In brief: Medtrade shifts to shorter show, congresswoman circulates support letter

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Friday, May 19, 2017

ATLANTA – Medtrade officials have shortened this year’s show and added a cash incentive to attendees who stick around for the duration.

Show officials will end this year’s Medtrade, slated for Oct. 23–25 at the Georgia World Congress Center, on Wednesday evening instead of Thursday afternoon. Additionally, they will extend exhibit time by an extra hour on days two and three, keeping the show floor open until 5 p.m.

The changes are based on exhibitor feedback and survey data, show officials say.

“We are modifying the show schedule to provide exhibitors with the highest quality exposure to Medtrade attendees, as well as to offer the best experience for attendees—many of whom may be able to save additional money on hotel and expenses,” said Sarah Varner, marketing director, in a press release.

The show will end on Wednesday evening with a networking reception on the show floor, during which attendees will have the chance to win a $5,000 cash prize.

Medtrade got its start in 1979 and grew into the HME industry’s largest event, drawing thousands of attendees from all over the country. Drastic changes in reimbursement and industry consolidation, however, have chipped away at attendance from both providers and exhibitors.

This year’s show has 243 exhibitors already, including several new companies. Fifty-three workshops and educational sessions will take place during the show’s three days.

Early registration for Medtrade starts soon.

Congresswoman releases support letter

WASHINGTON – Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., is circulating a sign-on letter asking HHS Secretary Tom Price to make significant changes to HME policy.

The letter, which is also addressed to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, asks for reform in four key areas: *relief for non-competitive bid areas; reforms to the competitive bid program; relief for CRT accessories; and the restoration of oxygen rates in rural areas.

“CMS has continued to implement further reductions with very little regard to the input from providers and the intent of Congress,” said John Gallagher, VGM’s vice president of government felations. “The reforms outlined in this letter would provide great relief for providers who are struggling to provide care to their patients and must be implemented immediately.”

HME providers have been especially hard hit by a reduction in reimbursement of about 50% since the national roll out of competitive bidding began in non-bid areas in January 2016. That, in turn, has contributed to a 38% decrease in the number of HME providers nationwide, according to CMS’s own data.

A recently announced fee schedule update, required by a provision in the Cures Act to retroactively delay a second round of cuts that went into effect on July 1, 2016, fell short of what Congress intended, say stakeholders. That’s because CMS recalculated the rates based on the lower July 1 rates, rather than the Jan. 1 rates.

AAHomecare, VGM, and other industry stakeholders are asking providers to call their members of Congress and ask them to support the letter.

RAC to perform rare underpayment review

ATLANTA – Performant Recovery, the new national RAC for DME, will perform an underpayment review for Group 3 power wheelchair options. The Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act mandates that adjustments to the 2016 Medicare fee schedule amounts for certain DME that are based on information from the competitive bidding program cannot be applied to wheelchair accessories, including seating systems, and seat and back cushions furnished in connection with codes K0848-K0864. The change was effective Jan. 1, 2016, but CMS was unable to implement changes to its processing systems until July 1, 2016. Payments during that time were based on adjusted fee schedule amounts. “DME suppliers rarely experience RAC underpayments, so this is a welcome change,” said Wayne van Halem, president of The van Halem Group, a division of the VGM Group. “Many folks don’t know this, but the RACs are funded to find underpayments, in addition to overpayments, and in this environment, every little bit helps.”

Legal wrangle: ResMed withdraws complaint, plans to refile

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has filed a motion to dismiss a complaint against Fisher & Paykel so that it can refile using new evidence it has gathered that will it a give stronger case, according to a press release. ResMed first lodged its complaint with the International Trade Commission in August 2016. ResMed claims that the New Zealand based Fisher & Paykel’s masks violated its patented technology. “We’re committed to protecting our innovation, which is why we’ve engaged in global legal proceedings with Fisher & Paykel,” said David Pendarvis ResMed’s global general counsel and chief administrative officer in the release. In January, ResMed settled a long-running patent infringement battle with BMC and 3B Medical.

Urgency grows for complex rehab accessories

WASHINGTON – With July 1 looming, complex rehab technology stakeholders are asking everyone to step up efforts to get lawmakers to sign onto H.R. 1361 and S. 486 to stop Medicare from implementing reimbursement cuts for complex rehab accessories. Last year’s version of the bills drew 147 and 26 co-sponsors respectively, but many of those lawmakers have yet to sign on to this year’s bills, says Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “There are almost 90 members of Congress who signed on as co-sponsors last year but have not yet resigned,” he said. “We need all stakeholders reaching out to Congress now.” Late last year, stakeholders were able to secure a six-month delay in CMS’s plans to apply competitive bidding-related pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs—a delay that expires July 1. Go to www.protectmymobility.org to find links to email or call your members of Congress. For a list of current sponsors, go here.

NSM makes debut in Washington state

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility announced two acquisitions on May 12, including its first in Washington state.

