In brief: S&P downgrades Apria, AAH names champions

Friday, October 12, 2012

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Standard & Poor has downgraded Apria Healthcare’s credit rating from stable to negative. A cash flow of negative $64 million for the first half of 2012 has raised doubts that Apria will reduce its cash flow to S&P’s estimate of less than negative $20 million by the end of 2012 and return to positive cash flow in 2013. S&P affirmed a “B+” corporate credit rating. The rationale behind the revised outlook is Apria’s “aggressive” financial risk profile, which takes into account the company’s current trend of operating at a cash flow deficit. S&P expects Apria’s cash flow to remain negative in 2012 but to improve from 2011 levels and turn positive by 2013. Other factors contributing to the weak business profile rating include challenges involved with on-shoring the company’s billing and customer service arms and the fragmented nature of the industry.

Landauer, Miller named Homecare Champions

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare on Oct. 10 announced the winners of this year’s Homecare Champion Award: Alan Landauer, chairman of Landauer Metropolitan; and Van Miller, founder and president of The VGM Group. The award recognizes AAHomecare members who have made exceptional contributions to the homecare community throughout their careers, according to a statement from the association. AAHomecare will present Landauer and Miller with their awards at the Stand Up for Homecare reception Oct. 16 at Medtrade. AAHomecare President Tyler Wilson and Chairman Joel Marx lauded Landauer for his “steadfast commitment to the homecare sector, evidenced by your service as the president of the New York Medical Equipment Providers Association and as chairman of AAHomecare.” Wilson and Marx lauded Miller for his “remarkable entrepreneurial achievements in the HME sector going back to the founding of Miller Medical Supply in 1976, your leadership of two companies that were recognized by Inc. Magazine as among the fastest growing in the U.S., and your founding of VGM Group, which now employs more than 500 people.” FMI on the Stand Up for Homecare reception, which takes place at the Ventanas Rooftop at 275 Baker Street in Atlanta:

VGM helps providers position themselves as ‘solution’

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group now offers the Outcomes Plus Wellness Network, a program designed to put HME providers on solid footing in a world of ACOs and other healthcare reform initiatives. Network offerings include outcomes monitoring, disease management guides, telehealth and disease management, home monitoring devices and compliance management, according to a press release.“To develop the strategic partnerships they covet, HME providers must bring value to these organizations by helping them improve patient outcomes and compliance, and reduce readmission rates and lengths of stay,” stated Alan Morris, director of the network, in the release. “These are the tools that will you to position yourself as the solution.”Starting this month, as part of healthcare reform, hospitals with high readmission rates for certain patients will be penalized. enters incontinence market

MONTCLAIR, N.J. –, a website created to help caregivers provide better care for their aging parents, has launched Dry Direct, a new home delivery service for incontinence supplies. The company has also launched a national radio campaign highlighting Dry Direct’s convenience, discretion and free shipping. The aim of the new service is two-fold, according to a press release: to give buyers more options than they would otherwise have in supermarkets and drug stores, and to eliminate the inconvenience of buying incontinence supplies at such venues. “Dry Direct solves multiple problems for people,” stated Keith Maddox, CEO of Parentgiving, in the release. “Eliminating the inconvenience and embarrassment of having to go to the local store is an obvious one. Another biggie is the limited choice you will find at the local grocery store.” Maddox added that while price is a major consideration for customers who buy in-store, less expensive options often mean compromised quality, which can lead to further healthcare costs and issues such as skin problems.

Ex-owners of DME wholesale company charged with fraud

ONTARIO, Calif. – The former owners of a DME wholesale company based here were arrested and charged Oct. 10 in connection with a fraud scheme involving $16.6 million worth of false claims, according to a Department of Justice news release. Rajinder Singh Paul and Baljit Kaur Paul, the former owners of Major’s Wholesale Medical Supply, were arrested on conspiracy and healthcare fraud charges. The couple allegedly sold high-end power wheelchairs to DME companies for about $1,000 per wheelchair, and then the DME companies, many of which were allegedly fraudulent, billed Medicare $3,000 to $6,000 per wheelchair. According to the indictment, the Pauls provided more than 170 DME companies with backdated, altered and fabricated invoices that reflected that the companies had purchased power wheelchairs and DME from Major’s earlier than they had. The DME companies then allegedly used these invoices to defraud Medicare or thwart audits. The couple allegedly received over $9.7 million from the fraudulent submissions.

Deadline approaching for Round 1 recompete

WASHINGTON – Suppliers interested in the Round 1 recompete of competitive bidding have seven days left until the registration deadline, set for Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, at 9 p.m. EDT. While target registration dates have passed for authorized officials (AOs) and backup authorized officials (BAOs), those who have not yet registered can still do so before the deadline. If the AO for a company has not already registered, CMS cannot guarantee that he or she will be able to complete the registration process before registration closes. If an AO does not register, the company cannot bid and cannot be eligible for a contract. Providers who have registered an AO but not a BAO are encouraged to do so. The individual in BAO role can assume the AO responsibilities should the AO be unable to fulfill his or her bidding responsibilities.


Short takes: Nipro, Aetrex, U.S. Rehab, VGM

Nipro Diagnostics, a manufacturer and marketer of diabetes products and supplies, has launched a new line of ancillary products that gives providers more retail options. The more than 30 products included in the TRUEPlus line include fast-acting glucose tablets, shots and gels; ketone strips; and diabetic multivitamins…Aetrex, a manufacturer of therapeutic shoes, has launched a “Free Shoes for Life” sweepstakes to raise awareness of the benefits of what it calls “comfort and wellness footwear products.” To win a free pair of shoes for the rest of their life, consumers must visit a local provider, have their foot scanned using Aetrex’s iStep and provide their name and email address. The contest runs through May 31, 2014…U.S. Rehab, the complex rehab division of The VGM Group, plans to introduce an ATP master program to prepare students for RESNA’s Assistive Technology Professional exam in the next year. Designed to take about 10 months, the course includes in-depth training on seating and wheeled mobility; and instructions on configuring, fitting, adjusting and programming manual and power mobility devices, seating components, options and accessories…The VGM Group now offers an online portal that automates the ordering process between hospices and HME providers. The portal allows hospice partners to create an account, assign access levels to key staff, place an order and schedule pickups.

People news: Jillian Longo

Jillian Longo has joined The Audit Team. Previously, Longo was an attorney advisor with the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals in Cleveland, Ohio, Midwestern Field Office. She provided guidance to various administrative law judges (ALJs) on Medicare statutes, regulations and policy.