In brief: GAO clears way for Connolly, stakeholders #Tweet4CRT

Friday, April 10, 2015

WASHINGTON – CMS will likely move forward with Connolly as its contractor for the new national RAC for DMEPOS, home health and hospice, according to industry consultant Andrea Stark.

In its bid protest docket, the Government Accountability Office lists two protests filed by Performant Recovery on Jan. 6 and Feb.17 as dismissed. This means the protests had a technical or procedural flaw, such as timeliness or jurisdiction, or the agency has taken corrective action that addresses the protests, according to the GAO website.

“We speculate that the contract will proceed with Connolly unless Performant Recovery takes the opportunity to submit another bid protest, if the timeliness of a protest is made viable through the dismissal process,” Stark wrote on the MiraVista website.

CMS announced in December that it had picked Connolly, the current RAC for Jurisdiction C, as the new national RAC for DMEPOS, home health and hospice. The agency had to put its plans on hold, however, when Performant Recovery, the current RAC for Jurisdiction A, protested the award.

While the GAO’s decision likely green lights CMS to move forward with Connolly, Stark points out that nothing is official—yet.

“CMS has not directly addressed the status of these protests,” she wrote.

Stakeholders launch #Tweet4CRT

WASHINGTON – NCART, U.S. Rehab and People for Quality Care have launched #Tweet4CRT to fight CMS’s plan to apply competitive bidding pricing to accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs. Stakeholders plan to use the social media campaign to boost congressional support for a “Dear Colleague” letter asking CMS not to make the change, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. The campaign encourages Twitter users to visit to send a specialized tweet to their representative asking him or her to sign on to the letter. Forty-four representatives have signed the letter so far—stakeholders are aiming to get many more. “Without action, the changes could impact up to 171 product codes with reductions from 20% to 50%,” stated Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, in the release.

HQAA gets seal of approval in Arkansas

WATERLOO, Iowa – The Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation has been approved as an accreditation organization by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arkansas as of April 1, 2015. The recognition extends to the insurer’s affiliated companies, USAble Corporation and Health Advantage. “Now HQAA customers can apply to be preferred providers and, if approved, their customer base can expand to serve Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas patients,” stated Mary Nicholas, president/CEO of HQAA in a press release. HQAA is a CMS-deemed authority for DMEPOS accreditation. It offers programs for HME, infusion/home IV compounding, pharmacy, physician practices and facility-based ventilator unit providers, as well as third-party billing organizations.

Stratice Healthcare partners with NewCrop

CARMEL, Ind. – Stratice Healthcare and NewCrop have partnered to provide an integrated HME ordering solution for electronic health record systems. As part of a nationwide rollout beginning in April, Stratice Healthcare will integrate NewCrop’s 180-plus EHR platform with its eDMEplus, a cloud-based electronic ordering system connecting healthcare providers with a nationwide network of more than 10,000 HME providers. “This partnership is the beginning of a dramatic shift in the way HME supplies are prescribed by care providers,” stated Jason Farmer, president of Stratice Healthcare in a release.

RESNA supports tech innovation

NEW YORK – RESNA has partnered with New York University and AT&T on Connect Ability, a competition offering more than $100,000 in prizes to developers for software, wearable and other technology solutions that enhance the lives of people with disabilities. Launched April 6 in New York City, the competition seeks to honor the American with Disabilities Act, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on July 26. NYU and AT&T are partnering with national experts like RESNA to help form teams of engineers and persons with disabilities in at least six metro regions with large numbers of computer science, rehabilitation science and engineering students.

Sigvaris sponsors lymphedema, wound care certification

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. – Sigvaris and the International Lymphedema & Wound Care Training Institute have teamed up to offer what they say is the only certification program focused on wound care and lymphedema. The program, which includes 62.5 hours of online pre-course work followed by six days of labs and workshops, is designed to educate medical professionals as they help treat patients with chronic wounds, lymphedema and edema. The program is accredited by the physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing state boards for 135 hours/150 contract hours of continuing education.

Associations recruit allies in bid fight

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Members of Big Sky AMES met with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., on April 7 to discuss the competitive bidding program. “Sen. Enzi pledged to support our industry and agrees with the need for reform,” said Aaron Durst, Big Sky president, in a newsletter from The VGM Group. “I think (he) will (be) a valuable ally in the future.” Competitive bidding pricing is scheduled to roll out nationwide in 2016 and is expected to hit rural areas especially hard. Big Sky has also met with the office of Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and plans to meet with Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., this week. Other state associations, including the North Carolina Association of Medical Equipment Services and the Pacific Association of Medical Equipment Services, also have meetings with lawmakers scheduled.

Mediware ups its analytics game

LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems and Rock-Pond Solutions have agreed to jointly distribute their software products and collaborate on new products. The combined offerings of the two companies provide an end-to-end technology solution for providers who deliver home infusion, home medical equipment and specialty pharmacy services, according to a press release. “The combination of Rock-Pond’s reporting and analytics software and our new, next generation CareTend software will meet the needs of our post-acute care customers for years to come,” stated Mediware President and CEO Thomas Mann in the release. Mediware released CareTend earlier this year.

CMS reverses cut to MA plans

WASHINGTON – CMS has reversed a small cut to 2016 payments to Medicare Advantage plans. The agency in February stated payments would decline 0.95%, but last week it stated they would go up 1.25%. “The final revenue increase is larger than the February advance notice largely because the Medicare actuaries recently updated Medicare per capita spending estimates for 2014 and 2015,” CMS stated in a press release. “Medicare per capita spending in 2014, 2015 and 2016 is still expected to be below historical standards.” The agency says payments will likely actually increase 3.25% as insurers deliver and bill for more intensive services.  

Geneva Woods Pharmacy, Frontier Medical integrate

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Geneva Woods Pharmacy has completed its integration with Frontier Medical, positioning itself to meet the needs of patients, discharge planners and healthcare providers throughout Alaska. As part of the integration, Gabby Lujan, founder and CEO of Frontier Medical, and Dick Hobbs, COO of Frontier Medical, have joined GWP’s management team. The two companies, former competitors, pride themselves on offering long-term care pharmacy, HME, complex rehab and respiratory services to under-served rural markets. “We started Frontier because our rural markets needed help,” Lujan stated in a press release. “Frontier and GWP proved there is a better way to deliver measurable outcomes for Alaskans who previously lacked these services at home.”