center and Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation.

Fisher & Paykel breaks records

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Fisher & Paykel Healthcare reported net profit after tax of NZ$77.1 million for the year ended March 31, 2013, according to a press release. The record earnings reflect a 20% increase compared to the prior year. Full-year operating revenue climbed 8% above the prior year to NZ$556.3 million, also a record. Growth was fueled primarily by strong demand for products in two groups: respiratory and acute care, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Michael Daniell, CEO of Fisher & Paykel, said in the release that the company’s Pilairo nasal pillow and Eson nasal masks drove OSA revenue growth of 16% in the second half of the year. The company increased expenses on research and development by 9% from the previous year, as it looks to expand its product lines. “We expect our underlying revenue growth to continue to be robust this year, driven by a broad range of new products and applications,” Daniell stated. 

Inova secures $12M in financing

AUSTIN, Texas – Inova Labs, maker of the LifeChoice oxygen concentrator, has completed a $12 million round of financing, according to an article from the Austin Business Journal. The company collected the capital from six investors, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2011, Inova Labs raised $3.1 million of a planned $17.5 million Series B round of funding from five investors. In 2010, the company secured a $10 million Series A round of funding from a sole investor, Three Arch Partners, according to the article.

Norco acquires two providers 

BOISE, Idaho – Norco, a full-line HME provider based here, has made two acquisitions in the Northwest, according to a press release. Care Medical is a respiratory and medical supply company with six locations in the Portland and Seattle region, and Walgreens Respiratory Services has four locations in the Seattle and Vancouver region. Norco adds 200 employees as a result of the deals; it already employs 950. Norco operates branches in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. It now has 26 branches in Oregon and Washington. Norco was awarded competitive bidding contracts in the Seattle and Portland areas.

Wright & Filippis exits diabetes market

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – Wright & Filippis has entered into an agreement to divest its diabetic supply business to US MED. The reason: The company did not receive a contract to provide diabetes supplies as part of a national mail-order program that will go into effect July 1. US MED, along with 17 others, did receive a contract. “Because of this change, we decided it was an appropriate time to sell our diabetes supply business to US MED,” stated AJ Filippis, president of Wright & Filippis, in a press release. Due to the divestiture, Wright & Filippis will reduce its workforce by 3% over a 60-day period, according to the release. The company operates 35 locations and employs more than 900. Wright & Filippis will now focus on its “traditional strengths” of orthotics and prosthetics, Filippis stated. Earlier this year, the company bought a controlling share of Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics in North Charleston, S.C.

Study: CPAP may benefit those with prediabetes

PHILADELPHIA –Prediabetic patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) saw significant improvement in their glucose levels after CPAP treatment, according to a small clinical trial. The study, conducted by researchers at McGill University and the American Thoracic Society (ATS), found that glucose levels declined to favorable levels for patients treated with CPAP devices, while those levels increased in a control group, according to a press release from the ATS. “We found that optimal treatment of sleep apnea with positive airway pressure for two weeks led to significant improvements in glucose levels,” stated Shumita Pamidi, MD, of McGill University, who led the study. Pamidi added that this may signal “an improvement in insulin sensitivity” among those who receive CPAP treatment, according to the release. 

CVS sticks with diabetes supplies

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Despite drastic changes set to take effect July 1, CVS will continue to provide diabetes supplies to Medicare patients, according to a press release. On that date, only 18 contract suppliers will be able to provide diabetes supplies through mail order. Providers with retail locations, like CVS, may continue to provide supplies but they must do so at the mail-order rates, which are 72% below the current fee schedule. CVS also plans to stock all major brands of diabetes supplies. The company’s pharmacists will be available to assist patients with any new paperwork that may be required as part of the changes, the release noted.

Gov’t, TENS provider resolve lawsuit

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The government and RS Medical, a provider of TENS units and orthotics supplies, have reached a settlement for more than $1.2 million to resolve claims that employees at the company submitted false claims for several products, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. The documents lacked physician orders, the required documentation and/or medical necessity, according to the DOJ. The investigation began in February 2011 when whistleblower Sally Balentine filed a qui tam lawsuit in federal court under the False Claims Act. A whistleblower provision allowed Balentine to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government because she had information that the defendant violated the act. In addition to submitting false claims for TENS units, two RS Medical locations in South Carolina and Illinois submitted false claims for back braces, knee braces, muscle stimulators and cervical traction systems, the release noted. Balentine will receive more than $242,9333 from the proceeds of the settlement, plus $80,000 to cover attorney fees and costs. 

John McCain to accept award from United Spinal

NEW YORK – U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will be on hand at United Spinal Association’s annual legislative conference in June to accept an award for his support of disabilities rights, according to a press release. At the association’s 2nd annual Roll on Capitol Hill, scheduled for June 16-19 in Washington, D.C., McCain will be awarded the VetsFirst Congressional Bronze Star Award for his efforts to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty addressing disability rights on a global level. VetsFirst is a program within the United Spinal Association. Other lawmakers receiving recognition at the event will include Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., and Sen. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., who will receive, respectively, the James J. Peters Disability Rights Champion Award, and the Junius A. Kellogg Award for Outstanding Congressional Leadership, the release noted.

CMS wants feedback on template for prostheses

WASHINGTON – CMS plans to host a conference call May 28 to allow providers, physicians and other parties to weigh in on a possible nationwide electronic clinical template for lower limb prostheses. CMS is exploring the development of a template to assist providers with data collection and documentation submission, and to enhance physician understanding of documentation requirements. The template will describe data elements that CMS believes would support proper documentation requirements. The call is slated for 2-3 p.m. EST. To participate, call 800-837-1935 and use the ID 75391152.

Carolina’s HME teams up with hospice provider

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment has entered into a preferred provider relationship with Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region (HPCCR), a not-for-profit organization for patients with advanced illnesses, according to a press release. The relationship will offer HCPPR better control over costs, forecasting and budgeting, the release noted. “This enhanced collaboration will allow us to provide more efficient care to our patients, while at the same time help us to manage our costs and control our budget,” stated Peter Brunnick, HPCCR president and CEO. The organizations anticipate a smooth transfer of services under the partnership.

Docs to CMS: Streamline prescription process

LEAWOOD, Kan. – The American Academy of Family Physicians, an organization representing family doctors and medical students, is calling on CMS to simplify the Medicare requirements for prescribing diabetic supplies, according to a press release. The organization wants CMS to allow physicians to use more generic terms when writing prescriptions and to allow them to write open-ended prescriptions, the release noted. AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., said in a letter to CMS that lengthy requirements for Medicare glucose testing supplies often result in processing errors. He also said that having to specify the exact brand of machine, test strips or lancets needed by the patient can be onerous, and that the information is often immaterial. “Family physicians simply want to be able to efficiently and effectively prescribe what their diabetic patients need to help manage their condition in a way that maintains their health,” Stream wrote in the letter. “The current Medicare rules surrounding prescription of diabetic supplies impede this goal and add no discernible value to the care of such patients.”

People news

Mike Klooshas been named president of VGM Insurance, replacing Tom Jones, who retires May 31. Kloos joins VGM from TCF Equipment Finance, where he was senior vice president of strategic business development…James Binson, president of Binson’s Home Health Care Centers was honored recently with the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award from Northwood University in Midland, Mich. With seven locations in Michigan and two in Florida, Binson’s Home Health Care Centers will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in July…All-States Medical Supply has promoted Jason De Los Santos to president. Previously, he was vice president of operations.