In brief: Industry remains steadfast, pressures mount in sleep market

Friday, July 1, 2016

WASHINGTON – A second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts was set to go into effect in non-bid areas on July 1, but it’s not time to throw in the towel, AAHomecare said in a bulletin on June 29.

“There’s nothing like a crisis to help spur legislators to action,” the association stated. “We need to make sure that we let the House of Representatives and the Senate know that these cuts are taking rural providers and patients to the precipice of disaster.”

The Senate passed a bill that would delay the second round of cuts for one year, until July 1, 2017. But the House failed to pass a bill that would delay the cuts for three months before Congress recessed for the July 4th holiday.

The impasse is already resonating throughout the industry, with providers like Gary Sheehan deciding not to accept new patients on Nantucket Island effective July 1.

“The reality is fairly simple,” said Sheehan, CEO of Cape Medical Supply in Sandwich, Mass., in a statement on the company’s website.“The cost of acquiring and maintaining equipment, paired with the cost to provide the required services and support to patients, now far exceeds the reimbursement associated with that equipment and service. Because of that simple fact, we need to make extremely difficult decisions.”

New analysis from AAHomecare reveals the average change between the 2015 fee schedule and the July 1 rates, which incorporate two rounds of cuts, is 51.1% in non-bid areas.

“The July 1 cuts for rural providers are brutal and unsustainable,” the association stated. “Our industry’s task remains unchanged—we need to pass rural relief legislation.”

Congress returns from its break on July 5 and 6.

Pressures mount in sleep market

NEW YORK – HME providers report sleep patient volume is still growing, but not as much as in the past.

Sleep patient volume grew 3.6% in the last 12 months and is expected to grow 6% in the next 12 months, according to respondents to the “HME Sleep and Oxygen Survey” for the second quarter of this year, conducted by Needham & Co., a subsidiary of The Needham Group, an investment banking and asset management firm.

However, sleep patient volume was 6.6% and 7.9%, respectively, in a prior survey.

Providers also report that flow generator prices have declined 3.2%, compared to 2.1% in a prior survey, and mask prices have declined 2.4% vs. 1.4%. Driving lower pricing: the latest Medicare reimbursement cuts, according to Needham.
Other highlights from the report include ratings for ResMed’s flow generators have decreased, while ratings for Philips Respironics’ flow generators have increased. Flow generators from both companies are now both at 5.8 out of 7, according to the survey.

The survey also polled HME providers on home oxygen therapy. They report portable oxygen concentrators are expected to increase from 22.4% of the market to 26.8% of the market over the next 12 months. The highest rated POC, at 5.8 out of 7, was a private label device from Inogen, followed by the SimplyGo from Respironics and the G3 from Inogen.

The survey results are based on 87 respondents.

VGM’s retail experts hit the road

ATLANTA – The 2016 VGM Retail Science Roadshow will culminate in an eight-hour show at Medtrade, Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Atlanta. Before Medtrade, however, the roadshow will make pit stops in Louisville, Ky., on July 19 and Dallas on Sept. 13. The roadshow is a one-day, hands-on educational event sponsored by VGM and led by Jim Greatorex and Maria Markusen. It provides practical tips, techniques and strategies for retail business. Attendees will also learn from vendors about the latest and greatest retail products. Pricing for VGM members is $79.99 for the first attendee, and $49.99 for additional attendees.

Horton’s O&P goes high tech

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics now uses high-precision CAD/CAM scanning technology. The provider has acquired a Vorum CAD/CAM scanner and high-speed carver, becoming the first in the state to deliver a faster and more comfortable experience for patients needing new orthotic and prosthetic devices. This technology can digitally capture an amputee or injured patient’s limb shape with a pinpoint level of accuracy, the provider says. “Technicians can them use the program’s software to modify the shape and create a successfully fitting socket or brace design that can be fabricated quickly and efficiently,” it stated in a press release. “Using this technology, the initial fabrication processes that took nearly two hours will now take only two minutes.” Horton’s employs more than 35 at five facilities across the state.

Providers seek tax-exempt status for HME

LAS VEGAS – A group of providers on June 27 submitted more than 100,000 signatures to qualify an initiative to exempt certain HME from taxation for the November ballot, according to news reports. If it qualifies for the ballot, the initiative will ask voters whether certain HME, including oxygen tanks, ventilators and wheelchairs, should be exempt from the state’s sales and use tax. Orthotics, prosthetics and certain other medical supplies are already exempt. Provider Doug Bennett of Bennett Medical Services told a local news outlet that the group has self-verified 66,000 signatures and is confident the petition will go through.

