In brief: MedPAC recommends CMS shift more products into bid program, AmerisourceBergen buys H.D. Smith

Monday, November 20, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Medicare Payment Advisory Committee made payment policy recommendations for non-competitively bid DMEPOS during a meeting earlier this month, according to Epstein Becker & Green, a healthcare law firm. MedPAC plans to recommend that CMS shift more products away from the “excessive” fee schedule to bid rates. It also plans to call for “immediate reduced payment rates for certain non-CBP products while CMS works on incorporating them into the CBP,” the law firm reports in a post for The National Review. Alternatively, MedPAC plans to recommend a policy option that would have CMS consider capping balance billing at a percentage of the fee schedule rate and reduce the allowed amount by 5% for non-participating providers, the law firm reported.

AmerisourceBergen buys H.D. Smith

VALLEY FORGE, Pa., and SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – AmerisourceBergen will purchase H.D. Smith for $815 million in cash, the two companies have announced.

H.D. Smith is among the largest wholesalers in the country, providing a full line of brand name, generic and specialty drugs from 10 distribution centers across the U.S.

“The acquisition of H. D. Smith strengthens our core business and expands and enhances our strategic scale in U.S. pharmaceutical distribution,” said Steven Collis, chairman, president and CEO of AmerisourceBergen, a provider of pharmaceutical products that generates more than $150 billion in annual revenues.

H. D. Smith subsidiaries Triplefin, a pharmaceutical brand support provider, and Arete Pharmacy Network, a pharmacy services administrative organization, are not part of the acquisition.

AmerisourceBergen plans to fund the acquisition through the issuance of new long-term debt.

The acquisition is expected to be slightly accretive to AmerisourceBergen’s adjusted diluted earnings per share in fiscal year 2018, and be about $0.15 accretive to adjusted EPS in fiscal year 2021.

For fiscal year 2018, AmerisourceBergen now expects revenue growth to be in the range of 8% to 11%, adjusted operating income growth to be in the range of 4% to 7%, and operating growth income for its Pharmaceutical Distribution Services segment to be in the range of 4% to 7%.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory review and other closing conditions, and is expected to close in early calendar 2018.

Part B premiums, deductibles remain stable for 2018

WASHINGTON – The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $134 for 2018, the same as 2017, CMS has announced.

Some beneficiaries who were protected from Part B premium increases in prior years will have increases in 2018, but they will be offset by the increases in their Social Security benefits next year, CMS says.

“Medicare’s top priority is to ensure that beneficiaries have choices for affordable, high-quality care that fit their needs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Next year, no beneficiary protected by the hold-harmless provision will see a Part B premium increase that is greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits. We encourage Medicare beneficiaries to explore their options to make an informed choice between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage before Open Enrollment ends on Dec. 7.”

The average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage enrollees will drop to about $30 in 2018, about a 6% decrease compared to 2017, CMS estimates. More than 77% of Medicare Advantage enrollees remaining on their current plans will have the same or lower premiums for 2018, the agency says.

The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries will be $183 in 2018, the same as 2017.

Providers meet with Verma

MODESTO, Calif. – Representatives of Home Oxygen Company attended a Nov. 20 meeting with Rep. Jeff Dunham, R-Calif., and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to discuss the challenges of rural providers in California. “Administrator Verma was very attentive to our needs and knowledgeable of our challenges,” said Andrea Ewert, president and CEO of Home Oxygen Company. “Our representatives were able to articulate the challenges of running a business and serving Medicare beneficiaries in this financially compressed market.” Denham is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4229, which seeks to extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019. The bill currently has 71 co-sponsors.

