In brief: Reliable Respiratory ‘welcomes’ new vent patients, CVS-Aetna merger clears hurdle

Friday, October 12, 2018

NORWOOD, Mass. – Reliable Respiratory has acquired the ventilation business of New Bedford, Mass.–based Enos Home Medical.

“Ventilator care is one of the most intensive and highest acuity lines of home care for patients,” said Eric Mongeau, vice president of sales and marketing at Reliable Respiratory in a press release. “We understand the complexities of caring for these patients, and take great pride in meeting their clinical and personal needs. We are pleased to welcome Enos’ ventilator patients in our family.”

The deal is the latest in a growth spurt for Reliable Respiratory. In June, it acquired Mount Auburn Hospital DME in Cambridge, Mass., and in August, it launched Integrate Vent Solutions to serve as the exclusive New England distributor of the VOCSN, a portable device that combines a ventilator, oxygen concentrator, cough assist, suction and nebulizer into one unified system.

The deal will allow Enos to focus on its core services, including hospice and nursing services.

“Our patients’ best interests are always a driving factor in our business decisions,” said CEO Jon Enos, in a press release. “And, it is with great confidence and assurance that we have selected Reliable Respiratory to care for our ventilation patients moving forward. We know they will receive the latest technology and the highest quality care. It also feels good to know our vent patients are going from one-family owned company to another.” 

Reliable Respiratory started in 1991 and has grown from 21 employees and one office to more than 120 employees serving New England from locations in Springfield and Worcester, Mass.; Merrimack, N.H.; White River Junction, Vt.; and South Portland, Maine. Reliable Respiratory offers sleep therapy, ventilation, oxygen, nebulizers and breast pumps.

CVS-Aetna deal clears major hurdle

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday approved the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna.

The deal, which is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter of 2018, is still subject to state regulatory approvals, many of which have been granted, according to a press release.

"DOJ clearance is an important step toward bringing together the strengths and capabilities of our two companies to improve the consumer health care experience," said CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo. "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the DOJ that maintains the strategic benefits and value creation potential of our combination with Aetna. We are now working to complete the remaining state reviews."

The deal, first announced in December 2017, has been touted by the companies as a way to increase customer access and create a more personalized healthcare experience. CVS currently operates more than 9,700 pharmacy locations and 1,100 MinuteClinic walk-in clinics.

Following the close of the transaction, Aetna will operate as a standalone business within the CVS Health enterprise and will be led by members of its current management team.

AirAvant device receives FDA clearance

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – AirAvant Medical has received 510(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for its Bongo Rx. Used in the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, the Bongo Rx has been shown to significantly reduce AHI levels, according to a press release. The device is small and portable, and requires no PAP machine, hoses, headgear or electricity; it seals comfortably in the nose and works by creating backpressure when the user exhales. “We recognize that people need to have the ability to treat their sleep apnea comfortably and conveniently, no matter where they are—in a bed, on a train, on a plane, or even catching a quick nap in a chair or on the couch,” said Javier Collazo, vice president. The Bongo Rx will be featured in the New Product Pavilion at Medtrade in Atlanta next week.

Long-term oxygen therapy: Not so beneficial after all?

CHICAGO – Long-term oxygen therapy does not decrease the risk of hospitalization or increase life expectancy for patients with mild to moderate COPD, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic. It also may lower their quality of life, according to the study, which was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The most current research indicates that patients with mild to moderate hypoxemia do not benefit from oxygen therapy, outside of a reduced feeling of breathlessness. However, researchers say that measure is subjective and could be a placebo effect. Also, oxygen concentrator systems typically come in a shoulder bag, weighing about 5 pounds—not an insignificant amount of weight for someone who might be frail and easily exhausted. "It is a huge shortcoming of medicine that we still cannot identify which patients will benefit from oxygen therapy," says Dr. Agrwal. "We know some definitely do, but many more are likely not getting any meaningful treatment."

Respiratory groups issue rallying cry

CHICAGO – The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, American Lung Association, COPD Foundation and the American Association of Respiratory Care are asking individuals to call their lawmakers and ask them to support a proposed rule from CMS that would increase their access to liquid oxygen. Ever since reduced reimbursement went into effect as part of the competitive bidding program and the number of companies offering liquid oxygen subsequently dwindled, individuals who were on portable liquid oxygen have had difficulty obtaining more tanks. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is also asking CMS to removed liquid oxygen from the bidding process entirely. The foundation has also created a new oxygen information line (844-825-5733) where individuals can call with questions about dosage, different forms, insurance questions and more.

