In brief: Industry must keep pushing Meek bill

Thursday, January 7, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Industry stakeholders were optimistic on Friday that last week's "Meek Week" would net some new co-sponsors for H.R. 3790. The bill, introduced by Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla. would eliminate national competitive bidding. "We will be adding co-sponsors based on informal information that we've heard this week," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare, which spearheaded the grassroots effort. Providers were encouraged to contact their lawmakers—back in their home districts for the holiday break—to discuss the value of home care. The bill currently has 118 co-sponsors, but needs 218; and the industry has its work cut out to get that next 100. "Each and every cosponsor now becomes harder to get," said Gorski. "We've (already got the support of) those people that have been strongly with us in the past. Now we are slogging through and convincing (potential co-sponsors) that problems actually exist with the program." House members return to work Jan. 12.

Work continues on separate benefit

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The steering committee working on a separate benefit for complex power wheelchairs expects to hold a Webinar for providers and manufacturers on Jan. 22 to discuss a new white paper detailing proposed changes. It also expects to hold Webinars for consumers and clinicians on Jan. 26 and 28, respectively. “What the different work groups are working on now is taking concepts and making them specific changes,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, last week. “The group working on coverage and policy changes—they’re spending the most time doing that.” The committee’s timeline also includes securing consumer support in February, finding legislative champions in March and developing legislative language in April and May. The committee plans to bring Avalere Health back into the fold to help it develop legislative and regulatory language. It contracted the consulting firm last year to identify its options for creating a separate benefit.

Managed care contractor moves into HME industry

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Univita Health, a home health organization that provides integrated aging in place services for seniors, stepped into the HME market with its acquisition last week of Davie, Fla.-based Atenda Healthcare Solutions and its affiliates, including Florida Home Medical Equipment. Atenda provides HME, specialty infusion pharmacy and nursing services to 1.3 million managed care patients. "Atenda provides a strong platform by which we can broaden Univita's home healthcare services and continue transforming the way healthcare is provided in the home," stated Univita President/CEO Hugh Lytle in a release. Univita is backed by private equity firm Genstar Capital. Univita launched in December 2008 and has more than $200 million in revenues.

FAA approves more portable concentrators

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration approved four more portable oxygen concentrators for air travel last week, bringing the total of approved units to 11. The newly authorized devices are DeVilbiss Healthcare's iGo, International Biophysics Corporation's LifeChoice, Inogen's Inogen One G2 and Oxlife's Independence Oxygen Concentrator. POCs approved earlier for air travel inclulde AirSep’s LifeStyle and FreeStyle; Inogen's Inogen One; SeQual Technologies' Eclipse; Philips Respironics's EverGo; Delphi Medical Systems' RS-00400; and Invacare Corporation's XPO2.

Frustrated with CMS? This may be your chance to vent

BALTIMORE – CMS has launched its fifth healthcare provider satisfaction survey of the Medicare fee-for-service contractors, the agency announced last week. The Medicare Contractor Provider Satisfaction Survey (MCPSS) allows providers to give their feedback on their satisfaction, attitudes, perceptions and opinions about the services provided by the contractors. Survey questions focus on provider inquiries; provider outreach and education; claims processing; appeals; provider enrollment; medical review; and provider and audit reimbursement. CMS will invite about 30,000 randomly selection providers to participate. It will release the results of the survey this summer. FMI: