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In brief: Providers deploy precautions, infusion bills introduced

In brief: Providers deploy precautions, infusion bills introduced

YARMOUTH, Maine - HME providers have begun taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of employees, patients and their communities in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Cape Medical Supply based in Sandwich, Mass., is limiting person-to-person activity, opting instead to ship products to patients. It is also encouraging patients to use its web-based technologies, including a web portal and mobile app, for ordering, communications and information.

“We are standing by ready to meet the needs of the patients and partners we serve,” the company said in a blog. “We are confident in our shipping operations and technology infrastructure. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate as needed.”

On the opposite coast, Home Oxygen Company based in Modesto, Calif., is asking patients to accept home delivery and remote education, instead of scheduling in-office appointments. The company already has an established “virtual home delivery” program that's integrated with Philips Respironics Care Orchestrator.

“This is for everyone's benefit during this pandemic,” said Andrew Ewert, president and CEO. “We are in the position to continue servicing our patients seamlessly and without delay.

We are in constant communication with federal and state regulators.”

Earlier this week, AAHomecare asked CMS to relax Medicare requirements or chronic lung disease to better facilitate home oxygen therapy during the coronavirus outbreak.

House, Senate introduce home infusion bills

WASHINGTON - Legislation that seeks to preserve access to Part B home infusion medications was introduced March 12 in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The bill would provide technical clarifications to remove the requirement that a home infusion professional must be present in the home on the day services are provided to be paid.

“Medicare's home infusion therapy benefit provides increased access to care for patients with immune diseases, cancer, serious infections, heart failure, and other conditions that might otherwise force these patients to receive their care in a more expensive and less convenient hospital or nursing home setting,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who introduced the bill with Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., as well as Reps. Elliot Engel, D-N.Y., Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, and Fred Upton, R-Mich. “This legislation will ensure that Medicare enrollees in need of home infusion therapy can get the care they need in a more comfortable environment and at a more reasonable cost to the federal government.”

The legislation also acknowledges the full spectrum of professional services provided in home infusion, including essential pharmacy services-into the reimbursement structure.

The 21st Century Cures Act created a professional services benefit for Medicare Part B home infusion drugs, but infusion stakeholders say CMS did not follow Congress's intent by requiring the nurse to be in the home.

Invacare sells Dynamic Controls

Dynamic Controls will continue to provide ongoing supply, support of LiNX system

ELYRIA, Ohio - Invacare has completed the sale of its Dynamic Controls subsidiary to Amherst, N.Y.-based Allied Motion Technologies.

As part of the deal, Invacare has entered into a long-term product supply agreement with Dynamic Controls that includes ongoing supply and support of the LiNX system, a control solution for power wheelchairs.

As so much of our business is based on electromotive propulsion, we are pleased to be working more closely with a leading innovator of motion technology to pave the way for better integrated propulsion systems in the future,” said Matthew Monaghan, chairman, president and CEO of Invacare. “By entering into a strategic relationship with Allied Motion, we can create exciting new opportunities to accelerate technical advances in power wheelchairs through closer integration of the key control and motor technologies and expect other novel innovations as a result. Through this transaction, Dynamic Controls' technology can be combined with Allied Motion's unique capabilities as a leading electromotive technology company to drive the next horizon of innovation.”

The agreement also includes continued support of the MyLiNX informatics platform, as well as the infrastructure and applications that drive the healthcare informatics solution for Invacare's respiratory products.

Allied Motion designs, manufactures and sells precision and specialty motion-control components and systems used in a broad range of industries.

“We are eager to begin working with the Dynamic Controls team to inspire the development of new and innovative motion control products,” said Richard Warzala, chairman, president and CEO of Allied Motion. “We are also looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with the Invacare team, by providing products, service and support for Invacare's powered mobility and respiratory portfolios.”
Coronavirus outbreak: AAH seeks HME-specific guidance

WASHINGTON - AAHomecare is asking CMS to relax Medicare requirements for chronic lung disease to better facilitate home oxygen therapy during the coronavirus outbreak.

The association is also seeking additional guidance from CMS about the potential use of telehealth to meet Medicare requirements for face-to-face documentation and ongoing medical necessity.

“The HME community has a long track record of serving patients under adverse conditions,” the association stated in a bulletin to members. “The COVID-19 outbreak poses a unique threat to the safety of individuals in our industry and additional significant challenges if individuals needing care at home grows rapidly.”

AAHomecare is also reaching out to state Medicaid authorities and the National Association of Medicaid Directors about potentially relaxing/suspending requirements related to reauthorization for supplies and rentals.

CMS, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration has released more broadly applicable guidance related to working with patients and protecting healthcare personnel.

More recently, on March 10, CMS released more specific guidance to home health agencies and dialysis facilities.

CQRC asks CMS for concessions to protect access during coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON - The Council for Quality Respiratory Care has asked CMS to pay for home respiratory equipment, supplies and services for patient with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the CQRC also asks the agency to reduce paperwork burdens, allowing instead, the certificate of medical necessity, test results confirming a diagnosis and the prescription to be sufficient documentation. Additionally, it asks CMS to: suspend adding non-invasive ventilators from Round 2021 of competitive bidding to protect access to the therapy; prioritize the provision of personal protective equipment for home respiratory therapy suppliers; and extend the current blended rate in rural non-CBAs for at least home respiratory therapy in 2021. “CQRC would welcome the change to discuss how we can help make sure that Medicare beneficiaries who need home respiratory therapies in relation to a diagnosis of COVID-19 have access,” said Dan Starck, CQRC chairman and Apria CEO. “We stand ready to help CMS, the department and the federal government in any way we can.”