NSM has acquired Dependable Medical Equipment in Seattle, adding four assistive technology professionals (ATPs) and one rehab technology supplier (RTS) to its roster. “National Seating & Mobility is committed to expanding our reach to those in need of mobility and accessibility solutions,” said Bill Mixon, CEO. “We look forward to partnering with the medical and rehabilitation communities in Seattle to provide specialized products and services designed to maximize the mobility and independence of individuals with disabilities.”  NSM has also acquired Columbus Medical Equipment in Columbus, Ohio, adding three ATPs and one RTS to its roster, and increasing its existing service capabilities in the central Ohio area. Additionally, in conjunction with its acquisition of Columbus Medical Equipment, NSM will launch its first AccessNSM home solutions location in Ohio. NSM launched its home solutions company in 2015. Including Ohio, it now offers stair lifts, wheelchair lifts, ramps, door openers and barrier-free showers in nine states.

SoClean recognized for innovation

OXFORD, Mass. – SoClean, the makers of a CPAP sanitizer, was named the winner of the Small Business Association of New England Innovation award. The annual award is given to companies that transform innovative ideas into a product or service that delivers value to customers. “The SoClean team is honored to be the recipient of such a prestigious award,” says Mike Schmidt, president of SoClean, in a release. “We are committed to raising awareness of sleep apnea so sufferers will seek treatment.” 

HOMES meeting wraps up with awards, boards

FALMOUTH, Mass. – Cathy Hamilton of Coastal Med Tech and Sean Andrews of Bedard Medical received the 2017 Outstanding Volunteer Award from HOMES during the association’s annual meeting, held May 8-9. Jason Morin of Home Care Specialists received the Christopher J. Denmark Commitment to Excellence award. HOMES members also voted on a board of directors. Officers are: Chairman, Dana Lesperance, Absolute Respiratory; Vice Chairman, Rich Tobin, Keene Medical Products; Treasurer, Cathy Hamilton, Coastal Med Tech; Secretary, Peter Tallas, Charm Medical Supply; and Immediate Past Chair, Jason Morin, Home Care Specialists.

Online CPAP provider compares travel devices

WEST BERLIN, N.J. – With a number of travel CPAP devices now on the market, Agile Medical, the parent company of www.thecpapshop.com, has developed a specific landing page on the website and posted a comparison guide and videos. Featured on the website are the newly launched ResMed AirMini and Philips DreamStation Go, as well as existing devices in the market from Somnetics (Transcend) and Human Design Medical (Z1). “Consumers feel that they make a better buying choice when price and feature comparisons are transparently available from online shopping carts,” said Chris Vasta, president of www.thecpapshop.com. ResMed and Philips both launched their travel CPAP devices in April.

QS/1 seeks new leadership

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Tammy Devine, president of QS/1, will retire later this year. Devine began her career at the company as a programmer, nearly 35 years ago. She became president in 2011 after holding a series of managerial roles, including executive vice president. QS/1’s parent company, J M Smith, is conducting a national search for Devine’s successor. One of her last acts of leadership: launching QS/1’s latest product, SharpRx, a next generation management system for independent pharmacies.

Meet Emma, your home infusion guide

ORLANDO, Fla. – Repro Med Systems, dba RMS Medical Products, will launch a social media marketing campaign at the National Home Infusion Association Conference and Expo on May 22. RMS will introduce “Emma” as the new face of the company. Emma will be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms connecting with medical professionals and patients, and sharing information about the industry and RMS products. RMS will also add an area called “Ask Emma” to its website so medical professionals and patients can ask questions and receive answers about infusion therapy. RMS manufactures products used for home infusions and suctioning. Its portfolio includes the Freedom60 and FreedomEdge syringe infusion drivers, Precision Flow Rate Tubing and High-Flo Subcutaneous Safety Needle Sets.

Sleep apnea short takes: More testing for truckers, more cases among service members

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a case from a truck driver who claimed his employer violated his rights by requiring him to get tested for sleep apnea opens the door for trucking companies to more widely require the tests, according to Trucks.com. The court’s decision in April follows Robert Parker’s appeal of a lower court decision that Crete Carrier didn’t violate his rights under the American with Disabilities Act when it required him to be tested because he had a body mass index of 35 or higher. While there are currently no federal regulations for tracking or treating sleep apnea in transportation workers, the government has been working on guidelines for more than a year…Sleep apnea cases have increased five-fold in the U.S. military over a decade, according to a recent study in the Journal of Sleep Research. Rates of sleep apnea and insomnia among service members are now about double those seen in the general U.S. population, the journal reports. Medical visits for sleep apnea increased from 44 per 1,000 service members per year in 2005 to 273 per 1,000 per year in 2014, researchers found. Sleep apnea rates were highest among men, African Americans, senior officers, Army personnel and those over the age of 40, they found.