In brief: Shutdown ends, industry stands up

Friday, October 18, 2013

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers narrowly avoided a default last week when they reached an agreement on funding the federal government through Jan. 15, 2014. What does that mean for the HME industry? Business as usual, says Jay Witter, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare, who, along with other stakeholders, has continued to meet with legislative staffers to drum up support for H.R. 1717, which would replace competitive bidding with a market pricing program. The bill currently has 157 co-sponsors. One question that remains is whether a CMS briefing, originally scheduled for Oct. 4, will be rescheduled. With CMS officials likely catching up on a backlog of work after the government shutdown, that might not happen right away, says Witter. “The committees want to do it as soon as possible but CMS may push back on that,” he said.

Stand Up for Homecare raises $75k

ORLANDO, Fla. – Stand Up for Homecare, AAHomecare’s fundraising reception, raised more than $75,000 for advocacy and awareness campaigns. The reception, held during Medtrade, drew more than 300 attendees, according to the association. At the reception, AAHomecare named Pride Mobility Products’ Scott Meuser consultant Shelly Prial the 2013 Homecare Champions. Also at the reception, AAHomecare recognized Wayne Stanfield for his contributions to the HME industry. Stanfield, vice president of provider relations, announced he would retire Nov. 15. 

Obama signs sleep apnea bill

WASHINGTON – Federal standards regarding sleep disorders—sleep apnea in particular—among commercial drivers must be developed through a rulemaking process, according to legislation President Obama signed into law on Oct. 15. The law forbids the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from developing rules based only on regulatory guidance, news organizations report.  Introduced in September, the bill quickly moved through the House and Senate, where it passed by unanimous vote.  FMCSA has been in the drafting stages of sleep disorder guidelines for several years and was expected to release them this year

Prepay review shows substantial error rate

BALTIMORE – National Government Services, the Jurisdiction B DME MAC, is conducting a widespread prepay review of power wheelchairs without power seating options. The DME MAC processed 636 claims between July 1, 2013 and Sept. 1, 2013, and said 572 claims needed more documentation, according to a recent bulletin. Partial and full denials of those claims resulted in a 77% error rate. Denials were most common when documentation did not prove a manual wheelchair was unsuitable, did not demonstrate why a power-operated vehicle would not meet the beneficiary’s in-home needs, or did not prove the beneficiary had a significant mobility problem. MAC officials remind suppliers they are required to respond to requests for additional documentation.

Good works: Companies give gift of mobility

TORRANCE, Calif., SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. And Wheatfield, N.Y. – Wheelchair manufacturer Convaid has donated a custom wheelchair to Le Hoang Vien, a 26-year-old Vietnamese man with rheumatoid arthritis. Thanks to the donation, he is able to attend school. Convaid donated through the international nonprofit Free Wheelchair Mission. “Due to poverty and economic isolation, people with disabilities in the developing world have limited access to wheelchairs,” said Chris Braun, Convaid president, in a release … Also on the giving path: Vantage Mobility International (VMI), which has donated $10,000 and volunteer hours to The Miracle League of Arizona, which helps people with disabilities play adaptive baseball. “Their state-of-the-art baseball stadium gives children with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy America’s favorite pastime and all of the excitement that comes with the game,” said Monique McGivney, VMI director of corporate communication, in an Oct. 17 release … Meanwhile, Wheatfield, N.Y.-based Health System Services donated wheelchairs to Western New York veterans of the Second World War taking part on a Heroes Flight trip to the national World War II memorial. Trip sponsor Sen. George Maziarz said the wheelchairs eased anxiety some vets felt about making the trip.

Pharmacists association names new officers

ORLANDO, Fla. – The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) recently elected Mark Riley president, according to an Oct. 16 release. Riley, a pharmacy owner and current executive vice president of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, is a national expert on the pharmacy benefit manager industry. “Mark is a distinguished leader known and respected by many independent community pharmacists,” said Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO, in a prepared statement. At the same meeting, the NCPA’s 115th Annual Convention and trade Exposition, association members elected the board of directors and other officers.

Long Term Care becomes LifeH2H

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Long Term Care, doing business as Long’s HME, has a new owner, a new name and new services. Dewey Roof, a partner in Long Term Care, has taken over the HME business and created a parent company called LifeH2H (Hospital to Home) to oversee LifeHME and the newly formed LifeTouch, a patient discharge management company. The changes will roll out over the next few months and be complete by the end of the year. “There is a tremendous need for patient management once outside the doors of hospitals and doctors’ offices,” Roof stated in a press release. Patients are, in general, left to manage their own care, and LifeH2H, LifeHME, and LifeTOUCH will help patients navigate the complex healthcare landscape, while creating a better post discharge experience, he believes. Kenneth Long, also a partner in Long Term Care, has absorbed the pharmacy services into his drug store business.

Survey: PMD repairs difficult to obtain

WASHINGTON – The results of a recent AAHomecare survey show fewer providers are repairing power mobility devices. In 2012, 75% or providers would repair PMDs, but in 2013 that number fell to 45%, according to the survey. Less than one-third of providers said they would repair a PMD they did not originally provide. AAHomecare believes CMS is to blame for making the process of accessing repairs difficult and costly. “As CMS pushes providers out of the market, increasing numbers of Medicare beneficiaries will be plagued by lack of access when they need repairs,” the association states in a bulletin to members. AAHomecare said it plans to present the data to CMS later this month.

BOC now offers retail pharmacy accreditation

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Board of Certification/Accreditation has launched an accreditation program for retail pharmacies, the organization announced Oct. 16. Pharmacies may apply just for pharmacy accreditation or in conjunction with DMEPOS accreditation. “The pharmacy industry has seen a shift from the dispensing of medication to the more important goal of improving patient outcomes,” said Wendy Miller, BOC director of facility accreditation. “BOC shares that goal, and pharmacy accreditation is an additional step pharmacies can take to protect patients.”

Short takes: Progressive Medical, Jafari

BUFORD, Ga. – Progressive Medical Concepts has launched a new online store for medical supplies, the company announced Oct. 14. The company offers devices and supplies from companies such as Medline, Drive, Invacare and Graham-Field … Jafari Medical Supply launched a website where medical facilities, caregivers and patients can purchase healthcare supplies, the company announced Oct. 16 … 101 Mobility San Jose has opened in California. It’s the provider’s first West Coast franchise … Freeport, Ill.-based Freeport Home Medical Equipment has been accredited by The Joint Commission.

People news: Howard Zisser, Josh Renihan, Dean Kamen

BEDFORD, Mass. – Howard Zisser is the first medical director at Insulet Corp., the company announced Oct. 17. He will offer input on product development and act as liaison with government officials and healthcare organizations … Josh Renihan has been named SCA’s vice president of US healthcare sales, personal care, according to a recent announcement from the global hygiene company, which makes TENA products …  Dean Kamen, inventor and entrepreneur, will be honored with the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award during The Tech Awards, to be held Nov. 14. Holder of nearly 500 patents for medical devices, Kamen has developed an insulin pump and the iBot, a power wheelchair that climbs stairs.