In brief: Lawmakers call for investigation, Allstate sues DME entities
WASHINGTON – In a June 21 letter to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, call on the agency to investigate the possibility that CMS deliberately overlooked its own rules when awarding contracts for competitive bidding, according to a press release. The OIG is charged with identifying and combating waste, fraud and abuse in more than 300 programs, including Medicare. “We have asked the Inspector General to look into the shortfalls, but also to investigate the possibility that officials at Medicare intentionally ignored their own rules when problems began to arise,” Thompson stated. CMS plans to move forward with the program despite violating its own guidelines by awarding contracts to providers who are unlicensed in certain states. The agency recently disqualified 30 contract suppliers who did not meet certain licensure requirements in Tennessee. Thompson and Braley say the disqualifications raise serious questions as to how CMS determined the demand in a given competitive bidding area and the capacity of suppliers to adequately service that area. “If CMS believes 68 suppliers are adequate for the state of Tennessee, why were 98 suppliers awarded contracts?” the letter states. Additionally, Thompson and Braley point out that the methods CMS used to calculate the payment amounts took into account the bids of now disqualified suppliers. “Not only should the bids be removed, but it remains unclear to us how CMS can move forward with additional contracts because they do not have accurate pricing,” the letter states.
Allstate Insurance sues slew of DME entities
HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – Allstate Insurance seeks to recover $6.6 million in damages for alleged medical insurance fraud from 47 New York- and Florida-based DME entities and owners, according to a press release. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that the DME companies, including 31 retail and 16 DME wholesale companies, submitted or facilitated the submission of fraudulent and misleading bills to Allstate Insurance for reimbursement, the release noted. Allison McMahon, an Allstate spokeswoman, believes the alleged violations in New York are the result of DME companies exploiting the state’s no-fault insurance law, which provides insured parties indemnification for losses regardless of fault in the incident. “We need to work together this legislative session to fix the broken no-fault system,” she stated.
Beth Bowen to lead FAHCS
CARY, N.C. – The Florida Alliance of Home Care Services (FAHCS) has signed on with TayCar, an association management resources group headed up by Beth Bowen. TayCar already manages the North Carolina and Virginia state HME associations. TayCar provides education planning, advocacy and regulatory work, networking advancement, member services, communications and public relations, and day-to-day operational management services. “We have had thought-provoking discussions with new ideas that have already led to a renewed excitement within the leadership,” stated Bowen, president of TayCar, in a release.
Sleep960 turns to telehealth to increase adherence
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Signature Sleep Services (dba Sleep960), in conjunction with CPAPCoach.com, has initiated a telehealth service solution for patients experiencing difficulties adapting to and living with sleep apnea. The program, “Adherence by Alliance,” is a three-part series of encounters using evidence-based practice, namely motivational interviewing, to overcome barriers and provide a patient-centered approach to care. CPAPCoach was founded by Robyn Woidtke, MSN, RN, RPSGT. “These types of coaching techniques can fill a gap in promoting CPAP adherence and good sleep habits,” she stated in a release. Through a HIPPA compliant website, clients select the best time and day for one-on-one and group live coaching sessions. The sessions are typically conducted using a live video chat.
101 Mobility hits Florida
TAMPA – Dennis Clouser has opened Florida’s first 101 Mobility franchise. 101 Mobility Tampa will provide families and businesses from Clearwater, Largo, St. Pete, Tampa and outlying areas with professionally installed stair lifts, wheelchair ramps, patient lifts, wheelchair lifts, auto lifts, pool lifts and more. 101 Mobility in May entered into an equity partnership with the Cortec Group, a New York-based private equity firm, a move that the company says will allow it to grow to its full potential.
Permobil revamps website
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Permobil has re-launched its website, the company said in recent press release. The new site, www.permobil.com, is user-friendly, with scrolling navigation and easy-to-read information about Permobil’s products, accessories and educational programs. “We want our customers to explore the site, maybe even come up with new powered mobility solutions to their needs that they might not have known about previously,” stated Barry Steelman, North American marketing manager, in the release.
Respironics recalls V60 vents
CARLSBAD, Calif. – Respironics California, a Philips Healthcare business, has announced that its worldwide recall of about 19,200 V60 ventilators has been designated a Class I recall by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On June 4, Respironics initiated a voluntary recall to correct a software issue that may cause the vents to shut down. On June 17, following a review, the FDA notified Respironics of the Class I designation, meaning “there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.” Respironics discovered the issue through routine product monitoring. Respironics has corrected the software and will make updates on all V60 vents shipped prior to April 1, 2013. FMI: 800-722-9377.
Breathe, LLC launches mobile oximetry app
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Breathe, LLC, a provider of overnight oxygen supplies and oximetry testing, has launched a mobile oximetry application, according to a press release. The patent-pending application, currently available on the iPhone, with forthcoming plans for an Android-compatible version, allows providers to view oximetry reports, fax reports to physicians, and view patient status and prescriptions. Through the app, providers can also sign patient forms directly on the phone, view patient archives and track physician referrals.
Pos-T-Vac lays off 30
DODGE CITY, Kan. – Pos-T-Vac Medical, a provider that specializes in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, has laid off about 30 employees in Martinez, Ga., according to news reports. The company says the lay offs are necessary because insurance companies have started to limit reimbursement for vacuum therapy devices. Pos-T-Vac has also laid off 35 workers in its insurance processing department at its corporate headquarters here. The Martinez location operated as Stamen Medical Systems until October 2010, when it was acquired by Pos-T-Vac. It was then labeled under the umbrella name, UroMatrix Medical Systems.
Vendor short takes
Rifton won gold at the Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) June 19 in Philadelphia for its TRAM transfer and mobility device. The TRAM, a multi-functional device capable of lifting, transferring and providingsupported ambulation to patients of varying abilities and body types, was recognized in the rehabilitation and assistive technology products category…Advanced Diagnostic Solutions, a Port Richey, Fla.-based Medicare IDTF, has enhanced its oximetry web portal to allow HME providers to track, manage and view home sleep test reports from any computer with an Internet connection. The new portal will allow the company’s panel of certified sleep physicians, HME providers and ordering physicians to access and maintain the testing process from start to finish in as little as five days, according to a press release…Stage 5 Innovations, maker of the SnoreWedge Personal Sleep Barrier has signed on Med Pro Rep in California as its manufacturer’s representative for the OSA market in the U.S. Joseph Abevta, president of Med Pro Rep, has more than 20 years of experience in the market, according to a press release…Ottobock has partnered with PatientTech/Vista Medical to be the exclusive distributor of its BodiTrak Smart Fabric pressure mapping system. The system uses electronic sensors with built-in USB electronics and a three-dimensional, stretchable, breathable pressure sensing material…CheapCPAPSupplies.com has launched a new website. Improvements include revised navigation, home page search by manufacturer and insurance information.
Miller’s has promoted Johnny P. Miller to president. He represents the third generation of the Miller family to take the helm of the company. His father, John J. Miller, served as president for 30 years, succeeding his father, John F. Miller, who founded the company in 1949…National Seating & Mobility has added Lois Brown, MTP, ATP/SMS, to its clinical department. Previously, Lois was a rehab clinical education manager for a major manufacturer.