In brief: Lawmakers try to put brakes on bid expansion, contractors warn docs of DME scams

Friday, March 21, 2014

WASHINGTON – Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, are spearheading a congressional sign-on letter urging CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner not to expand competitive bidding until the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed its investigation into the program, according to AAHomecare. “It’s no secret that policymakers on both sides of the aisle see the controversial national bidding program as an unacceptable burden on the elderly and disabled,” stated Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the association, in a release. “AAHomecare thanks Reps. Thompson and Braley for urging CMS to work with Congress in a way that will best serve Medicare beneficiaries.” The VGM Group also applauded Thompson and Braley. It says it has heard from more than 3,000 Medicare beneficiaries and more than 400 providers about delays, increased costs and the difficulty receiving/providing supplies under the program. “The evidence is there that this program doesn’t work, and we’re grateful to the congressmen for their action,” stated John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM.

Contractors warn docs of DME scams

WASHINGTON – The DME MAC medical directors say they are fielding frequent complaints from doctors who are the targets of DME marketing schemes. The medical directors reminded physicians in a recent letter that they can report suspected abuse to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). “Most of these scams are obvious in their wording or their attempts to get you to approve unnecessary medical equipment and supplies,” the letter states. Common scams, according to the letter: unsolicited orders for medical equipment or supplies, often claiming a patient asked the supplier to contact the doctor; advertisements saying Medicare will pay physicians for patient referrals; and pre-completed medical necessity forms with instructions to sign and date. The medical directors have asked doctors to pay careful attention to orders asking for their signatures. They recommend that doctors be skeptical of unsolicited orders for patients no longer in their practices and document medical justification for any DME item ordered for a patient.

OIG spotlights diabetes test strips

WASHINGTON – The Office of Inspector General (OIG) says in a March 18 report that state Medicaid programs could save millions on diabetes test strips. The OIG conducted audits in five states—Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Ohio—to see whether competitive bidding or manufacturer rebates could lower costs for the test strips. The OIG found that two of the five states had saved $17.9 million through the use of rebates; and four of the five states could have saved an additional $29.7 million through rebates or competitive bidding. The OIG also identified $8.3 million in additional savings in four of the five states if pricing from Medicare’s national mail-order program had been used. The OIG recommends, and CMS concurs, that the agency should work with state Medicaid agencies to determine whether manufacturer rebates and lower reimbursement rates could achieve savings. In a separate report, the OIG reviewed claims for diabetes testing supplies without the KL modifier from three suppliers for calendar years 2010 and 2011. All three suppliers used company-owned vehicles to deliver supplies to beneficiaries, which the OIG says did not meet CMS’s then-definition of a mail-order supplier. The OIG says Medicare would have paid approximately $4.7 million vs. $8.2 million for the supplies if the definition for mail order included deliveries with company-owned vehicles.

Ottobock relocates distribution operations

MINNEAPOLIS – Ottobock announced March 17 that it is relocating its North America logistics and distribution operations from Minneapolis and Toronto to Louisville, Ky. “The move to Louisville is part of an expanded investment by Ottobock in the U.S. and North America that includes the goal to triple business,” the company states in a release. Ottobock notes that Louisville is a strategic shipping hub. The move is already underway, “with limited receiving, stocking and shipping of mobility products and the warehouse being readied for additional inventory,” according to the release. Additionally, Ottobock has started to hire in the area and plans to fill an estimated 20 new jobs by October. The company expects to spend $3.375 million as part of its relocation and growth efforts. Ottobock previously announced that it’s also relocating its North America headquarters from Minneapolis to Austin, Texas.

Therapy Support grows regional footprint

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Therapy Support has picked up all of the equipment and facilities of Town & Country Medical, an Overland Park, Kan.-based DME provider, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. “We’re excited to be in the Kansas City area,” Phaedra Craig, Therapy Support marketing director, told the newspaper. “We’ve actually been in the area since May of 2011, but we saw a great opportunity to grow with the acquisition of Town & Country.” Therapy Support provides specialty medical products for acute care, extended care, home care and hospice. The company’s products range from wound care to bariatric to patient safety equipment. It serves more than 10,000 patients in seven states, according to the newspaper.

Drive Medical taps new logistics provider

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive Medical has contracted with Pittsburgh-based Genco to provide transportation-related services, including routing, load optimization and planning, carrier contracting and management, and parcel audit and mediation, it was announced March 18. “Genco’s transportation and logistics capabilities will provide Drive Medical with the enhanced transportation and logistics infrastructure to help manage the company’s rapid growth,” said Allen Clem, executive vice president of global operations and logistics at Drive Medical, in a release.

Sleep association sets new course

WASHINGTON – Ed Grandi has stepped down as executive director at the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA). The association has named Tracy Nasca as his replacement, according to a March 17 press release. Nasca, who has sleep apnea, has worked in the sleep field since 1999, and has served on the board for the past two years. ASAA also appointed Adam Amdur COO. Amdur is the former chairman of the association. Grandi, who served 10 years at ASAA, said in a blog post he plans to continue promoting sleep health.

Medline signs on another healthcare provider

MUNDELEIN, Ill. – Medline Industries has been selected by ProHealth Care, a provider of community health services in Waukesha County, Wis., as its exclusive distribution partner for medical and surgical supplies. The five-year deal is expected to be worth about $50 million. Medline says it will deliver an array of efficiencies and cost savings to help ProHealth Care better monitor and control costs. Earlier this year, Medline was tapped by Centegra Health System as its preferred distributor for medical and surgical supplies. That three-year deal is expected to be worth $30 million.

Market for sleep disorder diagnostic devices to get hotter

SAN ANTONIO – The market for sleep disorder diagnostic devices generated revenues of $95.6 million in 2013 and could generate $125.8 million in 2017, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. Driving that growth: a large pool of undiagnosed patients and a growing population of elderly people. Also driving growth is a trend toward home care sleep tests that are more convenient and lack side effects. “Vendors that offer self-help devices have the potential to erode the share of sleep centers that offer sleep tests, as self-help technology can decrease the number of visits to physicians and overnight stays in clinics,” stated Akanksha Joshi, a healthcare research analyst, in the report. “Overall, a manufacturer that offers accurate data through real-time device connectivity involving the insurer and physicians, as well as a precise predictive model for better patient outcomes, will elicit greater interest in its product line.”

U-Sleep, Universal Software integrate

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – HME providers can now access Umbian’s U-Sleep compliance monitoring solution directly from Universal Software Solutions’ Healthcare Data Management System (HDMS) billing management platform. The end result: a more efficient mechanism for merging practice management and billing-related activities with patient usage compliance, according to a release. Key features of the integration include the ability to: add a patient simultaneously in HDMS, U-Sleep and ResMed’s EasyCare Online compliance platform; receive U-Sleep patient compliance notifications and automatically merge that data into HDMS; generate and store U-Sleep compliance and CPAP usage reports; and trigger the creation of operator tests within HDMS based on U-Sleep compliance rules.

SCA adds sailor to team

PHILADELPHIA – SCA, maker of Tena incontinence products, has added American sailor Sara Hastreiter to Team SCA, the only all-female crew to compete in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Hastreiter has sailed more than 40,000 nautical miles and competed in numerous races. Team SCA has been trialing candidates and, with only seven months left until the start of the race in October, has honed the final crew to 12. The team is based in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, and is due to complete two practice transatlantic sails in May, which will include a stop in Newport, R.I. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Sara join the team and represent SCA and our brands in the U.S., Tena and Tork,” stated Don Lewis, president of SCA, in a release.