In brief: Senate questions CMS, Meuser loses House race

Sunday, April 27, 2008

WASHINGTON - Seven Republican senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services last week outlining their concerns about national competitive bidding and demanding a meeting with Secretary Michael Leavitt. The senators--George Voinivich of Ohio; Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania; Pat Roberts of Kansas; Richard Burr of North Carolina; Johnny Isakson of Georgia; John Cornyn of Texas; and Jim DeMint of South Carolina--state that DHS should address several concerns before moving forward with future rounds of the program. The concerns: providers were unfairly disqualified from the program; some providers won bids for areas that are thousands of miles away from their headquarters and they don't have time before July 1, 2008, to subcontract with local providers; and the lack of transparency concerning how CMS evaluated bidder financial information and service capacity.

Pride president loses House bid
EXETER, Pa. - In his race to win the Republican nomination for the 10th District of Pennsylvania, Pride President Dan Meuser heavily outspent opponent Chris Hackett but still lost the April 22 primary, 52% to 48%, according to various media reports. Spending in the race was lavish. Meuser loaned his campaign more than $1.8 million; Hackett loaned his about $790,000. Combined, the two men spent about $1.2 million on television commercials. Meuser, who took a leave of absence to run for office, campaigned on a conservative platform and promised to be a staunch supporter of the HME industry in Washington. Hackett now faces incumbent Chris Carney, a Democrat, in what should be one of the most closely contested Congressional campaigns in the fall.

NASDAQ gives Rotech the boot
ORLANDO, Fla. - First, the NASDAQ kicked Rotech Healthcare off its Global Market listing, and now, it's kicking the provider off its Capital Market listing. The NASDAQ notified Rotech on April 17 that the provider failed to meet the following Capital Market listing requirement: a minimum of $2.5 million in stockholders' equity or $35 million market value of listed securities or $500,000 of net income from continuing operations for the most recently completed fiscal year or two of the three most recently completed fiscal years. Unless Rotech appeals, the NASDAQ will suspend trading of its common stock on April 28 and file a form with the Securities and Exchange Commission to delist the provider.

Medtrade sponsors industry events
ATLANTA - Nielsen Business Media, producer of Medtrade and Medtrade Spring, will sponsor AAHomecare's Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade Spring on May 6 and a continental breakfast at the association's legislative fly-in on May 21.

AAH, UPitt hold wheelchair workshop
PITTSBURGH - AAHomecare and the University of Pittsburgh will team up next month for the "first national program" on standard and power wheelchair documentation. The program, scheduled May 29 at UPitt, aims to "take participants through a virtual physician evaluation and clinical assessment documentation process," AAHomecare CEO Tyler Wilson stated in a release last week. Presenters at the program include Dr. Paul Hughes, medical director for Jurisdiction A; and Dr. Brad Dicianno, medical director for the Center for Assistive Technology and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UPitt's Medical Center. Registration for the program costs $250 per person. For more info, contact AAHomecare's Kim Kianka at 703-535-1887.

Medicare could widen generation gap
WAHSINGTON - Medicare is a ticking time bomb, warns Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt in the April 25 edition of The $400 billion program will place huge financial burdens on younger taxpayers as tens of millions of baby boomers join its rolls. That could divide generations. "My father, even today who is quite successful and still earns a fair amount of money, gets unlimited health care that the taxpayers pay for," said Leavitt. "I have two sons who are just buying homes, are just starting families and are struggling to do all of that. They are paying taxes to support my father who makes a lot more money than either one of them. They are paying taxes to support his unlimited health care. That's hard for me to justify." By 2028, it is estimated that there will be only two earners for every Medicare beneficiary, compared to four earners today, said Leavitt.

Ambulatory market to reach $1.8B, analysts say
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The global ambulatory and bathroom aids market will reach $1.8 billion by 2010, according to report released last week by Global Industry Analysts. Driving the growth: a steadily aging population and a rise in diseases associated with advancing age, analysts stated. Walkers represent the fastest growing item in the ambulatory and bathroom aids market, with a compounding annual growth rate of 7%. Analysts forecast patient seating and positioning aids to generate $67.2 million by 2010, and bathroom aids to reach $105.8 million by 2009. The United States and Europe make up about 70% of the growing ambulatory and bathroom aids market, but Asia Pacific "is likely to emerge as the most lucrative market, registering fastest in value and volume," analysts stated.

Computer program helps COPD patients breathe
HINES, Ill. - Researchers believe a computer program they're developing can help COPD patients breathe easier. The computer program aims to help prevent patients who are exercising from trapping air in their lungs, reducing their breathing efficiency. Researchers at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, who reported their findings in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, tested 64 patients in three groups: exercise only; exercise plus ventilation feedback (VF); and VF only. For patients on VF, researchers set goals and patients, who could see their speed and depth of breathing on a screen, inhaled more slowly and exhaled more completely to reach those goals. Researchers found: Patients in the exercise and VF group showed significant improvements in exercise duration and a greater reduction in exercise-induced hyperinflation.