Aeroflow partners with Stratice to digitize orders

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Breastpumps & Urology has partnered with Stratice Healthcare to use eOrdersPlus to digitize orders for medical equipment. eOrdersPlus, developed and operated by Stratice Healthcare, allows Aeroflow to capture documentation, physician signatures and other order-related information using a cloud-based solution. “We are always looking for additional avenues that ease the process for our partners and provide higher quality patient care," said Amanda Baethke, strategic partnerships manager at Aeroflow Healthcare. "Their system links to all the major EHR platforms in our area, and provides an easy way for physicians to prescribe to us directly.”eOrdersPlus eliminates multiple phone calls, duplicate faxes and time-consuming data entry, creating a better experience from start to finish, Aeroflow says.

ResMed study results published in CHEST

SAN DIEGO – Patient engagement apps significantly improve adherence to CPAP therapy, according to a ResMed study now published in CHEST. Patients whose nightly use was remotely and self-monitored via ResMed’s Airview and myAir platforms were more than 87% adherent on therapy, compared to 70% of those only remotely monitored, according to the study. “CHEST’s publication is a significant call for clinicians to recommend self-monitoring tools for PAP patients,” said Carlos Nunez, M.D., ResMed’s chief medical officer. “I also believe these tools could help patients on therapies beyond sleep as well, since half of all patients don’t take their medications as prescribed.” ResMed has billed the study, first presented at the CHEST 2016 conference in Los Angeles, as the world’s largest to look at sleep apnea and self-monitoring, with 128,000 patients participating.

Toyota challenge to benefit people with lower-limb paralysis

LOS ANGELES – The Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, has launched a $4 million global challenge to change the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis, culminating with the unveiling of winners in Tokyo in 2020. The challenge seeks teams around the world to create game-changing technology that will help radically improve the mobility and independence of paralyzed people. Technology could include anything from exoskeletons, to artificial intelligence and machine learning, to cloud computing. A panel of expert judges will pick five finalists who will each receive $500,000 to take their concepts from an intelligent insight to a prototype. The winner will receive $1 million to help get their product to market. Among the ambassadors supporting the challenge is Rory Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh.

NSM names new CIO

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has named Mark Marschke its new CIO. The national complex rehab provider recruited Marschke from a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. He will oversee NSM’s technology strategies and solutions. Most recently, Marschke was CIO of Atlanta-based Larson-Juhl, which designs and makes picture frames. During his time at Larson-Juhl, he was a member of the Berkshire-Hathaway CIO Council.

PHM seeks to finalize restructuring

LAFAYETTE, La. – Patient Home Monitoring on Dec. 15 will ask security holders to vote on splitting the company in two. PHM will become a DME company specializing in delivering and servicing oxygen therapy, sleep apnea treatment and mobility equipment; and Viemed will become a respiratory company specializing in non-invasive vents for patients with COPD, CHF and neuromuscular conditions. PHM announced plans to split into two different companies last year. PHM’s board of directors has unanimously approved the arrangement and recommends that security holders also vote in favor of it. Shares of PHM will continue to be listed for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange under PHM, and shares of Viemed will be listed under VMD.

BraunAbility names new leader

WINAMAC, Ind. – The board of directors of BraunAbility, a manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and lifts, has selected Staci Kroon as the company’s new president and CEO effective Nov. 27. She will also serve as the board’s director. The announcement follows the retirement of Nick Gutwein, who has led BraunAbility since 2008. Kroon comes to BraunAbility from Eaton Corp., a $20 billion global technology leader in power management solutions, where she was most recently executive vice president of Eaton Business Systems. Previously, she was president of Eaton’s automotive business in North America. Gutwein, who has elected to pursue his work in the ministry full time, will remain a member of BraunAbility’s board of directors.

RESNA updates position paper on pediatrics

ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA has published an updated position paper on the application of power mobility devices for pediatric users. The goal of the paper is to share typical clinical applications, as well as provide evidence from literature, supporting the application of power mobility for young children and to assist practitioners in decision-making and justification. The paper, approved by RESNA’s board of directors on Nov. 2, has now been updated with more current and additional scientific literature. The paper, which was worked on by a working group of three or more experts and underwent a 30-day public comment period, is valid for five years.