In brief: Lawmakers push for additional bid relief, Gillispie named Homecare Champion

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Friday, September 21, 2018

WASHINGTON – HME industry champion Cathy McMorris Rodgers has released a congressional sign-on letter to CMS, HHS and OMB asking for additional relief for HME as part of the proposed rule currently under consideration, according to AAHomecare.

Rep. Rodgers, R-Wash., encourages stakeholders to ask their members in the House of Representatives to sign on to the letter before it closes on Friday, Sept. 28.

The letter expresses support for CMS’s plans to suspend competitive bidding while it makes changes to the program, and extend relief for rural and non-contiguous areas through 2020.

The letter also advocates, however, for additional improvements to the proposed rule, including:

• Increasing reimbursement rates in competitive bidding areas until the next bid round is implemented: “Since CMS has recognized these SPAs are deficient due to the bid program’s median price methodology, we are concerned that these rates are inadequate, particularly when there no longer remains the increased market share that was the balancing rationale for the lower bid prices in the first place,” the letter states.

• Extending relief to all non-competitive bidding areas by implementing the 50/50 blended rates to all those areas until the end of 2020.

• Improving access to liquid oxygen by considering a more comprehensive effort to modernize Medicare oxygen policies, including those for liquid oxygen.

Other original co-signers to the letter include Reps. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

NHIA keeps pressure on CMS

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders met with CMS officials on Sept. 17 to discuss their concerns with home infusion provisions included in a recent proposed rule.

Board members of the National Home Infusion Association and others met with Demitrios Kouzoukas, principal deputy administrator of CMS and director of the Center for Medicare, to highlight the potential negative impact of the provisions on providers and patients, according to a bulletin from NHIA.

In particular, they urged CMS to strike a provision that would require that a nurse be present in the home the day an infusion drug is administered. They also urged the agency to adopt an expanded definition of home infusion professional services.

Kouzokas was familiar with the issues, but he expressed concerns about the budget implications of daily reimbursement, according to the NHIA.

Congressional champions are circulating sign-on letters in the House of Representatives and the Senate that ask CMS to modify the provision to allow payment for each calendar day that home infusion occurs and to adopt a more comprehensive definition of professional services.

The NHIA is asking its members to contact their members of Congress and ask them to sign on to the letters.

Regina Gillispie named this year’s Champion

WASHINGTON – Regina Gillispie, president and owner of Best Home Medical in West Virginia, has been named the 2018 Van Miller Homecare Champion, AAHomecare announced on Wednesday. She will be honored at the Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade in Atlanta on Oct. 16. The award recognizes and honors AAHomecare members for outstanding service to the HME community. Gillispie has built strong relationships and earned a great deal of credibility for the HME sector on Capitol Hill, AAHomecare says. In July, she spearheaded efforts to get all five members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation to send a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma asking her to address their concerns about the impact of the competitive bidding program in rural areas. Gillispie has also been at the forefront of state policy issues and has helped to convince the state’s Medicaid program to mandate that managed care organizations honor the timeframe of current authorizations for patients under previous MCO plans and to secure a 24-month timeframe for recoupments for MCO plans. Gillispie opened Best Home Medical in 2005 and has since expanded to two locations serving patients in Charleston and Huntington, and surrounding areas.

Proposed rule lifts unnecessary regulations, CMS says

WASHINGTON – CMS released a proposed rule yesterday aimed at removing unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome Medicare compliance requirements.

Collectively, the provisions in the rule would save healthcare providers an estimated $1.12 billion annually, the agency says.

“We are committed to putting patients over paperwork, while at the same time increasing the quality of care and ensuring patient safety and bolstering program integrity,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “With this proposed rule, CMS takes a major step forward in its efforts to modernize the Medicare program by removing regulations that are outdated and burdensome. The changes we’re proposing will dramatically reduce the amount of time and resources that healthcare facilities have to spend on CMS-mandated compliance activities that do not improve the quality of care, so that hospitals and healthcare professionals can focus on their primary mission: treating patients.”

