In brief: OIG finds large recovery, F&P reports growth

Friday, December 6, 2019

WASHINGTON – Taxpayers could see nearly $5.9 billion that has been misspent on healthcare services returned to the government, according to The Office of Inspector General in its Semiannual Report to Congress published last week.

Of the savings and recoveries in FY 2019, more than $819 million is expected to be recovered from audits and approximately $5.04 billion from investigative recoveries, according to the OIG.

For the reporting period, April 1– Sept. 30, 2019, the OIG reported 353 criminal and 357 civil actions against individuals or entities that engaged in offenses related to health care. It also reported more than $1.47 billion in HHS-related investigative receivables and more than $1.13 billion in non-HHS related investigative receivables, including civil and administrative settlements or civil judgments related to Medicare, Medicaid, and federal state and private healthcare programs.

The agency highlighted numerous fraud recovery efforts, including Operation Brace Yourself. In April, the OIG and various law enforcement agencies broke up a $1.2 billion fraud scheme involving medically unnecessary braces. Charges were brought against 24 defendants on allegations involving illegal kickbacks and bribes by DME companies in exchange for referrals of Medicare beneficiaries by medical professionals working with fraudulent telemedicine companies for back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces.

Fisher & Paykel reports growth

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Fisher & Paykel Healthcare reported net profit after tax of $121.2 million for the six months ended Sept. 30, representing 24% growth.

The company reported operating revenue of $570.9 million, representing 12% growth.

F&P reported operating revenue of NZ$214.7 million for its homecare product group, representing 2% growth.

“Revenue from our new F&P Vitera full face mask in Australasia, Canada and Europe has partially offset declines in sales of some of our legacy OSA masks, resulting in homecare revenue in line with expectations for the first half,” said Managing Director and CEO Lewis Gradon. “Vitera was launched in the United States in October, and we are encouraged by the early response from customers.”

At current exchange rates, F&P expects full-year operating revenue for the 2020 financial year to be about $1.19 billion and net profit after tax to be in the range of about $255 million to $256 million.

In the homecare product group, F&P expects the 2020 financial year to be similar to the previous year, with growth in home respiratory support but ongoing pressure in legacy OSA masks.

Invacare to close facility in Germany

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare will close its production and distribution facility in Porta Westfalica, Germany, at the end of 2020, a move that will affect about 240 associates, according to a Form 8-K that the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 25.

The work done there will be done at other Invacare facilities or by third parties.

As a result of the move, Invacare expects to incur pre-tax cash restructuring charges in its Europe segment, primarily related to severance and transition assistance, as well as other closure-related costs. The terms of these packages, however, are subject to applicable works council and consultative processes, so the company can’t estimate the amount and timing of the restructuring charges. Invacare will file an amendment to Form 8-K once the company has determined those charges.

The company has made a number of adjustments to its roster of facilities in the past few years, including transferring production of its Küschall manual wheelchairs from a facility in Witterswil, Switzerland, to a facility in Fondettes, France, last year; and closing a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, in 2017.

VGM hosts bid eval webcast

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group’s Mark Higley and Ronda Buhrmester are hosting a webcast on Dec. 11 on the preliminary bid evaluation (PBE) notices that providers received Dec. 3.

They will discuss issues and concerns with the PBEs, as well as frequently asked questions.

“VGM recognizes there are some critical issues and perhaps some confusion,” a bulletin states. “Many are misinterpreting Table 1 as a list of issues applicable to the bidding number referenced. It is not. Table 1 is equivalent to a ‘reference guide’ and was intended to inform all bidding entities of the various review items within the PBE.”

Providers should focus their attention on “Table 2” for missing or possibly incorrectly entered items.

The PBE notices are the last item on CMS’s timeline for Round 2021 until the announcement of the single payment amounts in the summer.

