In brief: Cuts squeeze providers, patients; Drive gets inspired by rehab

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Friday, October 28, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa – Forty percent of the calls it receives through a hotline number are now from patients and caregivers who are being asked to pay out of pocket for their home medical equipment, according to People for Quality Care.

An increasing number of HME providers are filing claims non-assigned, requiring their patients to cover more of the cost of their equipment, PFQC said in an Oct. 24 press release.

“I just received a letter from my oxygen provider saying that they would not be taking assignment anymore, and I would be required to pay upfront for my supplies,” said Terrie of Grand Island, Neb., a caller to the hotline. “I am on a fixed income and don’t have the ability to do so.”

PFQC has seen an uptick in these types of calls in the wake of Medicare slashing reimbursement in non-competitive biddings areas on Jan. 1 and again on July 1.

Providers like Air-Way Medical in Bishop, Calif., say they have done all they can to save money—in addition to filing claims non-assigned, they’ve laid off staff and they’ve discontinued product categories.

“If I am forced to go bankrupt, no one else is left to fill this void,” said Glenn Steinke, owner of Air-Way Medical, which is the only provider with a physical location within 150 miles of the rural town.

In the release, PFQC calls on Congress to intervene in November, when lawmakers return to the Hill, by passing legislation that would retroactively delay the second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas on July 1.

“Many patients don’t have the financial capacity to take on this additional cost, yet the companies who serve them are operating in the red with Medicare’s current reimbursement,” said Kelly Turner, director of advocacy for PFQC, which maintains the hotline. “Both sides are being squeezed. It’s a no-win system.”

Drive gets inspired by rehab

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare will combine three of its rehab companies into one larger company called Inspired by Drive.

Together, the three companies—Columbia Medical, Specialized Orthotic Services and Wenzelite Rehab—have been contributors to the adult and pediatric rehab markets for more than 70 years.

Initially, Inspired by Drive will focus on enhancing existing products and creating new products in three pediatric rehab categories: alternative positioning, bathing/toileting and mobility. Longer term, the company will expand its product offerings into more complex rehab categories.

The headquarters for Inspired by Drive will be Columbia Medical’s current location in Sante Fe Springs, Calif.

Drive bought Columbia Medical, a manufacturer of pediatric wheelchairs, aircraft transfer chairs, bath and shower products, gait trainers and car seats, in 2015. It also bought U.K.-based SOS, the manufacturer of the P Pod, Nessie and other postural seating systems, that same year.

Drive bought Wenzelite Rehab, which manufacturers a full line of mobility and seating products for children, tens and adults with special needs, in 2003.

Last year, company officials said the addition of Columbia Medical and SOS to Wenzelite Rehab would help Drive make rehab more of a focus.

Long-term supplemental O2 has little affect on patients with stable COPD, study says

BALTIMORE – In patients with stable COPD, long-term supplemental oxygen does not result in a longer time to death or first hospitalization, nor does it provide sustained benefits regarding other measured outcomes, according to a recent study conducted by The Long-Term Oxygen Treatment Trial Research Group.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 738 patients at 42 centers with stable COPD and moderate resting or moderate exercise-induced desaturation, and followed them for one to six years.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive long-term supplemental oxygen or no long-term supplemental oxygen. In the supplemental-oxygen group, patients with resting desaturation were prescribed 24-hour oxygen, and those with desaturation only during exercise, were prescribed oxygen during exercise and sleep. 

Researchers found no significant difference between the supplemental-oxygen and the no-supplemental-oxygen groups in the time to death or first hospitalization, or in the rates of all hospitalizations, COPD exacerbations and COPD-related hospitalizations.

The study also found no consistent differences in measures of quality of life, lung function or the distance walked in six minutes.

Study shows self-monitoring tools make a difference, ResMed says

LOS ANGELES – More than 87% of CPAP users were compliant with their therapy when they used ResMed’s myAir and were monitored with AirView, according to the results of a study that will be presented at the CHEST annual meeting on Oct. 26. That’s compared to 70% of PAP users who were compliant when they were only monitored with AirView. “This new study shows that online self-monitoring tools engage patients and significantly improve their compliance and adherence to treatment,” said Adam Benjafield, ResMed’s medical director. The results of the observational study were based on 128,000 people with sleep apnea.  myAir, which is available on the web and via iPhone app to patients using ResMed’s Air10 devices, allows users to track the progress of their therapy between visits to their clinicians, including their daily sleep scores, details on four key treatment metrics and personalized coaching tips. Without wireless monitoring, CPAP adherence can be as low as 50%, according to ResMed.

Joint committees approve sleep apnea recommendations

WASHINGTON – The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board voted to approve guidelines for obstructive sleep apnea screening for truck drivers during a joint meeting on Oct. 24. The board also recommended a set of guidelines for when a truck driver should be required to have a sleep test, including mandatory screening for any truck driver with a body mass index of 40 or above, with admitted fatigue or sleeping during wakeful periods, or for any drivers who have been involved in a sleep-related motor vehicle accident. Screening could also be mandatory for drivers who possess a BMI of at least 33 and have at least three out of 11 risk factors, such as untreated hypertension, Type 2 diabetes or loud snoring. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will make the ultimate decision on whether or not to approve the guidelines. It isn’t expected to make a decision until the next administration.

