In brief: Inconsistencies in bid program, Trump’s new HHS nominee

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

BALTIMORE – CMS did not always follow its own procedures and federal requirements for awarding competitive bidding contracts consistently, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

CMS did not follow the bid process consistently for 23 of 215 winning suppliers, the OIG found.

Breaking it down, the agency awarded contracts to 10 suppliers that did not meet financial statement requirements and 13 suppliers that did not have the required license in at least one competition, according to the OIG.

The inconsistencies affected 99 of the 240 sampled single payment amounts, the OIG found.

Additionally, CMS did not monitor suppliers in accordance with established procedures and federal requirements for another 31 suppliers. These suppliers did not maintain the applicable license required by their contract for the last six months of 2013, according to the OIG.

With these errors, CMS paid suppliers $182,000 less than they should have, or less than .03% of the $553.7 million paid under Round 2 during the last six months of 2013, the OIG estimates.

The report recommends that CMS follow established program procedures and federal requirements consistently; ensure that suppliers have the required licensure; and monitor supplier licensure requirements by implementing a system to identify potential unlicensed suppliers.

Trump to nominate ‘star’ to lead HHS

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will nominate former pharmaceutical executive and industry lobbyist Alex Azar to the top post at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to news reports.

Trump tweeted on Monday: “He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.”

The nomination follows the resignation of Trump’s first HHS secretary, Tom Price. Price left HHS in September amid an investigation into his use of charter flights instead of cheaper commercial flights.

Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Previously, he was president of Lilly USA, an affiliate of Eli Lilly, from January 2012 to January 2017.

Azar has worked at HHS before: From 2005-07, he was a deputy secretary in the department, and from 2001-05, he was general counsel.

Azar’s nomination must be approved by the Senate.

CareCentrix looks into offshore activity

HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has clarified the intent of its offshore policy, in response to a query from AAHomecare. The company recently updated its manual to state that providers may not “(1) perform or engage with business agents to perform any functions, activities or services under its agreement with CareCentrix from a location outside the United States; or (2) send or transmit to, or access, members’ protected healthcare information or other personal information from outside the United States.” CareCentrix said the purpose of the change is to determine: Do its providers actually have PHI offshore; and if they do, what are the specific details on what is being sent offshore, and what security measures are in place to ensure regulatory privacy and security? After CareCentrix receives information from providers, it will make a determination as to whether or not steps need to be taken to ensure that regulatory guidelines are met. AAHomecare says it has been assured that contracts will not be terminated if providers indicate they are using offshore services.

F&P wins patent case in UK

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The English Patents Court has sided with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, saying a ResMed patent for masks is invalid in the U.K. “While today’s ruling is just one more step on the journey, it reinforces our confidence in our position, and we are satisfied with progress so far,” said Lewis Gradon, managing director and CEO, in a press release. In 2016, F&P sought a declaration from the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Patents Court in the U.K. that three of ResMed’s European patents were invalid in the U.K. and should be revoked. ResMed counterclaimed for infringement, but just before the trial was set to start, the company revoked two patents, leaving only one before the court. ResMed responded to the ruling, saying it was pleased by the court’s “unambiguous statement regarding our assertion that Fisher & Paykel’s Simplus and Eson masks infringe ResMed’s patent” and pointing out the court’s statement that, “Had it been valid it would have been infringed.” ResMed says it is considering an appeal.

Quantum Rehab hosts design forums

EXETER, Pa. – Quantum Rehab recently hosted its 2017 Design Forums for Rehab Professionals. The two-day events brought together clinicians from rehab facilities across the country to share their experience with ways to improve existing technology, and new ideas for products and services. “We seek constant input from consumers, providers and clinicians to ensure Quantum delivers innovative, market-driven mobility technology,” said Jay Brislin, vice president of Quantum Rehab, in a release.

AOPA, O&P News ‘perfect fit’

WASHINGTON – The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association has agreed to buy O&P News Magazine from SLACK Inc., it announced today. “(It’s) the perfect fit of O&P News with AOPA’s objective to expand communications with the O&P community to ensure that the latest in research and technology developments and information is served up in as many forums as possible,” said Michael Oros, AOPA president. “O&P News has the potential to play an important role in that endeavor.” AOPA already publishes the O&P Almanac. The association plans to explore opportunities to diversify content toward the practitioner and referral community with O&P News.