To attend the webcast, which is live at 1:30 CST, dial by phone 773-231-9226 (ID: 148 491 5439) or login by computer at

AAH: Updates supplier counts, comments on rural areas

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has found that, while the number of unique companies is down 37% and the number of locations is down 35% since 2010, the data for October 2019 is virtually unchanged from January 2019. The number of unique companies increased from 6,143 to 6,180 and the number of locations from 9,195 to 9,196, according to the association. Go here to see AAHomecare’s updated supplier tracking sheet…The association this month responded to the House Ways & Means Committee’s request for information to help identify strategies to address challenges for rural and underserved communities. As part of its comments, AAHomecare recommended providing rural areas with relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program through H.R. 2771, a bill that would make permanent a 50-50 blended reimbursement rate in rural areas and would introduce a 75-25 rate for non-rural, non-bid areas.

Register now to save at Medtrade Spring

LAS VEGAS – The deadline for Medtrade Spring Early Rates is coming up: Dec. 7. The event, March 3-5, will again take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Early Rates are $50 for an Expo Pass and $199 for a conference pass. “Medtrade Spring is a bit earlier in the new year than in the past, and that has several advantages,” said Mark Lind, show director, Medtrade Spring. “There is no conflict with March Madness, spring break or Easter, and attendees get a quicker chance to jumpstart their year.” On Dec. 8, Advance Rates go into effect, with $100 for an Expo Pass and $249 for a conference pass. On Feb. 22, regular rates go into effect, with $150 for an Expo Pass and $329 for a conference pass. To register, go here.

SoClean to sell Itamar’s sleep apnea test

PETERBOROUGH, N.H., and CAESAREA, Israel – SoClean has exclusive rights to market and sell the WatchPAT ONE to the direct-to-consumer market in the U.S., subject to purchasing certain minimum quantities. “The collaboration is designed to overcome the barriers to sleep apnea testing and therapy solutions by enabling consumers to purchase remote sleep consultations and home-based sleep test using the WatchPAT One in the comfort of their own homes,” a press release states. Itamar Medical’s WatchPAT One is a disposable home sleep apnea test cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. SoClean will have exclusivity through any and all marketing and sales channels outside of healthcare providers and facilities. SoClean plans to announce further details on the arrangement in the first quarter of 2020.

Permobil taps new leader for Americas

LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil has named Charles “Chuck” Witkowski as executive vice president, Business Region Americas. Witkowski most recently worked at Hillrom, where he led the creation of its high growth vision care business. Prior to that, he was founding president and CEO of Hubble Telemedical, a national telemedicine provider and medical device startup focused on eradicating diabetic vision loss and blindness. “We are delighted to welcome Chuck to Permobil,” said CEO Bengt Thorsson. “His customer-first focus, with a background in creating and growing life sciences startups into settled companies; his track record of strong growth within established corporate environments across functional leadership roles; and his deep commitment to become an integral member of our team, makes him the ideal candidate to lead Permobil’s business in the Americas.”

Providers making waves: Advanced Home Care, Freedom Mobility Center

Advanced Home Care has re-designed its flagship store in High Point, N.C., according to the Triad Business Journal. The 1,500-square-foot retail space features a variety of products, including CPAP devices and supplies, scooters, wheelchairs, pain relief products, and ostomy and wound care supplies. “Advanced Home Care’s goal is to be a full resource to those who want to age in place,” CEO Joel Mills told the Triad. “Our stores are an integral part of achieving that goal.” Advanced Home Care, which has more than 30 locations in five states, offers HME and supplies, as well as nursing, PT, OT and speech therapy services…Freedom Mobility Center has opened a new location in Savannah, Ga., complementing its existing locations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Bonafide offers infection control solution

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Bonafide Medical Group has partnered with EMist to provide the EPIX360, a handheld disinfectant spray, as part of its Bac-Track solution to help healthcare facilities reduce the risk of infection due to cross contamination. The spray applies a bipolar charge to the chemical so that the oppositely charged target surface pulls the droplets like a set of magnets. “It’s what you can’t see that can lead to disease spread,” said Scott McDaniel, chief commercial officer for Bonafide. “Bac-Track helps you see the world through a different lens.” Bonafide offers business workflow management for the DME industry, as well as a patient and facility protal, infection preventin technology and advanced analytics.

