In brief: Providers receive guidance, Strike Force strikes again

Sunday, May 11, 2008

WASHINGTON - The DME Medicare Administrative Contractors last week published an FAQ on CMS's ATS requirement and a bulletin on repairs for power wheelchairs.

To view the FAQ on ATSs, go to:

To view the bulletin on repairs, go to:

Strike Force strikes again
LOS ANGELES - Officials last week arrested 11 people suspected of falsely billing Medicare for $13 million, the result of an investigation that began in March. Charges against the defendants include conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, advising or participating in a scheme to defraud a health care benefit program and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, many of the defendants face up to 10 years in prison. All indictments also seek forfeiture of the criminal proceeds. In addition to last week's arrests, the Strike Force has uncovered $420 million in fraudulent claims and indicted 130 individuals in 76 cases in the Miami-Dade County, Fla., area. The program plans to ramp up operations in Texas this summer.

Apria, AHP report earnings
LAKE FOREST, Calif., and BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - Apria on May 1 reported $528 million in revenues for the first quarter ended March 31, 2008, compared to $390.8 million in revenues for the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $20.8 million, which the provider described as "flat" compared to last year. Additionally, Apria boosted its expected impact on revenues of Medicare price reductions for certain respiratory drugs in 2008 by $12 million...American HomePatient on May 1 reported $69.2 million in revenues for the first quarter, a decrease of $7.7 million from the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $554,000 compared to $1 million last year.

Invacare launches iPartner Solutions
ELYRIA, Ohio - Invacare last week launched iPartner Solutions, a growing suite of programs and services designed to help providers simplify their business, reduce their costs, optimize their resources and improve their bottom line. iPartner Solutions will help providers respond to the challenges of national competitive bidding, escalating operating costs and changing Medicare reimbursement, the manufacturer stated in a release. The iPartner Solutions portfolio includes Bonafide Management System, a software solution that helps providers operate their business more efficiently; Roadrunner Mobility and the 5-Star Service Plan, a nationwide network of technicians focused on repair of consumer power wheelchairs; a rebuild service for high-dollar items like wheelchair joysticks and controllers; and a full range of replacement parts.

NSM hosts 'a real rehab show'
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - National Seating & Mobility's 122 RTSs attended the provider's annual symposium April 30-May 4 to brush up on education and to visit with 50 exhibitors. At this year's event, held at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort here, NSM divided RTSs into several groups so they could attend smaller-sized workshops. The workshops covered everything from collaborating with physicians to setting up clinics. "In years past--when you have endless general sessions, people tend to go to sleep," said Bill Noelting, NSM's vice president of marketing. "This was a way, every hour and a half, to get people moving. Smaller groups lend themselves to better questions and answers and better interactions with presenters." This year, NSM also dedicated one full day to visiting with exhibitors instead of parts of two days.

Health systems combine DME forces
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - Two health systems have merged their DME operations under the name MedCare Equipment Co., according to an article in the May 2 Tribune-Democrat. Conemaugh Health Systems in Johnstown and Excela Health in Greensburg expect MedCare to gross $24 million in sales in its first year, a 14% increase over current combined operations. "The sum of the parts is greater than the whole, in this case," said Conemaugh CEO Scott Becker. "Regional is the new local." The merger will result in five job losses split between the two companies.

Sepracor settles Xopenex dispute
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. - Sepracor, maker of COPD drug Xopenex, settled a patent dispute with Breath Ltd., a subsidiary of Arrow Group, according to a May press release. Per an agreement, Breath can launch generic versions of certain dosages of Xopenex beginning Aug. 20, 2012. Breath will pay Sepracor double-digit royalties on the gross profits of the generics. Sepracor also agreed to supply certain Xopenex products to Breath exclusively for 180 days beginning Aug. 20, 2012, and non-exclusively for a period of time afterward. If a third party launches a generic version of those Xopenex dosages, the settlement and license agreement between Sepracor and Breath could go into effect sooner.