In brief: Seven more sign on, ResMed takes new action

Friday, July 26, 2013

WASHINGTON – In the wake of the industry’s recent virtual fly-in, H.R. 1717 has picked up an additional seven co-sponsors, bringing the current total to 144. The bill, which was introduced April 24 by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., would repeal the competitive bidding program and replace it with a market-pricing program (MPP). “Shoring up that support is important,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “Feeding lawmakers information about the beneficiary impacts—that’s all the focus right now.” The virtual fly-in, held July 18, garnered 3,350 emails, and likely, thousands of phone calls.

ResMed takes new action against BMC Medical/3B Medical

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has filed new legal action in the International Trade Commission (ITC) and an amended complaint in U.S. federal court to stop the alleged infringement of its patents by BMC Medical and 3B Products, according to a press release. BMC Medical is a Chinese medical device manufacturer and 3B Products is its U.S. sales subsidiary. ResMed asserts patents for the following products have been infringed upon: the RESmart CPAP and RESmart Auto CPAP devices, and the Willow nasal pillows patient interface and the iVolve nasal mask. ResMed is asking the ITC to stop BMC Medical and 3B Products from importing and selling these products in the United States. ResMed has also amended a pending action in the U.S. federal court to assert alleged additional patent infringement by BMC Medical and 3B Products. ResMed is asking the court to stop the infringement and to award damages against BMC Medical and 3B Products.

Drive Medical agrees to hold back two masks

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive Medical announced July 23 that it has agreed to stop importing and selling certain CPAP masks as part of a consent order approved July 19 by the International Trade Commission (ITC). Drive Medical has agreed to stop importing and selling the Freedom 210 and Freedom 220 CPAP masks, two products that ResMed argues infringe on patents. “Drive respects the intellectual property rights of all third parties and is conducting an investigation as to the patent claims asserted by ResMed as part of a separate lawsuit pending in California,” the company stated in a press release. “Drive is continuing to offer a wide variety of CPAP masks to its customer base.”

Brightree, Strategic AR integrate solutions

ATLANTA and OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Brightree has formed a relationship with Strategic AR to facilitate a more streamlined patient collection and payment posting experience, according to a press release. Strategic AR is a software and services company focused on helping HME providers automate patient billing workflows and collections using not only traditional mail, but also voice response and online technologies. As part of the relationship, Brightree and Strategic AR will integrate their solutions, allowing users to “easily and accurately identify patients who need to be contacted, reduce staff time associated with posting payments and provide a seamless experience for patients online,” according to the release. The two companies will also work together on joint marketing and product development initiatives.

DHS expands into two bid areas

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Dynamic Healthcare Services (DHS) announced July 25 that it was awarded contracts to service oxygen patients in the northern New Jersey and Huntington-Ashland (WV-KY-OH) competitive bidding areas as part of Round 2 of the program. DHS is pursuing new oxygen subcontracts and various acquisition opportunities in these two bid areas. “With these new competitive bid contracts, we will expand our focus into northern New Jersey and the Huntington-Ashland markets and continue to explore new HME sales, subcontracting and acquisition opportunities,” stated Michael Holloway, president of GMH Ventures, the parent company of DHS, in a press release.

Stakeholders donate to fund to stop bidding

WASHINGTON – Eleven stakeholders have contributed to AAHomecare’s “STOP Competitive Bidding Fund,” the association reported in a July 24 bulletin. The donors are: Barnes Healthcare Services, Brown & Fortunato, First Choice Medical, Home Medical Express, Invacare, MK Battery, PhilCare Home Medical Equipment, Respicare of Central Florida, The MED Group, Vistacare Health Services and Smith & Nephew. Stakeholders that contribute $200 or more, if they choose to, are included in a list of donors on AAHomecare’s website. The association expects to spend in excess of $180,000 on a legal challenge to stop competitive bidding. The fund will help to cover these legal costs.

Margolis to retire from NRRTS

LUBBOCK, Texas – NRRTS Executive Director Simon Margolis will retire Aug. 30, the registry announced July 24. He will stay on as a part-time consultant through the end of the year. Weesie Walker, past-president of NRRTS, will take on the position of interim executive director. “Simon’s vision for our organization in its infancy and leadership over the past seven years has shaped NRRTS as it is today,” stated Michele Gunn, NRRTS president, in a release. “He will be missed more than he knows but needs now to care for himself as he has done for our industry for the past 35 years. We will carry on, and I can think of no one better than Weesie Walker to help us continue our mission.”

CMS announces improvements to PECOS system

WASHIINGTON – Various improvements, including validation checks, have been implemented to the Internet-based PECOS system, according to a CMS announcement. The checks for DMEPOS applications include minimum and maximum date ranges, and dollar amount values when entering surety bond information. This feature ensures the accuracy of the surety bond information entered, CMS stated. Providers and suppliers can also now use the system to manage the collection of required signatures for electronic documentation or documents requiring their signature prior to submission. 