CMS suspends certain requirements in hurricane’s wake

WASHINGTON – CMS will temporarily suspend certain requirements for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or sustained damage to the DMEPOS as a result of Hurricane Michael. This will help ensure beneficiaries can access the equipment and supplies they need, according to the announcement. The Category 4 storm made landfall in the Florida Panhandle Oct. 10. Medicare beneficiaries can call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance.

Hurricane Florence: AvaCare, FODAC, ACHA

Lakewood, N.J.-based AvaCare Medical recently donated $1 from each order placed during a five-day period in September to the Friends of Disabled Adults and Children’s relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Florence. “With the onset of Hurricane Florence, we understood the need for DME and other products to be sent to emergency shelters, and we were thankful to have the opportunity to give back to our consumers by working with FODAC to promote their cause and partially fund their efforts,” said CEO Steven Zeldes in an email to HME News…Tucker, Ga.-based FODAC and SunTrust Bank have partnered to hold HME collection drives at several locations in north Atlanta on Oct. 20, with some of the equipment earmarked for those recovering from Hurricane Florence. FODAC will refurbish and redistribute the equipment. The collections will take place at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores in Marietta and Lawrenceville, and at NextStep Atlanta in Alpharetta. Equipment that is especially needed includes adaptive strollers, manual and power wheelchairs, and walkers…Cary, N.C.-based Accreditation Commission for Health Care is donating $10,000 to Direct Relief to assist with aid and recovery efforts in response to destruction from Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina. “We stand in full support of our friends, neighbors and caregivers here in the Carolinas who have been affected by this massive storm,” said ACHC President and CEO Jose Domingos. Direct Relief collaborates with clinics all over the world to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medicines and supplies to help care for survivors of disasters who face enormous hardship to recover.

Award winners: VGM Insurance, NCPA’s Jim Spoon

Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM Insurance Services has been named one of Business Insurance Magazines’s Best Places to Work for 2018. The award recognizes employers for their outstanding performance in establishing workplaces where employees can thrive, enjoy their work and help their companies grow. Harrisburg, Pa.-based Best Companies Group identifies the leading employers in the insurance industry by assessing each company following an analysis of policies, practices and demographics, as well as a review of confidential employee surveys…Jim Spoon, PharmD, owner of Spoon Drug in Sand Springs, Okla., has been named the National Community Pharmacists Association 2018 Willard B. Simmons Independent Pharmacist of the year. Spoon received the award, sponsored by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, at NCPA’s recent annual convention in Boston. The award recognizes an independent pharmacist for exemplary leadership and commitment to independent pharmacy and their community. It is named in honor or Simmons, a former executive secretary of NCPA and a long-time trustee of the NCPA Foundation.

Vendors in the news: Invacare, Allegiance

Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare has extended its Brandville license to continue building out its growing live video program. Invacare uses Brandlive, a platform for interactive video, for live training broadcasts, interactive marketing experiences and clinical education courses. The opportunity for “virtual” CEU courses, in particular, played a major role in Invacare’s decision to renew with Brandville, with the company planning to start offering these courses later this year…Overland Park, Kan.-based Allegiance Group has expanded its IT team with Robert McCabe as CIO. McCabe will work closely with IT and account managers to develop and maintain the strategic roadmap for the company’s products. He has more than 20 years of experience in client services for DST Systems.

Aeroflow named to top 40 in NC

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has received the North Carolina Mid-Market Fast 40 Award. Each year, the award recognizes 40 businesses in the state that demonstrated sustained revenue and employment growth over the previous three years. Honorees are headquartered in North Carolina and achieve annual net revenues between $10 million and $500 million. In 2017, Aeroflow Healthcare recorded record sales revenue and 17% job growth, and purchased and renovated a 35,000-square-foot distribution facility, called the Hite Fulfillment Center in Asheville. The provider has also been named an Inc. 5000 fastest growing company.

PFF ramps up education

CHICAGO – The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has launched a new educational website: The website educates individuals about the deadly disease and provides a downloadable Pulmonary Fibrosis Risk List Worksheet to help them facilitate conversations about symptoms and risk factors with their providers. The website also offers a way to find a local pulmonologist with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis through the PFF Care Center Network. More than 200,000 Americans are living with the disease, according to the PFF.