In brief: Judge delivers mixed ruling, NSM names president

Friday, July 25, 2014

SAN DIEGO and BREA, Calif. – An International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled July 18 that the humidifier in Apex Medical’s iCH CPAP device infringes on ResMed patents, according to a press release from ResMed. Apex Medical had argued that it had redesigned the humidifier so that it no longer infringed on ResMed patents, the release states. “As a result, Apex should continue to be banned from selling the iCH humidifier in the United States,” ResMed states in the release. In its own press release, Apex Medical states it plans to introduce an upgraded iCH water tank in October. Apex Medical notes that the ITC found its newly designed XT series CPAP water tank free from patient claims asserted by ResMed. “Significantly, the ITC overruled the ALJ's negative finding regarding the newly designed XT series water tank,” Apex Medical stated in the release. The ITC also upheld a previous decision that Apex Medical’s Wizard 220 masks are free from patent claims. Apex Medical chose to withdraw its redesigned Wizard 210 nasal mask from the proceedings, according to the release from ResMed. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is also reviewing the validity of five patents from ResMed, including a claim related to the iCH water tank, through a procedure called inter partes review. The USPTO is expected to make a decision in early 2015.

New prez to drive growth at NSM

NASHVILLE – National Seating & Mobility (NSM) has named William Mixon president. “Bill is exactly the kind of talented executive we want to help us achieve the next phase of growth at NSM and continue to drive the company forward,” stated CEO Mike Ballard in a press release. Mixon has 24 years of experience in the healthcare and professional services industries, and more than 10 years of experience in general management, president and CEO roles. He most recently served as president for Universal Hospital Services, a provider of clinically focused asset management solutions and services involving mobile medical technology to the U.S. healthcare industry. Mixon has also worked at Philips Medical Systems, Baxter and American Hospital Supply Co.

Costs associated with COPD on the rise, report says

GLENVIEW, Ill. – Medical costs related to COPD will rise from $32.1 billion in 2010 to $49 billion in 2020, the American College of Chest Physicians estimates in a new report. The group, which presented its findings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 24, also estimate absenteeism costs were $3.9 billion in 2010, for a total of $36 billion in costs attributable to COPD. Private insurance picked up the tab for 18% of the medial costs associated with COPD, while Medicare paid 51% and Medicaid paid 25%, according to the report. "Evidence-based interventions that prevent and reduce tobacco use and reduce clinical complications of COPD may result in potential decreased COPD-attributable costs," said Earl Ford, MD, Division of Population Health, CDC, in a statement. In 2011, 12.7 million adults in the U.S. were believed to have COPD. However, nearly 24 million have evidence of impaired lung function, indicating an under-diagnosis of the disease, according to the report.

OIG to CMS: Get all drug manufacturers to submit ASPs

WASHINGTON – CMS lacks complete average sales price (ASP) data for certain drugs, hindering its ability to ensure that payment amounts are accurate and reflective of manufacturer sales prices, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). At least one-third of the more than 200 manufacturers of Part B drugs did not submit ASPs for some of their products in the third quarter of 2012, despite being required to do so, according to the report. Another 45 manufacturers were not required to report ASPs during the same quarter. The OIG also found a small number of inaccuracies in CMS’s ASP files, which may have affected Medicare payments. The OIG recommends that CMS:

1.   Continue to work with the OIG to identify and penalize manufacturers that do not meet ASP reporting requirements;

2.   Seek a legislative change to require all manufacturers of Part B drugs to submit ASPs;

3.   Ensure the accuracy of product information for the national drug codes (NDCs) listed in the background and crosswalk files; and

4.   Finalize the implementation of automated ASP-related procedures by using processes related to average manufacturer price as a model, and subsequently require all manufacturers to submit ASPs through the automated system.

CMS concurred with the first, third, and fourth recommendations, but it did not concur with the second. The report is a follow up to a previous report that recommended CMS seek a legislative change to require all manufacturers of Part B drugs to report ASPs.

