In brief: Industry holds on, Medicare bill revived

Friday, January 25, 2013

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders continue to work behind the scenes on building support for the market-pricing program (MPP), but that’s about all they can say at this point. “We are pushing for strong champions and everything is on track with the Congressional Budget Office and the Legislative Counsel,” said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. Meanwhile, the wait goes on for the Round 2 single payment amounts, which are expected any day. So far, although CMS is more than a month behind schedule, the agency has not announced any plans to push back its July implementation date.

Congressman revives bill to repeal Medicare board

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., on Jan. 23 reintroduced a bill to repeal an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) tasked with reining in Medicare spending. The House of Representatives, but not the Senate, passed Roe’s original bill. Roe believes the IPAB, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, intervenes in the patient-doctor relationship. “I will continue to push for a full repeal of the IPAB, and I look forward to working with my colleagues—both Republicans and Democrats—to protect and preserve Medicare,” he stated in a prepared release. Roe is reintroducing the bill, H.R. 351, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, with 83 original bipartisan co-sponsors.

NAIMES makes acquisition

HALIFAX, Va. – NAIMES has acquired the Committee to Save Independent HME (CSIHME) suppliers, according to a press release. The move gives NAIMES expanded resources for its advocacy efforts. “We view this consolidation of the only two national groups focused solely on the small independent supplier as a positive strengthening of the NAIMES goals,” stated NAIMES President Wayne Stanfield. CSIHME was formed in 2009 to lobby on behalf of small independent providers, and to fight a proposed revision to the home oxygen benefit.

Mandatory mail order? Seniors concerned

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A survey that suggests seniors are leery of mandatory mail-order pharmacy services may cast a long shadow on Medicare’s national mail-order program for diabetes supplies. Respondents to the survey raised concerns about running out of medication, timeliness, and the possibility of medications getting lost in the mail or stolen. “Mail order is not for everyone,” stated B. Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO, in a press release. “In fact, consumers have said that it’s not for most people. Patients deserve a choice and they don’t like being told which pharmacy they have to use.” The national survey, conducted by MENTORx on behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), featured responses from 669 Medicare beneficiaries.  Fifty-five percent of respondents said they were also worried about losing access to a pharmacist they know and trust.

Telehealth to expand rapidly over next five years, study says

NORTHAMPTON, U.K. – By 2017, the number of patients remotely monitored by their healthcare provider is expected to balloon to 1.8 million patients worldwide, according to a new study from InMedica, a medical technology research division of IMS Research. By contrast, in 2012, that number was 308,000, the study states. These patients are being monitored for diseases such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension and mental health conditions. The expected rapid growth for telehealth monitoring is in part a response to healthcare providers seeking to reduce readmission rates. One challenge for telehealth: to become relevant for new conditions, the study states. “A major challenge for telehealth is for it to reach the wider population of ambulatory care patients,” stated Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at InMedica.

Hospital readmissions ‘frequent,’ studies find

CHICAGO – A pair of studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week explored some of the causes behind high hospital readmission rates for Medicare beneficiaries. One of the studies found that after discharge from acute care hospitals, emergency department visits within 30 days were common among adults and accounted for almost 40% of post-discharge hospital-based acute care visits. The study determined that improving care transitions should focus not only on decreasing readmissions but also on emergency department ED visits. A second study examined readmission diagnoses and timing among Medicare beneficiaries submitted within 30 days after hospitalization for heart failure, acute myocardial infarction and pneumonia. It found that readmissions were “frequent.” Among broad sample groups, readmission rates were highest for those with heart failure (24.8%). Acute myocardial infarction patients and pneumonia patients were readmitted at rates of 19.9% and 18.3%, respectively.

Poll: Majority oppose cutting Medicare to lower deficit

WASHINGTON – A new poll found that, while most people support deficit reduction, they want to do it without cutting major social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. According to the poll, which was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, almost 6 in 10 respondents opposed cutting Medicare as a means of shrinking the national deficit. An overwhelming majority of those polled (85%) said lawmakers should propose other alternatives, such as requiring drug makers to give the government better deals on medications for low-income seniors. Fifty-nine percent of those polled believe lawmakers should push for making higher-income seniors pay more for coverage.

Provider short takes

Online provider Disposable Medical Express is complementing its current product line of incontinence products and medical supplies with a host of nutritional supplements. Many of the supplements, like the powder-based Scandishake, are calorie-heavy and designed to help customers gain weight…Nunn’s Home Medical Equipment has donated $10,000 to Rome Memorial Hospital, according to a report from the Rome Observer. With the donation, the hospital purchased 100 preprinted whiteboards to help facilitate communication between providers, patients and their families.

Vendor short takes

Quantum Rehab has a new company logo. Featuring the slogan “Life Beyond Limits,” the new logo is designed to “match the evolving, cutting edge features and functionality of the Quantum product line,” according to a press release…Members of Ottobock’s marketing, sales and clinical teams have come together to form an upper limb prosthetics team. Ottobock tapped Dave Slipher, a business development manager and sales specialist, to lead the team...Invacare will release its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012 before the market opens on Friday, Feb. 8, according to a press release. The company will sponsor a conference call for investors and other interested parties on that day at 8:30 a.m. EST to discuss its quarterly performance (1-888-498-8379, ID 89525970)…Invacare has completed the sale of its medical supplies unit, Invacare Supply Group, to AssuraMed. AssuraMed, the parent company of Edgepark Medical Supplies and Independence Medical, purchased ISG for approximately $150.8 million in cash, which is subject to final post-closing adjustments.

Association news

An educational video released by NCART in 2011 has received an award, according to a letter to members from Executive Director Don Clayback. The video, entitled “Complex Rehab Technology: Essential for Health. Essential for Life,” was designed as a tool for policy makers, payers and others to learn about complex rehab technology (CRT)…The board of directors of the Illinois Association for Medical Equipment Services (IAMES) has hired Dublin, Ohio-based Select Association Management (SAM) to provide administrative services, according to a press release. Previously, Ty Bello managed IAMES.

People news

Merits has announced that Jonathan Cheng has relocated to Taiwan and now serves as vice president of the group. James Chang is now in charge of the group's U.S. distribution company as general manager....John Listonhas gone into business as an independent manufacturer’s representative for New England (Maine, N.H., R.I., Vt., Conn., Mass.). He has been in the homecare industry for 35 years, including a 19-year stint as a territory manager for Invacare…The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC) seeks nominees for the positions of director and public member director on its board of directors.