In brief: Sebelius steps down, QMES obtains financing
WASHINGTON – Kathleen Sebelius has resigned after serving five years as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to replace Sebelius, news organizations report. The Senate will have to confirm Burwell, who was approved by a 96-0 vote to take the helm at OMB last year. During her tenure at HHS, Sebelius made Medicare fraud prevention a priority. In 2009, Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder formed the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT); and expanded the scope of Strike Force operations. Sebelius’s tenure was marked by heavy criticism of her department’s messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace exchanges.
Consumer-facing campaign kicks off
WASHINGTON – In the first 24 hours after AAHomecare officially launched its “SaveMyMedicalSupplies” campaign with a website and Facebook and twitter pages, it generated 725 letters to Congress. The campaign is designed to educate consumers about how Medicare reform mistakes are impacting their medical needs. The website explains coverage criteria and reform challenges to consumers in a way that’s easy to understand, and empowers them with tools to contact their lawmakers. The campaign is targeted at consumers who have cerebral palsy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, spinal cord injury and other medical conditions. AAHomecare is asking providers and manufacturers to follow SaveMyMedicalSupplies on Facebook and twitter; share or retweet posts from the campaign on their social media pages; and share links to condition-specific pages from the website and social media in their newsletters, blogs and other consumer-facing online resources.
QMES repositions with $50M in financing
NEW YORK – QMES, a distributor of DME in nine states, has secured a $50 million senior secured credit facility from CIT Corporate Finance, Healthcare. QMES will use the facility to refinance legacy debt and provide for ongoing working capital needs, according to a press release. “QMES has an impressive track record of growth having completed 10 acquisitions since 2012 and effectively establishing itself as one of the largest medical equipment home delivery companies on the East Coast," stated William Douglass, managing director and group head of CIT Corporate Finance, Healthcare, a provider of financing and advisory services to small businesses and middle-market companies. QMES is a portfolio company of Quadrant Management, a New York-based private equity and restructuring firm. LMI is also a portfolio company of the firm. QMES distributes medical supplies to patients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and Rhode Island. It was created in 2012 through various acquisitions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Medicare Advantage plans avoid chopping block
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has once again reversed its position on cutting reimbursement for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. CMS announced this week that reimbursement for MA plans in 2015 would rise, on average, 0.4%, according to news reports. Obama had previously proposed a reduction of, on average, 1.9%. The administration did a similar about-face last year. It proposed a cut of 2.3% for 2014 and ended up increasing reimbursement by 3.3%. Insurers, along with a broad swath of lawmakers, lobbied the government to keep reimbursement level.
HHS releases physician pay data
WASHINGTON – The Department of Health and Human Services has released data on the services physicians provide to Medicare beneficiaries and how much they are paid. In the release is data from more than 880,000 healthcare providers who received $77 billion in Medicare payments in 2012 under the Part B fee-for-service program, according to an April 9 release. “Data transparency is a key aspect of transformation of the healthcare delivery system,” said CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “While there’s more work ahead, this data release will help beneficiaries and consumers better understand how care is delivered through the Medicare program.”
Maryland streamlines DME licensure requirements
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland lawmakers passed a pair of bills to remove the pharmacy licensure requirement for DME, the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association (MNCHA) announced April 8. DME providers in the state are licensed by the Office of Healthcare Quality as residential service agencies, but were also subject to pharmacy licensure requirements by the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, according to a release. In 2013, DME licensing fees increased from $500 per year to $3,000 every three years; and providers were required to pay pharmacy licensing fees of $700 per year for the first year and $600 every year thereafter; and have a full-time pharmacist on staff. “Durable medical equipment providers across the country are being systematically dismantled by the CMS competitive bidding program, claims audits and appeal delays,” said MNCHA president Gwen Turner. “Streamlined licensure allows providers to focus on giving the highest quality equipment and service to their patients instead of filling out state-mandated paperwork.” The law is set to take effect June 1.
Lawmaker tours GF manufacturing facility
ATLANTA – GF Health Products hosted a delegation led by U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., at its manufacturing facility in Fond du Lac, Wis., on March 31. Petri toured the newly expanded facility and spoke with some of its 125-plus employees. “In our discussions, Rep. Petri said he was excited to see the investment GF has made in high-tech manufacturing equipment and the increase in employment that has taken place at our Fond du Lac facility,” stated Ken Spett, CEO of GF, in a press release. Petri was concerned about the impact of the medical device tax and other regulations on GF’s growth. “We assured him that we are committed to increasing our investment in manufacturing in the United States,” Spett stated.
Vendor short takes: ARI to ring NASDAQ bell
Milwaukee-based ARI Network Services, provider of data-driven software tools and marketing services, will ring the NASDAQ Stock Market’s closing bell April 14 … Minneapolis-based Ottobock will relocate its fabrication and service operations from Minneapolis to a 52,700-square-foot facility in Salt Lake City, it announced recently. In March, the medical device manufacturer announced it would relocate its North America distribution operations to Louisville, Ky. …Chattanooga, Tenn.–based Allied Management Solutions, an HME management and consulting company, has signed an agreement with Amerinet to provide a variety of solutions to its members. Amerinet partners with healthcare facilities to help them maximize efficiency, trim overall costs and provide unique revenue-generating opportunities.
Provider short takes: VMI, Burmans, Med-Care
Phoenix-based Vantage Mobility International (VMI) has been named an Official Vehicle Mobility Partner of AMVETS, an organization that supports veterans and active-duty military personnel in procuring earned entitlements, according to a release … Burmans Medical Supplies has launched an outreach campaign aimed at the growing number of catheter users. The Brookhaven, Pa.-based Burmans offers discreet service and carries all the leading product brands … Med-Care Diabetic and Medical Supplies has launched its first-ever national television advertising campaign, according to a release. The campaign will air on ABC, CBS and CNN. The Boca-Raton, Fla.-based provider is a national mail-order contract supplier for Medicare.