In brief: Industry questions, CMS opines

Sunday, August 24, 2008

WASHINGTON - AAHomecare last week sent CMS a list of nearly two-dozen questions about the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement. Questions included: How will CMS develop appropriate payment amounts for episodes of maintenance of oxygen equipment; and how does CMS plan to reimburse for parts and labor after the rental period has ended? AAHomecare collected the questions from members. The association also requested an in-person meeting with CMS staff to further discuss the cap. In a letter to CMS, the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) encouraged the agency to respond to the questions. The letter states: "It is crucial that these fees and payment policy be developed and released no later than Oct. 1, 2008, in order to allow suppliers time to make informed decisions about their future in the provision of oxygen." To view the questions that AAHomecare submitted, go to

CMS releases update, announces special forum
BALTIMORE - CMS last week tried to clear up confusion surrounding the accreditation deadline for DMEs that serve hospices. In an update to its Aug. 12 Open Door Forum, CMS stated that DMEs that serve hospices must give them letters to keep on file that state they have applied to become accredited by September 2009 and are waiting to hear back from accrediting agencies. DMEs must do this even if they serve only hospices and don't have Medicare supplier numbers. If a DME is owned by a hospice, it doesn't need to get accredited. In the update, CMS also states that it continues to examine the language of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), which delayed national competitive bidding. CMS will hold a special Open Door Forum on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. EST to provide guidance to DME providers on MIPPA. To participate, call 1-0800-837-1935 and use the code 61231070.

Pride's Meuser ends 20-year tenure
EXETER, Pa. - Pride President Dan Meuser is leaving the company after 20 years to pursue a career in public service, the company announced last week. Meuser joined the manufacturer in 1988. During his tenure, Pride's sales grew from $2 million to more than $400 million. Meuser took a leave of absence last fall to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In April, he lost in the primary, 52% to 48%. "My recent venture into politics, combined with my leadership of Pride Mobility's government-affairs initiatives, solidified my desire to pursue community- and government-related endeavors full time," said Meuser in a release. "I have always had a strong interest in government affairs on the federal, state, and local level." Meuser will maintain his shareholder position with Pride Mobility and will continue to hold a seat on the company's board of directors.

Earnings: Apria's still working on them
LAKE FOREST, Calif. - Apria Healthcare continues to evaluate its accounts receivable reserves, the provider announced last week. The reason? "To analyze how any potential correction should be treated and how the current and prior periods may be impacted," it stated in a release. Once Apria resolves the issue, it will file earnings for the period ended June 30, 2008, and announce an earnings conference call. The lenders under Apria's existing credit agreements have consented to the delay, it stated in the release. In June, Apria announced that it had negotiated a $1.6 billion buyout offer from an affiliate of The Blackstone Group.

Rotech gets official boot
ORLANDO, Fla. - The NASDAQ announced last week that it will delist Rotech Healthcare stock from its exchange. It had suspended the provider's stock on June 12, 2008, and it has not traded since then. NASDAQ plans to file a Form 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and once that firm is filed, the delisting becomes effective in 10 days.

Noridian names new medical director
FARGO, N.D. - Noridian Administrative Services, the DME MAC for Jurisdiction D, named Dr. Richard Whitten its new medical director last week. Whitten, an internist who has worked for Noridian for eight years as its Part B medical director, replaces Dr. Robert Szczys. Earlier this month, Szczys became the medical director for Pricing, Data Analysis and Coding (PDAC), the new SADMERC. Previously, Whitten was the medical director of the Washington State Health Care Authority and its Basic Health Plan.

DME MAC publishes hospital bed warning
FARGO, N.D. - Hospital beds have a high provider compliance error rate in Jurisdiction D, Noridian Administrative Services, the DME MAC for that region, stated in a bulletin last week. A review of claims showed that claims are being billed for patients who do not meet the coverage criteria as noted in the local coverage determination for hospitals beds and accessories. The bulletin provides a refresher on those coverage criteria. Go to for more information.