NSM acquires AARO Medical Supplies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - National Seating & Mobility has expanded its presence in the Pacific Northwest with its acquisition of AARO Medical Supplies in Aberdeen, Wash. Owner Bruce Thompson, whose parents founded the company in 1972, will transition to the NSM team as branch manager for the Aberdeen location. Two ATPs and an RTS will also join NSM. “This acquisition allows NSM to serve more individuals in Washington who rely on mobility equipment and accessibility solutions for independence,” said Bill Mixon, NSM CEO. “We are proud to welcome the AARO Medical Supplies team to the NSM family and look forward to being a part of this community.”

VGM announces Heartland schedule

WATERLOO, Iowa - VGM has announced the schedule for its annual Heartland Conference, including 70 sessions on topics such as respiratory, rehab, marketing, accessibility and business leadership. New additions to the event, June 15-17, include pre-conference sessions with registration. “The Heartland 2020 schedule has some great new additions this year,” said Jill Blaser, design and development manager at VGM Education. “We're always looking for ways to make Heartland an even more valuable experience for each attendee—from the educational sessions to the social and networking events.” Heartland also features several networking events, including community dinners. To learn more about the Heartland Conference and see the full schedule, please visit 

Spring events postponed

The ATHOMES Spring Conference, scheduled for March 19-20, has been postponed in the wake of a deadly tornado that struck Nashville, and middle and east Tennessee on March 3. A new date has not been set. Those needing a refund can email [email protected]. Otherwise, your payment can be held until the new date is announced. The NEMEP Annual Meeting, scheduled for April 1-2 in Tarrytown, N.Y., has been postponed as precaution against COVID-19. A new date and location has not been set. Members needing a refund can email [email protected]. Otherwise, payment can be held for the future meeting or NEMEP educational webinars.

NCART, NRRTS postpone Summit

WASHINGTON - NCART and NRRTS have postponed their Access2CRT Summit, originally scheduled for March 30-31 in Arlington, Va., “due to the unpredictable nature and reach of the coronavirus.” “We regret having to take this action and understand this will inconvenience registrants with travel plans in place,” the organizations stated. “However, like many across the country, we have been carefully monitoring the progression of the coronavirus and the recommendations and actions of health care, governmental and business organizations. While this was a difficult decision to make, choosing to postpone and reschedule the Summit is appropriate, given the current environment.” NCART and NRRTS are in the process of working with their event planner and the Hyatt Regency Crystal City to reschedule the Summit. They hope to share more specific details later next week.

FDA issues safety communication on CPAP cleaning devices

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety communication informing patients and health care providers that devices to clean, disinfect or sanitize CPAP devices or accessories using ozone gas or ultraviolet light are not legally marketed for this use by the FDA, so their safety and effectiveness is unknown. The FDA has identified several manufacturers that are marketing ozone gas or UV light-based products and asked them to submit data demonstrating their safety and effectiveness. “Exposure to high levels of ozone gas may worsen a patient's existing chronic respiratory diseases or increase the change of a respiratory infection,” said William H. Masel, M.D., M.P.H., director of the office of Product Evaluation and Quality in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “UV light-based products could cause burns, eye damage or increase the risk of skin cancer due to over exposure.” The FDA has received 11 reports from 2017-19 from patients experiencing cough, difficult breathing, nasal irritation, headaches, asthma attacks and other breathing complaints when they've used ozone-gas based products. It has not received any adverse event reports for UV light products. The FDA recommends consumers and health care providers follow the cleaning instructions provided by CPAP manufacturers, which normally include regular cleaning with soap and water.

Sigvaris spreads awareness

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - Sigvaris Group participated in World Lymphedema Day on March 6, helping to spread awareness and support the search for a cure. “As an advocate for the millions living with lymphedema, our company seeks to put lymphedema research front and center on the global healthcare stage through our long-standing relationships with nonprofits, researchers and the medical community,” said Barbara Osborne, CEO and president of Sigvaris Group North America. World Lymphedema Day was established in 2016 by the U.S. Senate in response to a bill written by the Lymphatic Education & Research Network. LE&RN supports education, advocacy and research for a cure.

OIG: ASP continues to exceed AMP for certain drugs

WASHINGTON - The average sales price for 11 drug codes in the third quarter of 2019 met CMS's price substitution criteria by exceeding the average manufacturer price by 5% for two consecutive quarters or three of the previous four quarters, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General. When the ASP exceeds the AMP by 5%, the Department of Health and Human Services substitutes the ASP-based amount with a lower calculated rate, either 103% of the AMP or the widely available market price, whichever is less. The OIG recommends that CMS review the information to determine whether to pursue price substitutions that would limit excessive payments for Part B drugs.

Sunrise Medical supports Team Gleason

FRESNO, Calif. - Sunrise Medical has committed to donating seat elevators to clients living with ALS that have submitted applications to and have been approved by the Team Gleason Foundation. “Our work would not be possible without the support of our partners,” said Blair Casey, assistant executive director of Team Gleason. “This collaboration will allow our team to continue meeting the extraordinary needs of the ALS community by providing products that enhance greater independence and mobility.” Clients with ALS can apply for a seat elevator here. Once an application has been submitted, Team Gleason will follow up.




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