ResMed secures contract

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has been awarded a three-year supplier group-purchasing contract from Premier, a healthcare improvement alliance. The contract will enable Premier member hospitals and providers to offer ResMed’s non-invasive ventilator products, according to a release. "Partnering with Premier also expands our market and provides us with more feedback from patients and providers to help drive our next innovations and keep pushing the boundaries in the medical technology space,” said Jon Yerbury, vice president of marketing, ResMed Americas. Premier unites an alliance of approximately 3,600 U.S. hospitals and 120,000 other providers.

TotalCare launches sleep pilot

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – TotalCare eHealth has finalized its Sleep Apnea Continuum of Care Program and launched a primary care pilot program. The program will provide a digitally connected patient experience across the continuum of care to increase patient engagement, improve outcomes and reduce costs. The pilot location is South Pointe Clinics in Lafayette, Colo. "We've always known that the key to effective sleep apnea management is at the primary point of care, and we are thrilled to have an enthusiastic partner in this pilot,” said Doug Hudiburg, CEO of TotalCare. “South Pointe understands the importance of reaching the un-diagnosed sleep apnea population within their current patient population and within their community in general."

BraunAbility, Permobil join forces to improve lives

WINAMAC, Ind. – BraunAbility and Permobil have partnered on a research project to improve the interface between wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vehicles. The two organizations will collaborate on technical research and engineering with the ultimate goal of increasing independence and improving the total mobility experience for individuals with physical disabilities. “Individually our brands have contributed huge advancements in mobility over our long histories,” said Nick Gutwein, CEO of BraunAbility. “Now our paths have converged, and we are confident the result will be technology that empowers our customers with unprecedented freedom and the autonomy to more fully experience and enjoy life.” BraunAbility and Permobil are sister companies owned by parent company Investor AB.

Schryver Medical bolsters presence in Texas

DENVER – Schryver Medical Sales and Marketing, a provider of mobile imaging diagnostics, clinical laboratory services and DME, has completed its acquisition of Professional Clinical Laboratory. The acquisition bolters Schryver’s presence in the Texas market, where it began offering services last December following its acquisition of Community Portable X-Ray and MetroState Clinical Laboratory. Schryver, a portfolio company of Revelstoke Capital Partners, a Denver-based private equity firm, serves nearly 4,000 long-term post-acute facilities, assisted-living centers, and skilled nursing facilities, as well as numerous homecare patients.

Nonin Medical shakes up management

MINNEAPOLIS – Nonin Medical has made several changes to its senior leadership team. Mattew Prior has been named vice president of business development; he was previously vice president of product development. Greg Rausch has been named vice president of product development; he was previously director of advanced technology. Jill Wroblewski has been named senior director of marketing; she was previously director of business development. The changes, effective immediately, are meant to more quickly align the technology driven company with today’s rapidly changing customer needs, it says in a press release.

Good works

Aeroflow Healthcarerecently made a donation to help a local elementary school build a playground that is accessible for children at all levels of mobility. The donation will allow Fairview Elementary to install poured-in-place barrier free surfacing and new playground equipment. The Asheville, N.C.-based Aeroflow is committed to charitable acts, including canned food drives and fundraisingConvaid and R82 presented a donation at the 14th Annual Rett Syndrome Symposium. Convaid and R82 comprise the Pediatric Group of Etac NA.

Top honors

Pediatric Home Servicehas been recognized as one of Minnesota’s Top 150 Workplaces by the Star Tribune. PHS was named eighth best mid-size company. It’s the sixth year in a row that the St. Paul, Minn.-based PHS has made the list …Rex Pharmacy has been named the 2016 Pharmacy of the Year by McKesson. The award recognizes independent pharmacies that are driving the future of independent pharmacies, according to a release. The Atlantic, Iowa-based Rex Pharmacy was honored at an awards ceremony at the McKesson ideaShare 2016 conference in Chicago.

People news

James Newberry, a longtime practitioner and board member for the Board of Certification/Accreditation, passed away on June 27. He began his career as an orthotist/prosthetist while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Following his military service, he joined Mahnke’s Orthotics and Prosthetics in Oakland Park, Fla., where he spent more than 40 years as owner, practitioner and director of orthotics/prosthetics. He was certified by BOC since 1984, when the organization was founded…Chris Roussos, CEO of Epic Health Services, has been named EY Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southwest. Since becoming CEO in 2014, Roussos has brought unprecedented growth to the company, successfully positioning it as the sole nationwide provider of a complete post-acute continuum of care for pediatric patients. In less than two years, the company, a Dallas-based provider of pediatric skilled nursing, therapy, developmental, enteral and respiratory services, has completed 10 acquisitions and now operates in 17 states…Regina Gillispie of Best Home Medical in Barboursville, W.Va., has been appointed to the National Small Business Administration’s Health and Human Resource Issue Committee. This will provide Gillispie the opportunity to broaden the interest of DME issues.