MetroStar launches social media presence

NEW YORK, N.Y. – MetroStar Home Health Products now has Facebook and Twitter pages that give customers another way to communicate with the company. MetroStar plans to post daily health tips and facts on social media. "Social networks have become an important tool for business these days," stated COO Isaac Newman in a press release. “We hope that, in addition to being a resource for our customers, they can get a glimpse of who we are as people.”

ABC Home Medical invests $1M to expand

EXTON, Pa. – ABC Home Medical has relocated its national headquarters and customer service center to a 13,000-square-foot office complex in Exton, Pa., according to an article in Area Development Online. The company, which provides urological supplies and other medical products, needed to lease a bigger space to accommodate anticipated growth. As part of the move, it generated a capital investment of $1 million, including a $75,000 grant from the Pennsylvania First Program, $175,000 from Job Creation Tax Credits and a $38,700 grant from Guaranteed Free Training, according to the publication.

OIG identifies $6M in prostheses that don’t meet requirements

WASHINGTON – CGS Administrators paid $6 million for 4,260 lines of service for lower limb prostheses in 2010 and 2011 that did not meet local coverage determination (LCD) requirements, according to a report from the Office of Inspector General. At the time CGS paid for these lines of service, it did not have edits in place to evaluate whether or not they met all the LCD requirements. In 2012, CMS directed CGS and the other DME MACs to put in place edits for all requirements in the LCD for lower limb prosthetics. The OIG recommends that CGS recover $6 million in identified overpayments for lines of service for lower limb prostheses that did not meet the requirements in 2010 and 2011; and monitor the edits it has developed since 2012 to make sure they’re working correctly. CGS concurred with the recommendations and plans to take corrective actions. FMI:

Senior Medicare Patrol saves $6M

WASHINGTON – The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG’s) Senior Medicare Patrol project was responsible for recovering $6 million in funds in 2012, according to a new report. The project was also responsible for $133,977 in savings to Medicare beneficiaries, up from $13,657 in 2011. Additionally, the project provided information to federal prosecutors for a case that eventually resulted in a $12.9 million settlement. The project recruits and trains retired professionals and other senior citizens to recognize and report instances or patterns of healthcare fraud. In 2012, there were 5,137 active volunteers, a 9% decrease from 2011. These volunteers conducted 113,457 one-on-one counseling sessions and 14,748 group education sessions, a 71% and 33% increase, respectively, from 2011.

CMS backpedals on overpayments

BALTIMORE – CMS has backed off collecting overpayments for beneficiaries who may have received items or services while they were incarcerated, either in a facility or on supervised release. CMS had identified previously paid claims that contain dates of service that partially or fully overlap a period when the beneficiary was incarcerated based on information from the Social Security Administration (SSA). CMS has since learned that the information related to these periods of incarcerations was, in some cases, incomplete for its purposes. CMS will review the data to improve its processes for identifying periods of incarceration. In the meantime, providers should no longer encourage beneficiaries to contact their local SSA office to have their records updated. Also, they should no longer fax info to CMS’s regional offices. CMS is currently working to develop processes to resolve this issue.

NSG to review nebulizers

WASHINGTON – National Government Services, the Jurisdiction B DME MAC, will initiate a widespread prepayment review of nebulizers (E0570), related drugs, accessories and dispensing fees, it announced in a recent message. Providers that receive an additional documentation request should provide, within 45 days, the following: a copy of a signed and dated detailed written order; a copy of the dispensing order, if applicable; a copy of medical records supporting medical necessity; and proof of delivery. The review is an expansion of documentation compliance reviews currently being conducted on oxygen equipment and glucose supplies. Click here to view the local coverage determination.

Provider warns of security breach

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The new owner of San Jose Medical Supply has begun notifying current and former customers that their personal information was breached in 2011, according to local news reports. Jesille Kuizon, who acquired the company in August 2012, discovered in June 2013 that information, including birth dates, Social Security numbers, Medi-Cal ID numbers and health information, had been disclosed to competitors Front Medical Supplies and/or Living Medical Equipment. San Jose Medical is advising customers to register a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus.

People news

MK Battery has promoted Wayne Merdinger to executive vice president & general manager. Merdinger joined the company in 2006 and most recently served as vice president of business development & international sales. He brings more than 35 years of healthcare-related sales, marketing and general management experience to his new position…A/R Allegiance Group has partnered with Dave Bargmann, co-founder of Homecare Collection Service, which he sold to Invacare in 2008. Bargmann will work with A/R Allegiance on sales/marketing and other strategic initiatives that add value and enhance the patient billing experiences of the company’s provider customers...Philip Alkana of Attleboro, Mass., a respiratory therapist with 30 years of experience, has joined the staff of Reliable Respiratory in Norwood, Mass. He will serve as a clinical care specialist. His previous positions have included director of respiratory care at New England Sinai Hospital and Franciscan Children’s Hospital…Integra Partners, a healthcare network manager that connects DME and O&P providers with health plans, has appointed Richard McMullen controller. He will be responsible for overseeing the company’s financial planning and analysis, treasury audit, accounts payables, accounts receiveables, and tax functions. Previously, McMullen was vice president of finance for Wilhelmina Models.