AAH asks state associations to back audit bill

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare is asking HME state associations to formally support H.R. 5083, the Medicare DMEPOS Audit Reform and Improvement (AIR) Act, by signing a letter that will be featured on the new website Seven state associations have signed the letter so far. AAHomecare will close the letter July 30. Associations that wish to sign the letter should contact Ashley Jackson,, as soon as possible.

Save My Medical Supplies campaign extended

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare’s consumer communications campaign, Save My Medical Supplies, will continue through the end of 2014, the association has announced. After its April launch, the campaign generated 5,500 letters in 90 days asking Congress to reform Medicare. “One of our core responsibilities as healthcare providers is to educate patients and help them understand they are their own best advocate,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “We’re all in this fight together and engaging the people we serve in the legislative process—along with their families, friends and caregivers—is how we win.” The campaign’s website and Facebook page combine educational content and call-to-action links.

At Home Medical makes push for consumers

ATLANTA – At Home Medical, an online provider of medical supplies, has launched the iPush Foundation, a non-profit program offering resources and peer support though social media and the company’s website. “I’ve been in a wheelchair for nearly 25 years and hope to make the path you roll a little easier,” stated Chris Malcom, who founded the group, in a press release. “That’s why we created the iPush Foundation.” Get Social Consulting created the content and the website, which provides online communities, resources and services for those using wheelchairs.

Brightree heads IT for HME Audit Key

WASHINGTON – Brightree is now the IT lead for AAHomecare’s HME Audit Key, according to an AAHomecare bulletin. “Given Brightree’s expertise in billing and business management solutions for the HME sector and other healthcare industry segments, I’m confident their participation will play a major role in the success of the HME Audit Key,” stated Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president and CEO. The HME Audit Key is a data collection tool to help providers quantify the effects of audits. Brightree has also pledged additional funds to AAHomecare beyond its membership dues, according to the bulletin.

EBS offers A/R Allegiance program

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Electronic Billing Services (EBS) will offer the CollectPlus Program to its clients for private pay billing and collection services, according to a press release from A/R Allegiance. EBS believes the program can help its clients improve private pay recovery and cash flow, as well as provide a consistent follow-up process for billing and collections, according to a press release. “Anything we can do to speed up patient payments to our clients and provide both the patient and our client with an advanced level of customers service is a win-win for everyone,” stated Mary Stoner, president of EBS, in the release. A/R Allegiance has integrated a number of features into EBS’s billing software (Universal Software Solutions) that provide convenient payment options for the patient and greater efficiency in managing patient accounts, according to the release. Paving the way for the new relationship with EBS: A/R Allegiance announced earlier this month that it integrated its payment portal with Universal Software Solutions’ Healthcare Data Management System.

Dynamic Healthcare Software, Instamed partner

PHILADELPHIA – Dynamic Healthcare Software has teamed up with InstaMed to offer integrated healthcare clearinghouse solutions through its bflow 3 cloud-based billing and compliance platform, according to a release. bflow allows providers to streamline patient eligibility verification and claims status inquiries, while batching and processing claims and remittances manually or automatically. “The process to verify eligibility, submit claims and reconcile remittances is very complicated, involving multiple steps, systems and transactions,” stated Eric Williams, president and COO of bflow, in a press release. “This strategic partnership with InstaMed enables us to simplify these processes for our providers by enhancing the bflow system with ‘one click’ integration of InstaMed clearinghouse solutions.” With the integration, electronic payments post automatically to bflow systems, giving users real-time reporting on claims and payment details on InstaMed’s cloud-based network.

Study shows benefit of therapeutic shoes

MILWAUKEE – People with Type 2 diabetes who don’t wear therapeutic shoes have an increased risk of foot ulcers and lower limb amputations, according to a study released this week by Dr. Comfort. When therapeutic shoes were worn, foot ulceration decreased by 2% and 12% in the first and second years, respectively, while lower limb amputation decreased by 29% and 18%. The study involved a review of a retrospective claims database of patients over three years—one year before and two years after therapeutic shoe use began.