FAHCS hosts successful conference

FORT LAUDERDALE – The Florida Alliance of Home Care Services welcomed Madeline Delp, Ms. Wheelchair USA, to its Fall Conference, held Nov. 8 and 9. As the conference keynote speaker, Delp shared her experiences and illustrated why it’s important for the HME industry to assist patients as best as they can, said FAHCS in a release. The association’s current agenda includes working with AAHomecare and The VGM Group on payer issues, and reaching out to third-party administrators in an effort to build relationships for constructive dialogue.

ISS releases program, opens registration

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The program and registration for the 34th International Seating Symposium, March 6-9 at the Westin Bayshore here, is now available online. The event’s program addresses current and future developments in seating, positioning and mobility, with topic areas that include service delivery, product development, research and outcomes. It features pre-symposium, plenary, instructional, paper and poster sessions. Sponsors of the event include Inspired by Drive, Invacare, Ki Mobility, Permobil, Comfort Company, Quantum Rehab, Sunrise Medical and Stealth Products. ISS is considered one of the premier meetings in the world for clinicians, researchers, manufacturers and others who work to improve seating and mobility for people with disabilities. The event is hosted by Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children and the University of British Columbia.

Mediware, Empire Home Infusion go deeper

LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems has announced that Empire Home Infusion Services in Ballston Spa, N.Y., has expanded its partnership with the company to include on-site consulting and training. The provider, part of the St. Peter’s Health Partners System, says the consulting and training has improved its relationships with referral sources. “We can now stand by our commitment to always respond to incoming referrals within thirty minutes,” said Michelle Mazzacco, vice president of the community services division at St. Peter’s Health Partners. “In addition, we have streamlined insurance verification and how we manage Part D claims so that our business minimizes the risk of unpaid claims and, in turn, reduces our overall bad debt.” Empire Home Infusion has relied on Mediware Reimbursement Services to manage its billing and collection needs since 2004.

Philips launches COPD campaign featuring marathoner

AMSTERDAM – Royal Philips has launched a “global movement” to raise awareness for COPD ahead of World COPD Day on Nov. 15. Philips is collaborating with marathoner Russell Winwood, who has COPD, to create motivational content designed to help educate, engage and empower COPD patients and their caregivers. The company is working with Winwood to share his personal journey with other COPD patients to inspire them to live their lives to the fullest. Six months after his diagnosis, he completed his first full Ironman and continues to participate in triathlons around the world, showing that a COPD diagnosis does not need to stop patients from enjoying their favorite activities. Philips has also committed to donating $1 to The COPD Foundation for every campaign video share throughout November, which is COPD Awareness Month. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and is expected to be the third leading cause by 2020.

Wearables can help predict hypertension, sleep apnea

SAN FRANCISCO – Off-the-shelf wearables and a multi-task deep learning algorithm are “surprisingly good” predictors of hypertension and sleep apnea, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco have found. “Whether such (devices) can provide durable and portable predictions for these conditions in other study samples is worth pursuing,” they wrote. Wearables and deep learning algorithms use PPG sensors and accelerometers to determine heart rate variability and activity patterns, which have been associated with incident hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea. The results were not statistically significant for diabetes.

ResMed announces board change

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has named Karen Drexler to its board of directors, the company has announced. Drexler is CEO and board member of Bay area biotech company Sandstone Diagnostics, and has extensive healthcare management experience. "I'm thrilled to welcome Karen Drexler to ResMed's Board," said ResMed Founder and Board Chairman Peter Farrell. "Her deep expertise in advising and managing medical device, digital health and diagnostic companies, and particularly her experience in technology and out-of-hospital care models, will serve ResMed well as we continue to deepen our leadership in connected care and digital health." Drexler replaces Dr. Chris Roberts, who has retired after serving more than 25 years on the board.

Pediatrics: Thrive Skilled Pediatric Care, Kids Mobility Network

Wakefield, Mass.-based Thrive Skilled Pediatric Care has acquired Richmond-Va.-based The Pediatric Connection, which has three locations in Virginia, according to a local news article. The Pediatric Connection offers respiratory equipment and nutritional services…Denver-based Kids Mobility Network has provided more than $5 million in durable medical equipment to children with disabilities. The nonprofit has provided wheelchairs, walkers and other DME since 2006.