BOC names award recipient

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – BOC has named John Kenney, MURP, BOCO, as the 2019 recipient of the Jim Newberry Award for Extraordinary Service. Kenney, vice president of clinical development at Ongoing Care Solutions, has a longstanding history with BOC, serving on its board of directors for eight years, including as chairman and vice chairman, and its O&P Alliance. He has also designed and patented several orthotic devices, including the NeuroFlex and DynaPro Orthotics. “John is a compassionate, intelligent leader who exemplifies the high level of dedication and support to BOC demonstrated by our dear friend Jim Newberry,” says BOC’s President & CEO Claudia Zacharias.

Aeroflow partners with MTI to provide disposables

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has partnered with MTI America, a workers compensation insurer, to provide incontinence supplies, catheters and CPAP supplies to its members. “We are thrilled to partner with a like-minded organization like MTI America, who for over 25 years has established itself as a patient-first organization, a vision we share in common,” said Savanah Atkins, strategic partnerships associate at Aeroflow Healthcare. “Aeroflow has continued to grow at a rapid pace, further establishing itself as a provider of quality equipment and products.” MTI’s services include clinical oversight programs, home health and complex care, and DME and supplies.

Boardman Medical Supply transitions respiratory business

GIRARD, Ohio – Boardman Medical Supply has sold its respiratory business to Rotech, according to WKBN. “We’re still going to be Boardman Medical Supply,” General Manager Robin Ivany told the news station. “We didn’t give up our name. We didn’t give up our phone number. We’re just transitioning our respiratory patients.” Boardman Medical Supply’s respiratory business represents 65% of its overall business, WKBN reported. Boardman Medical Supply will remain open, providing non-respiratory products like wheelchairs, walkers and TENS units, according to the news station. As part of the deal, some of Boardman Medical Supply’s employees will go to work for Rotech, which will be renting part of the company’s building in Girard. Boardman Medical Supply also has locations in Boardman, East Liverpool and Warren.

Golden Technologies donates lift recliners

OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies has donated several luxury lift recliners to The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania for participants of their day program. “We are happy to bring comfort and joy to our friends at The Arc by providing high-quality seating to improve their quality of life and add to their sense of independence,” said Rich Golden, CEO. “We recognize the importance of meeting the needs of aging adults and are so honored to contribute to The Arc’s warm and friendly atmosphere with our power lift recliners.” The Arc is dedicated to advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Chris Carroll, director of marketing at Golden Technologies, serves on The Arc’s board of directors.

VGM Government Relations streamlines communications plan

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Government Relations has updated its communications plan to streamline the way it provides information to its members. The group has updated its blog and made it the primary source for the most up-to-date news. It encourages members to subscribe to the blog to receive updates on payer relations, as well as reimbursement, regulatory, legislative and state news affecting HME providers. “Our purpose is to position our members for success not only today, but well into the future—getting accurate information to them as quickly as possible is a crucial part of that,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations. VGM Government Relations also has a new look and tagline. The team is comprised of Gallagher, Tom Powers, Ronda Buhrmester, Craig Douglas, Mark Higley and Emily Harken.

ACHC adds accreditation

CARY, N.C. – The Accreditation Commission for Health Care has launched a mail-order accreditation service. Pharmacies that undergo this accreditation demonstrate compliance with standards that address: pharmacy licensure, shipping methodology, patient and employee safety, prescription intake and review, patient records and communication, personnel training, organizational oversight and ongoing quality improvement. “This accreditation will allow a pharmacy to demonstrate to their customers, insurance providers and regulatory agencies that they have quality systems in place to accurately and safely deliver medications to patients,” said Jon Pritchett, program director for ACHC. OptumRx, a pharmacy care services company, now recognizes ACHC as an approved accreditor for mail-order pharmacies. ACHC also offers accreditation programs for specialty, infusion, long-term care and sterile/non-sterile compounding services.

ResMed pedals for cancer

SAN DIEGO – A team of ResMed employees biked, ran and spun more than 950 miles to raise $23,000 for Padres Pedal the Cause on Nov. 14. Padres Pedal is a community of cancer fighters, including survivors, families, children, doctors and researchers, who participate in a one-day cycling, running and stationary bike event at Petco Park in San Diego to raise funds for local cancer research. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 7, with 100% going to four San Diego-area cancer research institutions (UC San Diego Health, Sanford Burnham Prebys Institute, Salk Institute and Rady Children’s Hospital). ResMed has raised more than $135,000 for Padres Pedal over the years.