In brief: MED, Pride re-partner; Walgreens infuses

Sunday, August 3, 2008

LUBBOCK, Texas, and EXETER, Pa. - The MED Group announced last week that it has extended its contract with Pride Mobility Products, giving its members continued access to the manufacturer's mobility products and educational and marketing services. "Our members vote with their purchasing dollars every day, and it is evident by their purchasing response that (they) prefer products from Pride Mobility," stated John Burks, senior vice president of the member-service organization. Pride Mobility described the contract as "a significant opportunity" to continue to make mobility products available to a large group of providers, according to the release.

Walgreens-OptionCare announces joint venture
DEERFIELD, Ill. - Walgreens-OptionCare has partnered with Nampa, Idaho-based MedNow, a provider of home infusion, respiratory and DME, the companies announced last week. MedNow serves patients in the Boise, Eagle and Meridian areas, as well as Ontario, Ore. "This partnership will provide benefits to both our patients and the broader medical community," stated Bill Beck, president and chief executive officer of MedNow, in a release. "We can now offer the same high level of expertise and care, but with greatly expanded resources." MedNow also operates retail pharmacies in Idaho. The pharmacies are not included in the joint venture. Walgreens-OptionCare provides home infusion, respiratory and DME in 36 states. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Budget stalemate squeezes California providers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Medi-Cal, the Medicaid program for California, has stopped paying providers because lawmakers haven't been able to hammer out a state budget. "The last check write was July 26," said Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Association of Medical Product Suppliers (CAMPS). "There will be no more money until the budget is adopted." California has been without a budget since July 1, as lawmakers try to close a $17 billion budget hole. In February, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed cutting Medi-Cal provider rates 10% to help bridge that gap. Healthcare providers have been lobbying to get the cut repealed, but a hoped-for injunction against the cut was denied July 29.

MAC issues PMD warning
WASHINGTON - Power mobility device claims are being denied because it hasn't been five years since beneficiaries received similar pieces of equipment, according to a July 28 bulletin issued by Noridian Administrative Services, the DME MAC for Jurisdiction D. Noridian states that its claims processing areas have received "many claims" for PMDs where it has been less than five years since beneficiaries received similar equipment; the claims include no explanations, resulting in denials. The bulletin states: "It is important when billing for a purchase or rental of a DME item when it has been less than five years since the beneficiary received a similar piece of equipment to include the pick up date and the reason for the pick-up of the previous equipment in the claim narrative. Without this information, the current claim will be denied as same and similar due to existing equipment being on file." Go to to view the bulletin.

Xopenex sales decline
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -Sepracor's Xopenex sales declined for the second quarter of 2008, the respiratory medication manufacturer reported July 29. Sales of the COPD drug were $85.4 million compared to $103.5 million for the same period a year ago. The company said the decrease was due, in part, to Medicare's decision last year to pay for the pricier brand-name drug at the same rate as general albuterol. Things were brighter for Sepracor's Brovana, which more than doubled in sales to $13.3 million from $5.5 million a year ago. The long-acting COPD drug was launched in April 2007. The company's overall revenues were up 6.3% to $294.1 million during the second quarter of 2008.

Black market HME bandit faces jail time
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - A man was indicted last week on seven charges of Medicare fraud after he allegedly billed $3.1 million in medical equipment for patients whose names he found on the black market. Pedro Rodriguez, who ran Diversify Medical Equipments, faces up to 20 years for each count. After obtaining a license to sell DME, Rodriguez allegedly bought a list of names and Medicare numbers for patients in the Miami area. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) began investigating Rodriguez after seeing a large number of expensive purchases within a short period of time. Area doctors and patients said they had never heard of Rodriguez or his business, according to investigators.

NRRTS moves
TRINIDAD, Colo. - NRRTS today re-opened in a new location: P.O. Box 863, Trinidad, Colo. Its new phone number: 800-976-7787 or 719-846-4229. Fax: 719-846-4462. The new location "will allow us to continue to serve the needs of our registrants and friends of NRRTS (FONs) in the most appropriate manner," the organization stated in a release. The office was previously located in Littleton, Colo.