In brief: Providers tackle weather, stand up for home care

Sunday, April 5, 2009

FARGO, N.D. - HME providers in this area aren't strangers to bad weather, but in late March, they battled flooding rains one week, and a blizzard the next. As a result, providers like Fargo-based MeritCare/HealthCare Accessories were in full emergency response mode. They contacted hundreds of oxygen patients to make sure they had enough contents to get through three or four days without deliveries. They stocked delivery trucks with equipment, in case they had to abandon their Fargo branches. "We also had our delivery techs split up, two on each side of the river, so they could better reach patients," said Lori Morin, an operations manager for MeritCare/HealthCare Accessories. "They had a tough enough time getting around, as it was. They were stopped by police; they had to show them their IDs and tell them where they were going." By April 1, however, the Red River had receded below most sandbag levees and the snow had stopped falling.

Providers stand up for homecare

LAS VEGAS - Despite an economic recession and industry uncertainty, the HME community dug deep into its pockets and raised $35,000 in March to boost public awareness of HME issues. AAHomecare's fourth Stand Up for Homecare reception, held at Medtrade, drew 200 attendees. "It was an enthusiastic crowd," said Michael Reinemer, vice president of communications and policy for the association. "I think people realize the importance of being aggressive about getting our message out. We need to have a program lined up and it needs to be funded." So far, the receptions have raised about $177,000. In January, AAHomecare hired Rational PR to further its efforts, which have included telephone press conferences and feature articles placed in the mainstream media.

Senator postpones hearing

WASHINGTON - The Senate hearing on national competitive bidding scheduled for April 1 was postponed. Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller, D-West Va.--described as "a competitive bidding friendly guy"--planned to host the hearing as chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. But with a confirmation hearing for Kathleen Sebelius, nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, on April 2 and a congressional recess scheduled for the next two weeks, the issue was squeezed off the agenda. AAHomecare continues to lobby for an invitation to testify at the hearing, when and if it does take place, according to Michael Reinemer, the association's vice president of communications and policy. "Whether we're invited or not, we'll submit a statement to the committee outlining the association's views," he said.

FLA Orthopedics trims down

MIRAMAR, Fla. - FLA Orthopedics will cut 163 manufacturing jobs between May 29 and Sept. 30, according to a notice filed with the state last week. FLA manufactures compression hosiery, diabetic shoes and other home medical equipment. It was acquired by BSN Medical of Germany in 2007. FLA relocated to Miramar from Miami Lakes and consolidated its manufacturing and distribution facilities in 2000.

Competitive bidding makes comeback

PITTSBURGH and CLEVELAND - Industry advocacy efforts surrounding national competitive bidding heat up this month. With Medicare's competitive bidding rule going into effect April 18, at least two state associations have scheduled events to raise awareness among lawmakers about the flawed program. The Pennsylvania Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (PAMS), in conjunction with the Western Pennsylvania Home Medical Equipment Providers Council, will hold an "HME Survival Summit" on April 6. For more info, visit The following week, the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services (OAMES) will host public forums in Cincinnati (April 15) and Cleveland (April 16). For more info, visit

Bowen, provider participate in healthcare summit

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Beth Bowen, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Medical Equipment Services (NCAMES), and provider Joey Tart attended the healthcare summit in North Carolina March 31. Although they weren't able to make comments, Bowen and Tart submitted a written comment to Gov. Bev Perdue, who hosted the summit. Nancy-Ann DeParle, head of the new White House Office of Health Reform, attended the summit. She told the crowd of 800 that President Barack Obama is committed to tackling healthcare reform this year.

AAHomecare hosts legislative conference

ARLINGTON, Va. - The AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference will take place June 1-3 at the Capital Hilton. The deadline for early bird registration: April 8. The conference offers educational opportunities and visits to Capitol Hill. "A new administration and Congress mean new challenges for HME--along with many of the old ones returning: competitive bidding, threats to oxygen therapy, medical supplies and power mobility," AAHomecare stated in a bulletin to members. For more information and to register, go to

MED changes date for Rehab Summit

LUBBOCK, Texas - The MED Group has changed the dates for its National Rehab Network Summit in Denver to May 19 and 20. MED made the change to take advantage of better travel and hotel rates for attendees, according to a release.