Many of the provisions in the rule would simplify and streamline Medicare’s conditions of participation, conditions for coverage and other requirements, CMS says.

One key provision: eliminate a duplicative requirement on transplant programs to submit data and other information more than once for “re-approval” by Medicare, the agency says.

The proposed rule is part of CMS’s response to President Trump’s charge to federal agencies to “cut the red tape” and reduce burdensome regulations.

NCART: Share new data with lawmakers

WASHINGTON – Complex rehab stakeholders have another data point to support their efforts to stop CMS from applying competitive bidding pricing to components of complex rehab manual wheelchairs. The Clinician Task Force surveyed clinicians from across the county and collected patient-specific issues related to the ongoing cuts to complex rehab, and shared them in a recent letter to Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn. “With the recent reduction in payment for CRT manual wheelchair components (accessories) related to competitive bidding pricing, there are particular technologies that are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain unless clients or their families can buy them,” the task force states. The task force’s survey and letter follow an NCART survey that showed 65% of complex rehab providers say the cuts have reduced their ability to provide accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs. NCART encourages stakeholders to share the two surveys with lawmakers to increase support for H.R. 3730 and S. 486, which would stop the cuts.

WHILL secures funding

SAN CARLOS, Calif. – WHILL, which launched the Model Ci in the U.S. in January, has secured $45 million in funding led by investors SBI Investment Co., Daiwa PI Partners Co. and Daiwa Corporate Investment Co., and WHIZ Partners, as well as Endeavor Catalyst and others. This funding brings WHILL’s total funding to about $80 million. WHILL, expanded sales into the U.K. and Italy in July, following its expansion into Canada earlier this year, will use the funding to further broaden its geographic footprint across other European countries. It will also use the funding to significantly expand its consumer products offerings, and develop and expand its mobility as a service business. The company’s MaaS business focuses on “efficiently and safely moving people through large and crowded venues like airports, sports venues, shopping centers and public sidewalks,” it says.

Flexpoint Ford invests in MobilityWorks

RICHFIELD, Ohio – Flexpoint Ford, a Chicago-based private equity firm focused on the healthcare and financial services industries, has made a “significant equity investment” in MobilityWorks, a provider of wheelchair accessible vehicles, it was announced today. The new partnership will boost the provider’s expansion strategy and vision of “Accessibility for All,” according to a press release. "We are thrilled to be teaming up with Flexpoint Ford,” said Bill Koeblitz, founder and CEO. “We chose them as our institutional investment partner because of their proven track record of collaborating with founders in the healthcare and financial services sectors to accelerate growth.” MobilityWorks will continue to operate as an independent company led by its current leadership team, which will retain an ownership stake. Founded in 1997, MobilityWorks has more than 70 locations in 24 states and employs more than 1,200.

AOPA names new executive director

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association has named Eve Humphreys as executive director effective Nov. 19. Humphreys, currently the executive director for the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, has more than two decades of experience navigating legislative and regulatory advocacy, working with volunteer and society leaders to create policy and position statements, practice guidelines, and continuing medical education content to advance organizations and industries, according to a press release. “It is an exciting time in the orthotic and prosthetic field,” Humphreys said in the release. “AOPA is well positioned to continue on its trajectory of success by expanding its influence and leadership in all areas.” Humphreys is taking over for Tom Fise, who announced in April he was stepping down after nearly 12 years at the association.

AAHomecare issues white paper on sole source contracting

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare’s Medical Supplies Council has published a white paper on the impact of sole source contracting. The paper, “How Sole Source & Narrow Network Contract Arrangements Lessen Patient Choice and Reduce Access,” details problems that arise when managed care organizations use sole source contracting, including limiting product choice, reducing personalized patient services and potentially disrupting continuity of care. The white paper is intended for use in working with MCOs, Medicaid officials and other stakeholders to ensure a robust network of providers.

