In brief: Oxygen reform, consolidation

Sunday, April 19, 2009

ARLINGTON, Va. - With lawmakers back at work this week, AAHomecare will step up efforts to develop legislative language for oxygen reform. "Key members of Congress who are working on broader healthcare reform are trying to get bills completed by June," said Michael Reinemer, vice president of communications and policy for the association. "That gives us a fairly short window. We will use the feedback we've gotten as we go forward." The 15-point plan--a provision to reclassify oxygen suppliers as providers, in particular--has drawn both praise and ire from the provider community. It's understandable that providers fear the unknown, said Jackie Bolt, president of the South Carolina Medical Equipment Services Association, which supports the plan. But "moving into provider status lets lawmakers see we are serious about reform," she said.

Apria consolidates billing offices

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. - Apria Healthcare Group plans to cut 90 jobs at a billing office here as part of an effort to offset federal cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates, it announced last week. Over the next year, seven billing centers nationwide will be affected, Apria Executive Vice President Lisa Getson told the Chicago Tribune. The Lake Forest, Calif.-based provider notified workers on April 14 that it's consolidating billing for certain medical equipment businesses to Phoenix; Kansas City, Kan.; and Jackson, Tenn. In February, the company announced plans to close its Hanover Township, Pa., billing office. It also announced future closings in Seattle and Houston.

Simplex simplifies name

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mail order provider Simplex Diabetic Supply announced last week that it has changed its name to Simplex Healthcare after only 20 months under the original banner. "Our company has accomplished our initial mission of scaling to relevance and becoming a leading provider of diabetic testing supplies," said Doug Hudson, chairman and CEO of Simplex. "Our new corporate identity better reflects our expanded mission--to provide a broader range of healthcare products to help patients with diabetes live an active and healthy lifestyle." The company was founded in 2007.

Coming soon:  Invacare financial results

ELYRIA, Ohio - Invacare will host a conference call for investors and other interested parties April 23 to discuss its financial results for the first quarter of 2009. To participate, call 888-498-8397 and use the ID 93631041.

RESNA offers online registration

NEW ORLEANS - RESNA will hold its annual conference June 23-27 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. Assistive technologists, rehab professionals, rehab engineers, therapists and others can now register online at The conference comprises instructional courses, workshops and committee meetings, and offers attendees the opportunity to earn up to 2.9 continuing education units (CEUs). 

Study: Patients need better COPD education

NEW YORK - It appears COPD patients don't really understand their disease, according to a study published in the April 2009 American Journal of Medicine. Researchers at Columbia University interviewed more than 1,000 COPD patients and 80% of them reported undergoing spirometry in the prior year, yet only 10% reported knowing their FEV1 (a lung function measurement). By contrast, 79% knew their blood pressure and 37% their cholesterol level. The study calls for better education.

ICD-10 call coming in May

BALTIMORE - CMS will hold an ICD-10-CM/PCS Implementation and General Equivalence Mappings (Crosswalks) conference call May 19, 2009, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST. Topics will include an overview of the ICD-10 final rule and the differences between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM/PCS codes. To register: