In brief: O&P stakeholders add bill to arsenal, AAH and VGM book keynotes

Friday, April 29, 2016

WASHINGTON – Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., has introduced a bill that would halt CMS’s plans to make dramatic changes to coverage for prosthetic devices.

H.R. 5045, the “Preserving Access to Modern Prosthetic Limbs Act of 2016,” would “impose a moratorium on the implementation of a proposed Medicare local coverage determination on lower limb prostheses,” according to a bulletin from the American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association.

The bill would restrict CMS from implementing the proposed LCD until at least June 30, 2017. It would also require the agency and its contractors to remove it from their websites. Private payers like United Healthcare and Cigna have made coverage changes since the proposed LCD was made public in July.

The bi-partisan bill has been co-sponsored by Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

The changes in the proposed LCD include requiring a face-to-face visit and a completed rehab program to receive a prosthetic device.

AAHomecare books Congressional champions for conference

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has lined up Reps.Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.,andRenee Ellmers, R-N.C., to speak at the 2016 Washington Legislative Conference, slated for May 25-26 at the Washington Court Hotel. 

Rep. Ellmers introduced a bill this week that would halt CMS’s plans to make dramatic changes to coverage for prosthetic devices, while Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced a bill last year that would require prior authorizations for certain high-cost DME, including oxygen. 

In addition, a general session on May 25 will feature a panel discussion about issues affecting rural providers. The panel, moderated by John Gallagher, vice president of government relations at VGM, and Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, will address the challenges associated with serving patients in rural areas, and how to communicate these issues to patients and policymakers.

“Conference attendees should make a point to attend the rural panel session, whether or not your company is in a rural area,” said Karyn Estrella, executive director of the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England, in an AAHomecare bulletin. “Getting first-hand accounts of the challenges these companies face will be important to convey during your Hill visits.”

As part of the conference, AAHomecare is coordinating Capitol Hill visits to lobby lawmakers on industry issues, include a bill to delay an upcoming second round of Medicare cuts in non-bid areas.

VGM announces keynote speaker

WATERLOO, Iowa –World-renown memory expert Bob Gray has been tapped to give the keynote speech at the VGM Group’s Heartland Conference this year. Gray has taught his memory systems to several Fortune 500 and 100 companies, including Boeing, General Electric, FedEx, and Johnson and Johnson. The premise of his presentation, “Welcome to Your Brain,” is based on credibility and relationships, both of which can be greatly enhanced through a trained memory. “The Heartland Conference is all about connecting our members with tools and resources to help them improve their businesses,” said Sara Laures, VGM’s vice president of special projects and conference chairperson. “Bob’s presentation will provide members with a unique way to improve both personally and professionally through memory and recall techniques.” The conference is slated for June 13-16 at the Ramada Waterloo Hotel and Convention Center in Waterloo, Iowa.

Philips Respironics builds new distribution facility

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Philips Respironicsis working with a developer to build a new 260,000-square-foot distribution center in Westmoreland County, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. The manufacturer is working with Exel, a division of logistics firm DHL, which started construction on the new facility in February and is expected to finish sometime during the second half of 2016. Once the project is completed, Respironics has indicated that it will lease the complex from Exel.

Data wanted: Audit Key accepting new submissions

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare encourages providers to submit data for the first quarter of 2016 to the HME Audit Key. The HME Audit Key collects summary data on audits and appeals. AAHomecare then uses the data to engage policymakers and government regulators on audit-related issues. The first round of data collection, which ended in February, found that 12% of HME claims for new Medicare patients were denied. Participation is free. Go to

Compass Health Brands buys pain management product

CLEVELAND – Compass Health Brands has acquired the Strengthtape brand of kinesiology tape, along with other associated assets from the privately held company Endevr of St. George, Utah. “Strengthtape helps to further expand our portfolio of professional and retail pain management products,” said Jim Hileman, interim CEO and CFO of Compass Health Brands. “By leveraging our extensive sales and logistics network, we expect to have an immediate impact on the sales of the Strengthtape products.” Strengthtape, the official kinesiology tape of the Ironman triathlon, is known for its long-lasting durability and effectiveness on common injuries. The product line includes 35-meter uncut continuous rolls, pre-cut 5-meter rolls, and precut kits. Roscoe Medical, which, along with Carex Health Brands, makes up Compass Health Brands, has had an exclusive distribution agreement with Endevr for more than a year.

REMWorks leverages game-based education

PITTSBURGH – REMWorks has partnered with EdLogics to develop a game-based health education platform that provides incentives to patients to better manage their sleep health and associated costly health conditions. REMWorks is the sleep wellness store opened by health insurer Highmark in December 2014. EdLogics is a health education-based consumer engagement company. The platform, which involves completing activities and games, and learning strategies for better sleep, was launched with Allegheny County of Pennsylvania employees in September. Prior to using the platform, employees scored an average of 67% on the sleep health baseline knowledge assessment. After, they increased their average score to 95%.

Southern Home Medical exec resigns amid merger

GREER, S.C. – Jeffrey Sarvis has resigned from his posts as president and CEO and director of the board of Southern Home Medical. “The merger transaction continues to move forward,” he stated in press release. “This requires my resignation.” Miguel Dotres will step up as interim president and CEO and director. He will lead the company through this transitional phase. Southern Home Medical did not give details on said merger. In March, the company, which owns and operates ApneaRx, reported $1.14 million in revenues and $60,983 in net income for 2015. “SOHM finished the year poised and financially ready to pursue sale, merger and/or acquisition opportunities and was able to quickly attract interest,” it stated in a press release. Southern Home Medical formed in 2007 with an eye toward rolling up HME providers. A year later, it also turned its focus on medical staffing.

Comfort Medical buys resource for wheelchair users

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Comfort Medical, a subsidiary of Liberty Medical, has acquired Wheel:Life, a digital media publication and social community for wheelchair users. Wheel:Life, which has more than 26,000 followers on social media, served more than 100,000 website visitors in 2015. “We are excited to bring the resources and support of Wheel:Life to our customers, as well as provide the opportunity to Wheel:Life to continue expanding the community it serves,” stated Ryan Flannery, president of Comfort Medical, in a press release. Lisa Wells, founder and director of Wheel:Life, will continue to oversee day-to-day operations, partner relationships and ongoing events. Comfort Medical is a national mail-order provider of urological and ostomy supplies.

Feds host listening session on sleep apnea proposal

WASHINGTON – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration will hold three public listening sessions in May to gather information on the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among those working in highway and rail transportation, according to a notice in Thursday’s Federal Register. The agencies also seek information on the potential costs and benefits from possible regulatory actions that address the safety risks associated with transportation workers who have OSA. The agencies plan to webcast each of the three sessions: May 12 in Washington, D.C., May 17 in Chicago and May 25 in Los Angeles. Previously, the two agencies announced a proposal to require sleep tests for transportation workers on March 8.

Short takes: Invacare, NCART

Invacareis an official supporter of the 2016 Invictus Games, which will be held May 8-12 in Orlando, Fla. The company has also donated sports wheelchairs and handbikes for competitors to use as part of the Games. Competitors will take part in 10 events, including archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling and wheelchair rugby…NCART is asking for help on behalf of complex rehab advocate Archer Hadley of Austin, Texas. Hadley, who was a presenter at last year’s CRT conference, has been nominated for a 2016 National Philanthropy Day Honors program award. The winner of the award will be determined by online voting. NCART is asking those in the industry to vote* for Hadley at Scroll down to the “Carter Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Group” section and check on the box Archer Hadley.