In brief: Senate readies letter on accessories, Sunrise adds ‘complementary’ biz

Friday, August 7, 2015

WASHINGTON – The deadline has been extended until Aug. 10 for senators to sign on to a letter asking CMS to continue paying for accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs at the fee schedule, not the competitive bidding, rate.

At press time, 14 senators had signed on to the letter.

Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., have taken the lead on the letter.

“Congress specifically excluded complex rehabilitative wheelchairs and related accessories from the Medicare DME competitive bidding program when it approved the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008,” they write. “It is our view that applying competitive bidding pricing to complex rehabilitative wheelchair accessories is inconsistent with the intent of MIPPA 2008 and contrary to CMS policies.”

Cochran and Schumer, like stakeholders, argue that the change in pricing could reduce access to complex rehab wheelchairs and accessories for a small population of Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities.

The change in pricing, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, could mean a 20% to 50% reduction in reimbursement for accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs.

“We encourage CMS to issue written clarification that accessories used with complex rehabilitative wheelchairs will continue to be paid at Medicare established fee schedule amounts,” Cochran and Schumer write.

A similar letter has already circulated in the House of Representatives and attracted more than 100 signatures.

Additionally, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has introduced a bill that would provide a technical correction to prevent CMS from applying competitive bid pricing to accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs.

Sunrise adds ‘complementary’ business

FRESNO, Calif. – Sunrise Medical has acquired Handicare’s mobility business. The acquisition is limited to mobility products such as wheelchairs, scooters and rollators, according to a press release. The Helmond, Netherlands-based Handicare has divisions in several countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Canada. "Sunrise Medical has seen very strong growth over the past five years, organically and by way of strategically important and successful acquisitions,” said Thomas Rossnagel, president and CEO of Sunrise Medical. “This business is highly complementary to Sunrise Medical's, geographically as well as from a product perspective.” Sunrise Medical was acquired by Nordic Capital in June.

ResMed grows presence in China

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Curative Medical, a manufacturer of non-invasive ventilation and sleep disordered breathing medical devices and accessories in China. The deal will expand ResMed’s presence in China’s significant and fast-growing respiratory medical device market and boost its global product platform, according to a press release. When the deal is complete, ResMed China and Curative Medical will retain their operational independence and continue to invest in R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales teams in China. Curative Medical will maintain its name, brands and offerings. Its employees, including founder and CEO Jason Sun, will continue as members of the combined ResMed and Curative Medical team. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

OIG: CMS could have saved $7.6M on diabetic test strips

WASHINGTON – The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that CGS Administrators made Medicare payments for diabetic test strips when beneficiaries had not exhausted previously dispensed supplies. Based on sample results, the OIG estimates that $7.6 million or 74% of the $10.3 million that CGS paid to suppliers may have been unallowable for Medicare reimbursement. “These potential overpayments occurred because CGS’s system edit was not designed to identify for review claims submitted by multiple suppliers with overlapping service dates for test strips dispensed to the same beneficiary,” the OIG states. “Rather, the system was designed to identify claims with a quantity of test strips that exceeded the utilization guidelines.” The OIG sampled 100 line items and found that 12 were allowable; 17 were non-errors because the suppliers were no longer in business and the supporting documentation could not be obtained for review; and 71 may not have been allowable because the suppliers dispensed test strips sooner than 10 calendar days before the expected end of usage for the current product. For almost half of the 71 line items that may not have been allowable, the suppliers dispensed test strips when there were more than 60 days remaining in the beneficiaries’ existing supplies. The OIG recommends that CGS implement a system edit to identify for review claims submitted by multiple suppliers with overlapping service dates for test strips dispensed to the same beneficiary.

O&P groups push back on LCDs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics has launched a petition asking the White House to rescind new draft LCDs for O&P. The petition states: “We petition the Obama Administration to rescind the Medicare proposal restricting access to prosthetic limbs and returning amputees to 1970s standards of care.” In July, the four DME MACS released draft LCDs with a number of proposed changes, including requiring a face-to-face visit, and requiring patients to complete rehab programs before they can obtain prosthetic devices. The LCDs also seek to consolidate many O&P codes into one code.

The petition must gather 100,000 signatures within 30 days to receive a response from White House staff. It currently has 31,563. The petition is one of several new efforts from the O&P community to fight the proposed changes. The American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association announced on Twitter today that it plans a protest on Aug. 26 at the Department of Health and Human Services building.

Familiar face takes helm at NHIA

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Tyler Wilson has been named president and CEO of the National Home Infusion Association. He succeeds Russell Bodoff, who retired Aug. 7 after eight years at the helm of the association. Wilson is best known in the HME industry for his tenure at the American Association for Homecare, where he served as president and CEO from 2006 to 2013. Most recently, he was executive director of the National Association for Proton Therapy. He also served as executive director of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association for six years.

BOC group examines exams

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Board of Certification/Accreditation recently convened a group of experts to review and update content for its exams. The group was comprised of experts from the two national orthotic and prosthetics credentialing organizations, educators and other medical professionals, according to a press release. “The dynamic nature of the O&P and Durable Medical Equipment (DME) fields necessitates periodic reviews of our examinations,” said Wendy Miller, BOC’s chief credentialing officer, who organized and participated in the meeting.

Invacare supports senior veterans

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare will sponsor the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Omaha Aug. 8-12. In its 29th year, the games are the only national multi-event sports and recreational competition program designed to improve the quality of life for senior veterans, according to a press release. “Seeing these veterans compete and be active is really living the Invacare brand promise—‘Making Life’s Experiences Possible,’” said Dean Childers, senior vice president and general manager, North America, in the release. Senior veterans will travel from across the country to compete in sports like swimming, cycling, horseshoes, bowling and air rifles.

iPush, At Home Medical donate wheelchair

CUMMING, Ga. – The iPush Foundation has named the winner of its “Wheelin’ for the Holidays” contest: 9-year-old Alexis Taylor of Plant City, Fla. As part of the online contest, iPush asked wheelchair users what they pushed for and why they needed new wheels. Alexis, who was born with Spina Bifida and has gone through 26 surgeries, told iPush she wanted a purple wheelchair that went fast. She received just that: a custom-fit Eagle wheelchair built by Eagle Sportschairs and donated by At Home Medical. At Home Medical financially supports the iPush Foundation.

Convaid reps get certified

TORRANCE, Calif. – Several business development representatives throughout Convaid’s 11 regional territories in North America have earned certification as Child Passenger Safety Technicians by the National Child Passenger Safety Board. The certification qualifies the reps to assess and evaluate car seat configurations for children. The National Child Passenger Safety Board was established to provide program direction and technical guidance to states, communities and organizations as a means to maintain a credible, standardized child passenger training and certification program. The certification is part of an ongoing push by Convaid to keep its workforce highly trained and on top of latest industry regulations, standards and practices.

People in the news from NSM, Handicare

Nashville-based National Seating & Mobility has appointed Steve Penny as CIO. Penny comes to NSM from Nashville-based Ardent Health Services, where he served as chief technology officer. The appointment allows Bill Noelting, who has held the dual positions of CIO and vice president of marketing, to focus solely on marketing. Penny will focus on IT infrastructure services and architecture, including operations and security, network management and voice communications…Handicare US has named Tom Rolick, formerly of Permobil, as CEO. During his more than 20 years at Permobil, Rolick built one of the industry’s most respected and successful sales teams, according to a press release. Hans Sigvardsson will remain with Handicare and will focus on key accounts.