In brief: Obama seeks input, Apria names new chief

Sunday, December 7, 2008

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama and his administration have given Americans the opportunity to weigh in online about healthcare issues. Industry stakeholders encourage providers to submit their concerns about the 36-month oxygen cap and national competitive bidding. Already, several thousand people have posted comments. "President-elect Obama believes that change really comes from the ground up, not from Washington," Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., told the Washington Post last week. Provide your comments at

Apria names new chief
LAKE FOREST, Calif. - Apria Healthcare, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group, named Dr. Norman Payson CEO last week. Since October, when Blackstone acquired Apria, Payson has served as Apria's executive chairman and interim CEO. He has been a member of the provider's board of directors for the past two years. Previously, Payson served as CEO of two multi-million member publicly traded health plans: Healthsource, a physician sponsored health plan now part of Cigna; and Oxford Health Plans, New York City's largest health plan. Apria lauds Payson's "expertise in the transition of complex healthcare businesses."

Covidien spends $450,000 on lobbying
BOULDER, Colo. - Covidien spent $450,000 on lobbying in the third quarter, The Associated Press reported last week. It lobbied on a bill that would require drug and medical device manufacturers to disclose gifts given to physicians by their salespeople; reimbursement rates for medical devices paid for by Medicare; and a bill aimed at overhauling the patent system.

Walgreens expands specialty pharmacy biz
DEERFIELD, Ill. - Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy has acquired McKesson's specialty pharmacy, the companies announced Dec. 1. The deal includes Pittsburgh-based McKesson Specialty Pharmacy and Frisco, Texas-based IVPCare. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy is operated by Walgreens Health Services. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy provides services across the country. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

DME MAC posts FAQs on prescriptions, ABNs
HINGHAM, Mass. - National Heritage Insurance Co., the DME MAC for Jurisdiction A, posted FAQs on prescription and advanced beneficiary notices (ABNs) for DMEPOS to its Web site last week. To read the FAQs, go to

CMS releases coding fact sheet
BALTIMORE - CMS made the ICD-10 Clinical Modification/Procedure Coding System Fact Sheet available last week. The fact sheet details the benefits of adopting the new coding system, the structural differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10, and planning recommendations. To order the fact sheet, go to Scroll down to "related links inside CMS" and select "MLN Product Ordering Page."

DME MAC offers lookup tool
FARGO, N.D. - Noridian Administrative Services, the DME MAC for Jurisdiction D, now offers a lookup tool for fees, including those for DMEPOS, pharmacy supply and parenteral and enteral nutrition. Go to and, under durable medical equipment, select "Fees" from the drop-down menu.

Dr. Petty gets it wrong? Not so fast
YARMOUTH, Maine - The VGM Group and the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Supplies (NAIMES) in late November asked providers to visit and respond to a "misleading" summary of the oxygen payment and policy changes written by Dr. Tom Petty. While the Web site features Petty--"view the latest answers to your questions from Dr. Tom," it reads--he didn't write the summary. "I am not currently up to date about all of the latest regulations," he stated in an e-mail.