ACHC offers discounts to MNCHA members

CARY, N.C. – The Accreditation Commission for Health Care has partnered with the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association to offer MNCHA members special pricing on its home health, hospice and private duty accreditation services, as well as discounts on educational resources, according to a press release. “ACHC is very excited to partner with such a great organization that cares so much about bringing education and value to their members,” said Matt Hughes, director, Business Management & Customer Service, at ACHC. “We look forward to working with MNCHA to provide resources for their members to navigate the ever-changing dynamics of the home care market.”

Bridge Connector, PointClickCare partner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bridge Connector has formed a strategic partnership with PointClickCare Technologies, a cloud-based software vendor for the long-term and post-acute care markets. As part of the partnership, Bridge Connector will play a large part in PointClickCare’s new developer program, offering its developers a streamlined, integrated process to build on the PointClickCare platform and leverage third-party integrated solutions. Bridge Connector and PointClickCare, both Salesforce Independent Software Vendor partners, are also using the partnership to focus on accelerating customer relationship management integration for PointClickCare customers. Additionally, the partnership allows PointClickCare customers to select from numerous Bridge Connector-powered, turnkey, integration options soon to be offered on PointClickCare’s new developer app marketplace.

CareCredit pays off for Pride

EXETER, Pa. – Pride Mobility Products has seen an increase in provider retail sales thanks to CareCredit. “We’re at a place in the evolution of our industry where retail sales of power lift recliners, scooters and power chairs are key to providers’ success,” said Micah Swick, director of Pride Sales. “The purchasing power that CareCredit offers consumers, along with giving providers an added sales tool, creates an ease of transaction where everyone wins.” CareCredit is a health, beauty, wellness and personal care credit card accepted through a national network of more than 200,000 provider and retail locations. Pride’s in-house support services for providers that are part of the CareCredit network include assistance with the enrollment process, co-branded marketing materials, joint educational webinars and tailored one-on-one training.

OSA affects more Europeans than previously thought, ResMed says

PARIS – Approximately 175 million Europeans have obstructive sleep apnea, including 90 million with moderate to severe OSA, according to an abstract presented by ResMed at the European Respiratory Society’s annual ERS Congress. Russia had the highest prevalence of OSA at 40 million. “This data is a warning call to Europe’s doctors and other care providers to properly identify, screen and diagnose these people so they can get the life-changing treatment they need,” said Dr. Adam Benjafield, lead researcher and ResMed’s vice president of Medical Affairs. Other European countries with high rates: Germany, 26 million; France, 24 million; Ukraine, 13 million; Spain, 9 million; and United Kingdom, 8 million.

Permobil Foundation hosts charity event

LEBANON, Tenn. – The Permobil Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Permobil, will host its annual charity open golf tournament on Sept. 20 at the Hermitage Golf Course in Old Hickory, Tenn. The event, which is sold out, raises money toward the foundation’s mission of partnering with nonprofit organizations to help individuals with disabilities live a life without limitations and assisting with insurance denials for DME. So far, the foundation, which celebrated its one-year anniversary this past March, has supported 194 nonprofits and assisted 268 individuals get a wheelchair or accessory that provides them with independence. Sponsors of this year’s event include U.S. Rehab, National Seating & Mobility and Numotion. The event comprised not only golf but also breakfast and lunch, a putting contest, and pictures with the Titans cheerleaders.

Short takes: VirtuOx, Huggenberger

VirtuOx and Brightree have completed an integration that enables HME providers to streamline workflows to use both solutions. Providers can now route orders for VirtuOx’s home diagnostic testing services directly through Brightree…Former Inogen CEO Ray Huggenberger has joined the board of directors at Ebb Therapeutics, a startup that develops products for insomnia sufferers. Huggenberger, who will remain on Inogen’s board, also serves on several other boards, including those of Somnetrics and Tactile Medical.