In brief: Meek support grows, Mixon suffers stroke, AHP for sale

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WASHINGTON - On Friday, the number of co-sponsors for H.R. 3790, the bill to repeal national competitive bidding, had climbed to 227. Industry stakeholders are still awaiting a CBO score and seeking a sponsor for a Senate companion bill. To that end, the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers is trying to put a bug in the ear of health legislative aids in senate offices, said president and CEO Wayne Stanfield. The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness has posted hundreds of phone call from beneficiaries concerned with competitive bidding to its Web site,, he said. "We want to get the health LAs to listen to these phone calls," he said. "If they listen to the constituents from their states--the actual voices of patients struggling to breathe voice their concerns--they might then (pass it on). If I was a senator, it would make me think twice."

Invacare CEO Mal Mixon suffers stroke

ELYRIA, Ohio - Invacare CEO and Chairman Mal Mixon recently suffered a mild stroke and will take a temporary medical leave of absence, the company reported Friday, April 30. "Fortunately, my condition is stable and my doctors have told me the prognosis for a full recovery is favorable," Mixon stated in a release. "I look forward to returning to Invacare soon to full duty." Gerry Blouch, president and COO, will serve as interim CEO. James C. Boland, Invacare's lead director and a member of the board since 1998, will be interim chairman of the Board of Directors. On behalf of the board, Boland commented, "In the interests of allowing Mal to focus on a speedy recovery, we are implementing a succession plan that we have had in place for some time. Gerry has the entire board's complete support and has full authority to act as CEO during this time. We have every confidence that Invacare's outstanding tenured management team will continue operations seamlessly."

Shareholder maneuvers to buy AHP

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - In what what's likely a last-ditch effort to avoid bankruptcy, American HomePatient agreed last week be acquired by its largest shareholder, Highland Capital Management, the company announced Friday. The deal must be approved by AHP shareholders. If it is, Highland, which owns 48% of the company, would pay 67 cents a share to buy out other stockholders, and then take AHP private. Since Aug. 2009, AHP has been in default on a loan of approximately $226 million to NexBank SSB, a Highland affiliate. Since then, the company has operated under a series of short-term extensions where lenders voluntarily agreed to take no actions against the company. The deal would restructure the company's debt, and if not approved, "American HomePatient may make a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing," the company stated in the release. Stockholders are expected to vote on the plan at the company's annual meeting June 21.

AAH supports Ms. Wheelchair

ARLINGTON, Va. - AAHomecare has made a contribution to the Ms. Wheelchair America program, it announced in April. The association had Ms. Wheelchair America participants from various states speak at its recent legislative conference. "Presentations by these participants have been inspiring and have helped provide perspective about why it is so important to preserve a strong home medical equipment and service infrastructure in the U.S.," AAHomecare stated in a bulletin.

Brightree sets the pace

ATLANTA - HME software vendor Brightree was the 24th fastest growing private company in Atlanta last year, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, which announced its Pacesetter award winners last month. It's a big leap forward for Brightree, which was recognized as the 45th fast growing private company in 2008, up from 50th in 2007. Over the past three years, Brightree achieved revenue growth of nearly 70% and employee growth of about 46%, the company stated in a release.

HME manager arrested for four-year scam

NEWARK, N.J. - Special agents with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in April arrested Roland Asemota, the manager of Rose's Medical Supply in East Orange, N.J., and charged him with fraudulently billing tens of thousands of dollars worth of power mobility devices. They made the move after an on-site audit of Rose's billing from January 2006 through April 2009 revealed that 95% of its power wheelchair claims during that time were deficient and fraudulent because they weren't backed up with copies of face-to-face evaluations and valid orders. After the audit, Rose's was put on "pre-pay" review, meaning it had to submit supporting documentation to Medicare instead of keeping it on file, but allegedly it continued to submit fraudulent claims. In one instance, Rose's ordered a power wheelchair for a beneficiary who only needed to have a wheel on a walker replaced. Asemota, 48, faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.