In brief: OMHA seeks comment, NSM makes buy

Friday, November 7, 2014

WASHINGTON – The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) is seeking public input on current initiatives to deal with the increased workload and backlog of appeals at the administrative law judge (ALJ) level. In a notice published in the Nov. 5 Federal Register, OMHA asks, among other questions: Are there other suggestions for addressing the increased workload and/or backlog of appeals at the Administrative Law Judge level that comply with current statutory authorities and requirements? AAHomecare officials will meet with Chief ALJ Nancy Griswold next week. Comments are due Dec. 5.

Is Blackstone shopping Apria?

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Private equity firm The Blackstone Group is said to be in discussions to sell Apria Healthcare, according to an article published on Reuters PE Hub. Blackstone acquired Apria in 2008 for $1.6 billion. In late 2013, Apria sold Coram, its home infusion business, to CVS Caremark for $2.1 billion. The infusion business had revenues of $975.3 million in the third quarter of 2013—about 53% of Apria’s revenue.

VGM creates new division

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM has created a new Emerging Markets division to drum up high-potential business opportunities. Ron Bendell will take the reins as president of the division. Bendell, the former president of VGM and Associates, has been with the company for nearly two decades. “We remain very optimistic about the long-term outlook for HME, related health care opportunities and our business,” said VGM CEO Van Miller. Clint Geffert will replace Bendell as the new president of VGM and Associates; and Chris Hetherton has been named as vice president of operations for VGM and Associates. Changes take effect Dec. 1.

NSM acquires Hudson

NASHVILLE – National Seating & Mobility (NSM) has acquired Hudson Seating & Mobility, it announced today, absorbing nine branches and approximately 200 employees. Based in Newington, Conn., and founded in 1980, Hudson’s has nine branches in six states from New Jersey to New Hampshire, according to a press release. NSM has made several buys this year, including Pennsylvania-based Able Mobility Center in September and Rhode Island-based Major Medical Supply in June.

Health insurer to open sleep store

PITTSBURGH – Highmark in December plans to open a retail location in Homestead, Pa., to address sleeplessness and sleep apnea. REMWorks Sleep Store will offer CPAP machines and mask fittings as well as over-the-counter solutions for non-medical sleep issues. "We saw a market demand that was not being met, and that's what led to the development of the sleep store concept," said Paul Puopolo, VP of business innovation and development at Highmark. REMWorks will accept most regional and national insurance carriers for clinical services.

New entry to online incontinence market

PEMBROKE, Mass. – The Incontinence Company on Nov. 4 launched with a website featuring a wide selection of products, advice and home delivery, the company announced. “Millions of Americans are coping with incontinence, and it isn’t easy to find a variety of products and sizes in local stores, never mind an expert to advise you on what’s available and might best suit your situation,” said Ann Landauer, media coordinator for the new online company. The Incontinence Company also offers a wide selection of home healthcare products and mobility equipment, including bath safety products, aids to daily living and specialty bariatric products to make home care easier.

Better Rest Solutions stands up to drowsy driving

BOSTON – In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Better Rest Solutions (BRS) will donate $5 to the National Sleep Foundation for every SoClean and SoClean 2 Go sold in November. “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is such an important campaign for sleep apnea patients to be aware of,” said Mike Schmidt, president of BRS. The Uxbridge, Mass.-based manufacturer has also agreed to donate $1 for every 10 individuals (up to $2,500) who pledge to take a stand against drowsy driving. This past spring, the company celebrated sleep apnea awareness with a similar effort.

Naturs Design announces “Game-Changer”

MINNEAPOLIS – Naturs Design and the Pro Player Health Alliance have teamed up to for a new educational campaign. “It’s a Game-Changer” will focus on helping former and current NFL pro-players and others suffering from sleep apnea comply with CPAP therapy. The campaign’s spokesperson and NFL Hall of Famer, Carl Eller, was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and has been using RemZzzs with his CPAP mask during therapy. “Carl can speak from personal experience,” said Robert Rutan, CEO of Naturs Design. “His voice will be heard among pro-players and by sleep apnea patients nationwide.” Eller kicked off the campaign by signing autographs and handing out free samples of RemZzzs CPAP mask liners during the Nov. 2 Minnesota Vikings home game. 

New sleep store opens its doors 

DENVER – Somnia, a sleep wellness retail store, opened at Park Meadows Mall in Colorado this month. Founded in 2013, Somnia offers pediatric sleep coaching, free sleep assessments, in-home OSA sleep testing devices and CPAP equipment for those who suffer from insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. "We spent a significant amount of time studying the sleep market and learning how few people seek medical help for their sleep problems," said Peter Fatianow, president and CEO. "It's inexcusable that 75% of the millions of people affected by OSA remain undiagnosed. No other chronic condition has those statistics."

TiLite walks the walk

Kennewick, Wash. – More than 50 TiLite employees raced custom-built wheelchairs at the Trios Health Tri-Cities Marathon in October. Teams worked in groups of four, each rolling approximately 6.5 miles, according to a local newspaper. According to David Lippes, founder and president of the Pasco-based wheelchair manufacturer, the marathon encapsulated the spirit of a former company rule requiring new employees to spend 24 hours in a wheelchair so they could better understand the challenges wheelchair users face.

Short takes

ECS Billing & Consulting North has been re-accredited by HQAA. ECS is the only billing company in the U.S. to receive this accreditation...Carlsbad, Calif.–based Access Medical has opened two new locations, in Burlingame and Palm Desert. Founded in 2006 by Blaine Hunt, Access Medical focuses on custom wheelchairs…AirWare Labs has filed a patent application for a new CPAP treatment system that replaces bulky CPAP masks with a streamlined nasal design. AirWare Labs’ design will eliminate dryness and irritation due to the system’s high flow nasal cannula, which will increase airflow by up to 60% and diffuse the flow of air as it enters the nasal passage…Matthews, N.C.–based Carolina's Home Medical Equipment has restructured to handle an increased demand created by the Round 1 recompete of the competitive bidding program and has created a new position to oversee audit activity and regulatory compliance.

People news

Sequel Response has hired Collin Carroll as it new marketing manager. A former reporter, Carroll will help the company grow into new advertising channels…Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment has promoted Andrew Trammell to vice president and CFO; Kaitlin Nacarato to director of regulatory and revenue enhancement; Cilia Dioguardo to customer service manager; and John Melton to patient service manager.