In brief: GAO rejects protest, Hoveround lays off 20

Friday, January 31, 2014

NEW YORK – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has denied Rotech’s protest that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) unreasonably ignored recent, relevant information when it decided Rotech wasn’t financially fit to win contracts to supply veterans with home oxygen equipment, Law360 reports. The VA contended that Rotech, which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April, didn’t qualify as a “responsible contractor,” according to the story. The VA’s contracting officer based the determination on a Dun & Bradstreet report from June that placed Rotech in the highest risk category, and on a May statement that the company marketed itself for sale, according to the GAO report. The VA awarded the contested contracts, worth $42 million, to Norco, Care Medical Equipment and Apria.

Medicaid could have saved 23% by using bid pricing

BALTIMORE – State Medicaid programs could have saved 23%, or $62 million, if they had paid the median competitive bidding rates for incontinence supplies in 2012, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). An added bonus, the OIG states: increased beneficiary access, increased product quality and program control. “However, states reported encountering initial challenges with their competitive bidding programs, and six states attempted to establish competitive bidding but did not fully implement it,” the OIG states. Overall, state Medicaid programs spent $266 million on nine types of disposable incontinence supplies, the OIG found.

Hoveround lays off 20 workers

SARASOTA, Fla. – Power-wheelchair provider Hoveround has laid off 20 workers from its headquarters, reducing its work force here to 294, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The company blamed competitive bidding for the layoffs, saying the program has forced it to “streamline customer calls,” according to the story. As part of competitive bidding, Hoveround received contracts in 85% of its market areas, but it was forced to accept a reduction in reimbursement of 47%. “We have to become more efficient, or die,” CEO Tom Kruse told the Herald-Tribune.

Medicare fraud efforts pay off

WASHINGTON – The Medicare Strike Force set record numbers for healthcare prosecutions last year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Jan. 27. The Strike Force, a partnership between the DOJ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), filed 137 cases, charged 345 individuals and secured 234 guilty pleas in fiscal year 2013. Its work also resulted in 46 jury trial convictions. Since its inception in 2007, the Strike Force has charged more than 1,700 defendants representing more than $5.5 billion in claims. It currently operates in Baton Rouge, La.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; and Tampa, Fla. A recent report by the Office of Inspector General found that for every $1 spent by the DOJ and HHS to fight healthcare fraud, the U.S. Treasury and the Medicare Trust Fund receives $8.

CMS repairs web glitch

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – CMS has corrected an issue in the DME MAC claim system that had been affecting processing, CGS said in a Jan. 24 bulletin. Claims are now being processed using ordering/referring physician data from PECOS, according to the statement. Any claims incorrectly denied because of the problem will be reprocessed automatically, CGS said. In addition, the myCGS web portal and Jurisdiction C IVR are assessing the corrected ordering/referring physician file, according to the bulletin.

Inadequate documentation behind high power wheelchair denial rate

INDIANAPOLIS - National Government Services denied 79.8% of power wheelchair claims between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 because paperwork failed to demonstrate beneficiaries’ needs, according to a recent bulletin. The Jurisdiction B DME MAC reviewed 613 claims in a prepayment review and found most were denied because face-to-face documentation failed to prove: a manual wheelchair was insufficient; that the beneficiary’s mobility limitations required a power device; or why the power-operated vehicle would not meet the beneficiary’s needs in the home, according to the bulletin. Others were denied because they did not show the beneficiary was unable to propel a manual chair.

Barbara Rogers: Industry remembers advocate

SAN DIEGO – Barbara Rogers, president and CEO of the National Emphysema/COPD Association, passed away Dec. 7. An appointee to the first CMS Program Advisory and Oversight Committee on the bidding program, Rogers supported portable oxygen technology, advocated for respiratory patients and encouraged them to get involved, too, AAHomecare said in a recent bulletin. “We have lost a great industry advocate who fought for freedom of choice for oxygen patients,” said Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president and CEO, in the bulletin. 

New device alleviates COPD symptoms

LONDON – Researchers at London’s Western University have tested the Aerobika Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy System and say it improves COPD therapy, reducing breathlessness in patients, product developers say. The device helped study participants more easily move mucus out of their lungs, according to developer Trudell Medical International. “Drug treatment is often the preferred method, but may not be completely effective in achieving adequate airway clearance,” said Trudell CEO Mitch Baran, in a release. “Each patient’s COPD, be it chronic bronchitis, emphysema or any other lung disease, is unique and may need a variety of therapies.” The product has regulatory approval in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe.

VGM ready to charge on audits

WASHINGTON – The VGM Group is urging providers to attend the Feb. 12 Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals’ Medicare Appellants Forum and has reserved a block of hotel rooms for attendees at the Embassy Suites in Crystal City. VGM will host a meeting the night of Feb. 12 to discuss the forum and plans for the next day. VGM will live-tweet the forum. Follow at #VGMAuditMadness. 

Registration opens for CRT event

EAST AMHURST, N.Y. – Registration is open for the 2014 National CRT Leadership and Advocacy Conference, to be held April 29-May 1 in Arlington, Va. Hosted by NCART and NRRTS, the event draws together complex rehab stakeholders for education, networking and advocacy. FMI:

Moneyline: Roscoe, Prism Medical, Masimo

Roscoe Medical has acquired Revolution Mobility. The deal will allow Roscoe to expand its retail offerings…Prism Medical’s board of directors approved a dividend of $0.08 per common share, payable on March 3 to shareholders of record on Feb. 21, the company announced Jan. 28…Masimo will release its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2013 during a Feb. 13 conference call.

Short takes

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based National Seating & Mobility kicked off a company-wide engagement tour Jan. 29. Chief operating officer Sandi Schwartz Neiman will visit company branches across the U.S….Honesdale, Pa.-based Wayne Health Pharmacy and Medical Equipment is hosting an official opening of its new retail store Feb. 14, offering health presentations, foot screenings and information on breathing devices…New Berlin, Wis.-based Home Care Medical is kicking off its Gold-Silver-Bronze Giveaway promotion just in time for the Winter Olympics, it announced in a Jan. 25 release. Through Feb. 28, customers can enter to win gold, silver or bronze prizes…GF Health Products now has a bi-dimensional fiber optic laser cutting system in its Fond Du Lac, Wis., facility, the company announced Jan. 27. The facility, where GF manufactures its Patriot Homecare Bed, is already home to a fiber optic laser tube cutting system

People news: David Baxter, Ann Fabry

David Baxter is the new vice president of marketing at Harmar, the company announced Jan. 30. With 18 years of experience, Baxter will lead new product development, market research and marketing communications for the accessibility and mobility manufacturer … Home Care Medical has promoted Ann Fabry to chief financial officer and vice president of finance and operations. Fabry will oversee supply, including finance, purchasing and operations; seek new product and vendor opportunities and possible partnerships; and guide strategic planning.