In brief: Pharmacists seek exemption, Pride hits the road

Sunday, January 25, 2009

WASHINGTON - Reps. Marion Berry, D-Ark., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced a bill Wednesday that would exempt pharmacists from having to become accredited to bill Medicare Part B. "We want retail pharmacy, especially the independents, to be treated the same as other trained health care professionals," said Berry during a conference call hosted by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) on Thursday. In September 2008, CMS exempted several medical professionals, including physicians, nurse practitioners, speech pathologists, social workers and dieticians from the requirement. Pharmacists were not on the list, and many have said they will stop billing Medicare Part B rather than undertake the time and expense of getting accredited. With the Jan. 31 deadline for accreditation applications coming at the end of this week, the NCPA is still encouraging pharmacists to submit their applications.

Pride hits the road

EXETER, Pa. - Pride Mobility Products kicks off its 2009 Seminar Tour next month, the manufacturer announced Jan. 20. The tour begins Feb. 12 in Charlotte, N.C., and moves through 28 other cities. Pride has conducted the tour since 2000, offering providers the chance to earn continuing education units (CEUs) approved by the University of Pittsburgh. This year, education topics, which are presented by specialists like Christine Maurer, the seating and mobility clinical therapist at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, include documentation, technical service, retail mobility and advanced electronics. As part of the tour, Pride also makes available company experts in product research, design, testing, electronics and funding. For more information:

FAA gives thumbs up to Invacare POC

ELYRIA, Ohio - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Invacare's XPO2 portable oxygen concentrator for airline travel, the manufacturer announced last week. Invacare will now approach individual airlines for their approvals of the XPO2, which was introduced in May 2008. Southwest Airlines has already approved the concentrator. The XPO2 weighs 6 pounds and features Sensi-Pulse technology, a five-setting pulse dose oxygen delivery system that keeps patients saturated during different activities of daily living.

Home infusion bills get second chance

WASHINGTON - The home infusion industry got a jump-start on the new Congress Jan. 16 when two key pieces of legislation were reintroduced. The Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Coverage Act of 2009, introduced concurrently in the House (H.R. 574) and in the Senate (S.254) would require Medicare to pay for services, supplies and equipment related to home infusion therapy under Part B. Currently, Medicare pays for home infusion drugs under Part D, along with a small dispensing fee for services and supplies. H.R. 574 and S.254, originally introduced in July 2007 and September 2008, have enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. The National Home Infusion Association has planned a special Legislative Hill Day for March 5 as part of its annual conference. For more information:

Judge deals 'harsher' sentence to provider

MIAMI - A DME provider here was sentenced this month to eight years in prison for Medicare fraud. Remberto Sarmiento, 47, was convicted Nov. 20 of using stolen patient information to submit more than $7 million in fraudulent claims through two companies that he owned: APR Medical Supply Equipment and Super Medical Supply. U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro imposed a harsher sentence after learning that Sarmiento lied to the FBI by stating that he knew nothing about either company.