In brief: Mum’s still the word at CMS, Drive makes buy

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Friday, January 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders were still waiting for word from CMS at press time on Friday on how the agency plans to retroactively delay a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-competitive bidding areas.

The recently passed 21st Century Cures Act included a provision to retroactively delay the cuts from July 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017.

When CMS had to delay its plans to apply bid pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs at the last-minute per a bill signed into law on Dec. 28, the agency didn’t come out with guidance until the third week of January, points out Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

Stakeholders have argued that CMS should bear the responsibility of re-processing the claims over the six-month period.

Drive buys U.K. bed manufacturer

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare has already kicked off 2017 with an acquisition.

The company announced Jan. 9 that it has acquired Sidhil Group, a U.K. manufacturer of hospital and long-term care beds, pressure prevention products and a range of aids to daily living for the homecare, acute care and long-term care markets in the U.K. and throughout Europe.

“This acquisition will expand Drive’s existing manufacturing capabilities in the U.K., while adding significant manufacturing expertise to our European platform,” said Harvey Diamond, CEO of Drive, in a press release.

Sidhil Group has been manufacturing healthcare products in the U.K. for more than 130 years, with a focus on research and development. It currently operates from a state-of-the-art, 105,000-square-foot facility in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and has a nationwide service center network.

For Sidhil Group, which had its start as a small, family-run business, the acquisition allows the company to bring its product line to “new markets the world over,” said Peter Siddall, chairman of the Sidhil Group, in the release.

Drive has already made a number of acquisitions in the bed market, most recently U.K.-based Park House Healthcare in 2015.

Terms of the deal with Sidhil Group were not disclosed.

Obamacare enrollments outpace last year

WASHINGTON – More than 11.5 million people nationwide were signed up for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage as of Dec. 24, 2016, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

That’s an increase of 286,000 compared to the same period the previous year.

Additionally, more than 700,000 residents of New York and Minnesota also signed up through the Basic Health Programs offered by those states, bringing the total to 12.2 million enrolled.

More than 8.7 million people signed up for coverage through healthcare.gov for 2017. They included:

·      8 million female and 4 million males;

·      9 million white, 584,000 African-American, 882,000 Latinos and 573,000 Asian consumers; and

·      6 million rural Americans.

“Nationwide demand for health coverage is higher than ever, as Americans prove again that Marketplace coverage is vital to them and their families,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Work group expands focus on Medicaid issues

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare’s State Leaders Council has formed a work group to explore ways to address competitive bid pricing for Medicaid.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which passed in December, contained a provision that limits the federal portion of Medicaid reimbursement to Medicare’s bid pricing for DMEPOS starting in 2018.

The work group will assess what level of flexibility states have in setting Medicaid rates, and will develop approaches to educate state Medicaid directors about their options under the new law.


“We’re excited to expand the focus of AAHomecare’s partnership with our local HME associations to tackle increasing state issues facing our members as a result of the changes mandated in the Cures Act that affect Medicaid reimbursement,” said Kam Yuricich, who chairs the work group and the State Leaders Council, and is executive director of the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services and Great Lakes Home Medical Services Association.  

Arriva gets day in court

WALTHAM Mass. – CMS has agreed not to terminate Arriva Medical’s mail-order contract while the provider appeals to have its license reinstated.

An administrative law judge has required both parties to have initial briefings finished by Jan. 18. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8 before the Federal District Judge, stated Alere, Arriva Medicals’s parent company, in a press release. CMS revoked Arriva Medical’s billing privileges in November for allegedly submitting 211 claims for deceased patients between April 15, 2011, and April 25, 2016.

Bill seeks payment for pharmacy services

WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have re-introduce a bill to help pharmacists provide healthcare services to Medicare beneficiaries in underserved areas. The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, S.109, seeks to offer Medicare payment for services such as wellness screenings, immunizations and diabetes management. “Across the country and in Pennsylvania pharmacists play a critical role in helping seniors receive access to routine healthcare services like wellness checks,” said Sen. Casey in a release. “This legislation will aid those in rural communities who may not live in close proximity to the doctor but do have regular contact with their pharmacist. The National Community Pharmacists Association supports the bill. “Pharmacists are highly trained professionals and the most accessible health care providers for patients,” said NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey.The bill has 27 original co-sponsors.

ResMed set to launch travel CPAP

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its AirMini, a device that the company says is “the world’s smallest continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.” ResMed expects to launch the AirMini later this year. It is designed as a secondary CPAP, making it easier for users to continue their sleep therapy while traveling. “ResMed AirMini is the portable travel CPAP patients and home medical equipment providers have been waiting for, and we look forward to bringing it to market later this year,” said ResMed CEO Mick Farrell in a press release. “It fits easily in carry-on luggage—even in the seatback pocket on the plane.” Human Design Capital, which is owned by private investment firm PBM Capital, launched a portable CPAP device called the Z1 in 2013. It is sold direct to consumers.

AASM launches platform for HME

DARIEN, Ill. – AASM SleepTM, a telemedicine platform for board-certified sleep physicians and accredited sleep centers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is now available for the HME industry. AASM SleepTM offers a secure web-based video platform to facilitate live consultations and follow-up visits between DME providers and patients, including equipment set-up and troubleshooting potential problems. “Telemedicine is changing the health care landscape by increasing connectivity between patients and health care providers, and now that convenience is available to DME providers and their at-home patients,” said Jerry Barrett, AASM executive director.

Senators take NTSB to task

WASHINGTON – Five U.S. senators have asked the National Transportation Safety Board to conduct a review of the implementation of sleep apnea testing for engineers for all passenger railroads. In a letter to NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart, Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut note that operator fatigue and sleep apnea have been cited in recent train crashes, including a fatal crash in Hoboken, N.J., last September, and is being looked at in conjunction with a recent crash in Brooklyn. "What's even more concerning than the slow progress railroads are making is an apparent growing trend of railroads pledging to implement sleep apnea testing and inward cameras only after a derailment has occurred on their system," the senators wrote in the letter.

Inogen expects to recoup $2M

GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen expects to recoup up to $2 million in rental revenues for the fourth quarter of 2016 as a result of a provision in the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act. The provision requires CMS to retroactively delay a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-competitive bidding areas from June 30, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2016. The company based its estimate on preliminary, unaudited financial data, it said in a press release. “We are pleased that the Cures Act reverses some reimbursement cuts in 2016 and are encouraged that it calls for a study of the impact of the competitive bidding pricing on rural areas,” said CEO Raymond Huggenberger in the release. The cuts went back into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Aeroflow launches petition to protect breastfeeding support

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has created a petition to keep breastfeeding support as a women’s preventative care guideline available through the Affordable Care Act. Currently, pregnant and new mothers are covered for services like breastfeeding support, but these services are “on the chopping block,” the company states in a press release, under a new administration and a new Congress. “Replacement insurance plans may still include preventative care in bits and pieces, but the most vulnerable populations—young mothers and the children they support—will likely be the hardest hit by elimination of these guidelines,” the release states. Aeroflow’s Mom & Baby division provides lactation support, breast pumps and pumping supplies.

PSP Homecare sees sales increase

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. – Proto Script Pharmaceutical, doing business as PSP Homecare, has increased its sales by nearly 75% over the past year, the company announced Jan. 11. The provider has competitive bid contracts for standard mobility equipment and general home medical equipment. "I am pleased to report that during the three months ended Sept. 30, 2016, we were successful at increasing our topline sales by almost 75% over the previous year and actually turned a very small profit," said Michelle Rico, CEO and president. "As positive as this sales increase has been, we are very confident that this is only the beginning of our growth strategy taking hold and that there is much more to come."

Save the date: Essentially Women sets fall conference

WATERLOO, Iowa – Essentially Women has scheduled its annual education conference and trade show for Sept. 16-18 in Minneapolis. “We’re excited to bring our members and vendors to the Midwest next fall,” said Christa Miehe, president, in a press release. “Minneapolis was chosen as our destination for 2017 because it’s an equitably accessible location in the center of the country.” The three-day “Focus” conference will provide members with continuing education and training, resources to improve operational efficiencies, and networking opportunities. Registration will open in March. The VGM Group bought EW, a member services organization with more than 600 members in 1,000 locations, in late 2015. It has moved the annual conference from the spring to the fall.

BOC elects new members

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The BOC board has elected its 2017 executive committee. Bradley Watson, president of Clarksville Limb + Brace + Rehab in Bowling Green, Ky., chairman; Rod Borkowski, president of Health Essentials in Calif., vice-chairman; Wayne Rosen, owner of W.R. Rosen, Inc., in South Florida, secretary; Shane Ryley, area clinic manager at Hanger Orthopedic Group in Torrance, Calif., treasurer; and Jeffrey Hedges, president of R.J. Hedges & Associates in New Florence, Pa., member-at-large. James Hewlett continues to serve as immediate past chairman. The board also named Von Homer and John Owen to the board.

Carex light therapy lamp shines bright

QUINCY, Mass. – Carex Health Brands’ Day-Light Classic Plus, was recognized by The Sweethome as the “best light therapy lamp,” the manufacturer announced in a recent press release. "At Carex Health Brands, we strive to deliver quality, innovative and affordable products that will help consumers live their best lives,” said Jeff Swain, vice president of marketing, retail, for Compass Health Brands. “We are absolutely thrilled that our Day-Light Classic Plus bright light therapy lamp has been recognized for just that.” The Day-Light Classic Plus can help consumers experience relief from seasonal affective disorder in 20- to 30-minute treatment sessions. The Sweethome, part of The New York Times Company, examined about 40 lamps.