In brief: Senator pushes crackdown, FAA approves POCs

Friday, October 26, 2012

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and healthcare advocates recently called for a crackdown on the “aggressive and misleading” marketing tactics of the power mobility device (PMD) industry, according to a press release posted to the senator’s website. On Oct. 18, at The Mary Wade Home in New Haven, Conn., Blumenthal detailed how the marketing of PMDs to senior citizens can drive up costs for consumers in the Medicare program. Blumenthal also called for tighter regulations on suppliers who he says put pressure on doctors to prescribe their products. “The federal government must redouble its efforts to crack down on the pervasive Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse associated with expensive power mobility devices, but we need to do more to address the root cause of this problem,” Blumenthal said. “Aggressive advertisements directed as seniors, which intentionally misrepresent the devices’ risks versus benefits and the Medicare coverage criteria, need to be stopped. These misleading ads elevate seniors’ expectations about the use of power wheelchairs and scooters and convince them that they need such devices even though doctors say a different course of treatment may be more medically appropriate.” PMDs account for about $606 million in annual Medicare spending. But an investigation last year by the Office of the Inspector General found that 80% of claims for PMDs did not meet Medicare criteria and should not have been paid, resulting in a loss of $492 million dollars.

FAA approves seven more portable oxygen concentrators

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved an additional seven portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) for use aboard aircraft, according to multiple reports. The newly authorized devices are the AirSep Focus, AirSep Freestyle 5, Inogen One G3, Inova Labs LifeChoice Activox, Respironics Simply Go, Precision Medical EasyPulse, and the SeQual SAROS. POCs are small devices that separate oxygen from nitrogen and other gases in the air and provide oxygen to users at greater than 90% concentration. They do not use compressed or liquid oxygen, which the government classifies as hazardous material. While the additional seven devices brings the total number of approved POCs to 21, the Department of Transportation (DOT) encourages airlines to allow the use of any POC, even if they’re not labeled as FAA-approved, because they pose no safety danger to passengers. 

Comfort Company, PDG go separate ways

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Comfort Company has severed ties with PDG Mobility. In a news item posted to its website Oct. 15, Comfort Company states, “Please be advised that effective immediately Comfort Company will no longer be acting as a strategic partner with PDG Mobility.” The two companies had announced a strategic partnership in October 2011 whereby each would sell the other’s products. PDG wheelchairs were available in the United States exclusively through Comfort Company, and Comfort Company seating and positioning products were offered through PDG. Eric Murphy, vice president of marketing at Comfort Company, had “no comment” when contacted by HME News.

One-on-one time improves CPAP compliance, research finds

ATLANTA – Two-and-a-half hours of contact time between patients and respiratory therapists (RTs) within the first 30 days of using CPAP devices increases compliance, according to new research. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente, who will present their findings this week at CHEST 2012, retrospectively reviewed the charts of 39 patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who used CPAP devices and who used a portable compliance-monitoring device. These patients had one-on-one meetings with RTs three times for a total of 150 minutes. On day 30, a 30-minute compliance evaluation review was conducted, and data was downloaded from the CPAP devices. “Results showed a 75% CPAP compliance rate after 30 days,” stated a summary of the presentation on the website of the American College of Chest Physicians, which hosts CHEST. An abstract of the findings will be published in an online supplement of the CHEST Journal.

Private equity firm acquires Premier Medical

CLEVELAND – The Riverside Co., a private equity firm based here, has acquired Premier Medical Corp., a Denver-based provider of respiratory equipment, liquid oxygen and durable medical equipment to skilled-nursing facilities in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, according to a Riverside press release. The acquisition is the fourth add-on to Riverside’s Specialized Medical Services Inc. platform company, which is based in Milwaukee. The add-on solidifies the platform as the largest provider of respiratory equipment, oxygen and related products and services to nursing homes and hospices in the United States, according to the release. PNC Financial Services and Medley Capital provided financing for the transaction.

Short takes

Invacare has announced that athletes using Top End and Kuschall wheelchairs and handcycles won more than 100 medals at the Paralympic games in August and September in London…McKesson Corp., a healthcare services and information technology company, has agreed to buy Jacksonville, Fla.-based PSS World Medical, for $1.46 billion, according to multiple reports.

People news

NAIMES has two new board members: Jeff Rose, vice president of Health System Services in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Pamela Kaehler, executive director of Mon Healthcare in Morgantown, W.Va.…The National Community Pharmacists Association has elected Donnie Calhoun as its new president. Calhoun owns two pharmacies in Anniston, Ala.