DirectRx wins bid contract for nebulizers

TROY, Mich. – DirectRx Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy, says it has won a competitive bidding contract for nebulizers and related supplies as part of Round 1 2017. Under the contract, which runs from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018, DirectRx will supply nebulizers and supplies to Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas City, and in Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio and Union counties in Indiana. “DirectRx is proud to be awarded this contract so that we can further our vision of helping patients with respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD,” said Amanda Berishaj, PharmD, of DirectRx. “COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory conditions can be treated.” CMS is expected to announce all of the contract suppliers for Round 1 2017 this fall. It announced the payment amounts for the program in September. DirectRx, a family-owned pharmacy accredited by URAC, ACHC, NABP and WBENC, has grown to serve more than 38 states.

ConvaTec hits London market with $1.8B IPO

LONDON - ConvaTec on Wednesday raised nearly $1.8 billion in London's biggest initial public offering of 2016, according to news reports. The company, which manufactures ostomy, wound, skin, continence and other critical care products, will use the proceeds from the IPO to redeem or repay debt. ConvaTec's shares traded just below their offer price of $2.76, at $2.75. The IPO represents about 33.8% of the company's stock, assuming no exercise of an overallotment option, and will rise to 38.9% if the option is exercised in full. Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners, the private equity firms that own ConvaTec, will hold 45.1% and 19.5% of shares, respectively, assuming no exercise of the overallotment option.

Philips launches COPD hub

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Royal Philips has launched COPD insider, an online community dedicated to COPD care. Subscribers can access articles, videos, how-to guides and case studies to learn about leading insight and solutions for patient care. “COPD Insider is a new way to reach healthcare providers and offer educational solutions to help improve care for the millions of people living with COPD,” said Eli Diacopoulos, business leader, Home Respiratory Care, Philips, in a press release. COPD affects and estimated 24 million adults.

Mediware partners with McKesson

LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware and McKesson Medical-Surgical have entered into an integrated solution provider agreement for Mediware’s CareTend software. The integration will expand access to real-time pricing, inventory and delivery notifications and analytics, according to a release. “We are thrilled about the new relationship with McKesson, which will help providers manage their medical supplies and equipment, as well as pharmaceutical ordering and packaging needs, all in real-time,” added Paul O’Toole, vice president and general manager of Mediware’s Home Care Solutions division, in the release.

Medline invests $60M in facility

MUNDELEIN, Ill. – Medline has invested an additional $60 million to increase manufacturing of incontinence products at its Lithia Springs, Ga., facility. The investment has paved the way for a 400,000-square-foot expansion of the facility that will ensure products can be shipped to any of the company’s 40-plus distribution centers across the country. The facility, originally opened in 2011, spans 600,000 square feet and uses equipment that allows Medline to compress briefs, helping it to reduce packaging by 20%. The company estimates more than 25 million are affected by incontinence.

Invacare names new GM for Europe

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has appointed Ralf Ledda senior vice president and general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa effective Nov. 1. Ledda has more than 20 years of experience at Alber GmbH, Invacare’s German-based subsidiary that specializes in electromotive technology and power add-on devices for medical and recreational products. Most recently, he was the managing director of Alber. Invacare says it will expand the availability of Alber products as it continues its ongoing transformation to focus on clinical complex products and post-acute care. Those products include the Scalamobil stairclimbing systems, multiple power-assist devices for manual wheelchairs and Neodrive technology for e-bicycles.

Provider donates gift of mobility

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Designed Living plans to donate wheelchairs to the Free Wheelchair Mission, a nonprofit that provides wheelchairs to disabled people in developing nations. An estimated 100 million people in developing nations are in need of wheelchairs, according to a press release. "I was fortunate enough to participate in a distribution of wheelchairs in Lima, Peru and in Chennai, India,” said Fred Gladney, Designed Living president/CEO. “The expressions of gratitude on the faces of the recipients was unbelievably moving.” The provider offers DME, prosthetics and home and vehicle modifications for catastrophically injured workers.

RESNA calls for proposals for annual conference

ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA is now accepting proposals for workshops and instructional courses for its annual conference. The organization will accept proposals until Nov. 30 for RESNA 2017, June 25-29 at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans. Conference organizers seek proposals for innovative, interdisciplinary, informative and practical workshops and instructional courses in the following topic areas:  computer applications and communications; cognitive and sensory impairments; internationally appropriate technology; job and environment accommodation; emerging technology; service delivery and outcomes; public policy and advocacy; and seating and mobility, including complex rehab technology. In addition to workshops and instructional courses, RESNA 2017 will offer scientific research platform and poster sessions; professional development and leadership training; interactive exhibits; networking events; and student competitions.