OIG: Rhode Island can save on incontinence

WASHINGTON – Rhode Island could have saved $1 million on selected incontinence items in one year by limiting reimbursements to the most frequently reimbursed usual and customary charge amounts, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found. From July 2010 to June 2011, Rhode Island Medicaid paid DME providers $7,725,191, including $3,257,455 for 16 selected incontinence items, including protective underwear, diapers and liners. The OIG recommends Rhode Island Medicaid develop a process to determine whether there are significant differences between the fee schedule payment amounts and the majority of providers’ usual and customary charges, and adjust the fee schedule payment amounts if it finds significant differences. The state agency concurred with the OIG’s conclusions.

CareTouch to hike for hospice

DENVER – CareTouch Communications has formed an employee-driven outreach program called CareTouch in the Community. Employees will provide hands-on support to various causes throughout the year to help people improve their health. First up: Hike for Hospice on Sept. 14. The team will climb the 7,600-foot Olinger Mount Lindo in Morrison, Colo., to raise money for the Butterfly Program of Porter Hospice. “Over the last year we’ve dialed in our company’s mission, which is to be compassionate communicators partnering to improve people’s health,” said Matthew Dolph, CEO of CareTouch, in a press release. CareTouch offers solutions that allow providers to communicate with patients who require resupplies for their sleep and diabetes therapies. Go *here for more information.

Orthotics market poised for growth, innovation

HAMILTON, N.Y. – The global orthotics device market is expected to reach $7.33 billion by 2020, a growth rate of 6.2%, according to a new report from IndustryARC. Prefabricated devices, which comprise a major segment of the market, are expected to reach $4.25 billion by 2020, while custom-made devices are expected to increase to $3.15 billion. Much of the demand can be attributed to the increase in chronic diseases and an aging population, according the report. The report also forecasts increased innovation in the manufacturing of such devices, including 3D printing and CAD/CAM-based models to specifically treat or support patients with specific disorders.

Sigvaris commemorates 150 years

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. – Sigvaris, a family-owned manufacturer of medical and sports compression garments and stockings, celebrated 150 years in business with an event at the Westin in Atlanta. The company held a similar event at the Montreal Science Center in Quebec, Canada, on July 12. Both events included a historical exhibit showcasing the company’s history and performances that took attendees through the process of creating graduated compression products. Sigvaris is a Swiss company with North America headquarters in Peachtree City, Ga.

Short takes: McKesson, Wright & Filippis, wound care

McKesson Medical-Surgicalhas launched a compete line of incontinence resources as part of an increased investment in incontinence care. The line includes clinical, retail and business support, as well as skin care and incontinence products…Wright & Filippis now uses Brightree as its billing and business management platform. “With Brightree, we have a proven, scalable and integrated platform that takes care of our billing, business management and regulatory needs, ultimately freeing up our staff's time to focus on better serving our patients so that we can continue to expand our business," stated A.J. Filippis, owner and CEO, in a press release…The wound care market is projected to reach $20.5 billion globally by 2020, according to a new report by Allied Market Research. Driving growth: reducing hospital stays to limit surgical healthcare costs, and a rising demand for products that enhance therapeutic outcome.

People news: CMS, Nonin Medical

CMS has appointed a provider relations coordinator to improve communication between the agency and providers. Latesha Walker will work to increase program transparency and offer resolutions to providers impacted by audit issues, according to a bulletin from The VGM Group. “Although providers should continue to take questions about specific claims directly to the Recovery Auditor or Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) who conducted the review, providers can raise larger process issues to the coordinator,” the bulletin states…Mark VanderWerf, vice president of eHealth and OEM for Nonin Medical, a manufacturer of finger pulse oximeters and noninvasive medical monitoring solutions, has been elected chairman of the American Telemedicine Association’s Industry Council and has joined its board of directors.