In brief: Stakeholders enlist Sen. Heitkamp, MedCare makes buy

Friday, November 13, 2015

WASHINGTON – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has agreed to be an original co-sponsor, along with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, on a bill that would soften the blow of the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding pricing on Jan. 1, according to AAHomecare.

“When the South Dakota providers met with Sen. Thune earlier this year and he agreed to work with Rep. Price, the industry needed a Democratic lead, and Sen. Heitkamp seemed like the logical fit,” said Barb Stockert of Jamestown, N.D.-based Sanford HealthCare Accessories in a bulletin from the association this week.

Heitkamp was one of 50 co-signers on a letter to CMS last year that asked the agency not to expand competitive bidding until the Office of Inspector General completes an investigation of Round 2 of the program.

In October, Reps. Tom Price, R-Ga., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., agreed to introduce a bill in the House of Representatives that would provide a 30% increase in reimbursement and phase in cuts over four years. As it stands, CMS intends to phase in the cuts, which will likely be up to 45% to 50%in non-bid areas, over six months.

Details of the legislation are currently being hammered out, with the goal of having consistent language introduced in both chambers, AAHomecare says.

Without a legislative solution, providers in rural areas will likely have to reevaluate their product offerings and/or ask beneficiaries to pay out of pocket if they want to stay in business, they say.

MedCare buys Home Health Resource

GREENSBURG, Pa. – MedCare Equipment Company has added another partnership with a health system.

The company, part of Excela Health, has acquired Home Health Resource from UPMC Altoona, growing its patient base to 24,000 and its revenue base to $70 million.

“Working collaboratively with health systems across western Pennsylvania we have been able to achieve cost efficiencies, economies of scale and eliminate duplicative services,” said John Sphon, CEO, in a press release. “Ultimately, the beneficiary of these partnerships is and will remain our patients and customers.”

MedCare already partners with Conemaugh Home Medical Equipment in Johnstown, part of Conemaugh Health System/Duke Life Point. The company also has partnerships with the Heritage Valley, Butler, Washington and UPMC health systems.

Home Health Resource expands MedCare’s presence in western Pennsylvania, southern New York, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia. With Home Health Resource, MedCare now employs 300 people at 14 locations.

It’s been a good year for MedCare: The company was named first place winner in this year’s HME Excellence Awards by HME News and was named Most Valuable Provider in the enterprise category by Brightree.

Sunrise hits refresh on its website

FRESNO, Calif. – Sunrise Medical has revamped its website to make it more user-friendly. Visitors to will select their customer group (consumer, clinician, dealer) to view customized homepages with links geared toward their interests. The Sunrise Medical website also features a fresh look and a responsive design, according to a press release. “We are delighted to launch this new website, which provides an easy way to locate information and relevant content, an engaging experience, and is mobile friendly,” said Teresa Adkins, vice president of marketing.

United Spinal launches directory

NEW YORK – United Spinal Association is making it easier for consumers to find the products and services they need with its new online directory. "We developed the Affiliate Service Provider program to ensure wheelchair users and other consumers living with spinal cord injuries and disorders can take advantage of the very best products and services—discoverable all in one place," said Megan Lee, national sales manager at United Spinal Association, in a release. The association seeks to list businesses that specialize in vehicle and hand controls, therapeutic and bathroom equipment, urological suppliers, scooters, wheelchairs, adaptive devices, contractors, ramp companies and other disability-related products and services. Users of the directory will be able to search the listings by state, keyword and category.

Home infusion costs less, improves outcomes, according to Option Care study

SAN ANTONIO – Patients treated with immunoglobulin therapy at home with a high level of clinical oversight by Option Care had better outcomes than others receiving the therapy, according to a recent study. “We found that the provision of comprehensive and consistent care in a patient’s own home does indeed lead to better outcomes,” said Jordan Orange, M.D., Ph.D., lead investigator of the study and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “And an added benefit was that it was actually more cost effective.” The study found that costs per year for Option Care patients totaled $112,700 compared to $120,500 for patients from the control group. The findings were presented this week at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting. Formerly Walgreens Infusion Services, Option Care offers home and alternate treatment sites infusion services.

Brightree honors providers

ATLANTA – Brightree has announced the winners of its 2015 Customer Excellence Awards. They are: Wright & Filippis, Scholar Award; Advacare Home Services, Ambassador Award; Cape Medical Supply, Leading Edge Award; MDS Medical Device Specialty, Rising Star Award; GSH Home Med Care, Most Valued Provider, 25 users or less; and MedCare Equipment Company, Most Valued Provider, enterprise category. The awards recognize providers who have excelled in their use of Brightree solutions.

Nonin launches program, partnership

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Nonin Medical has partnered with Tri-anim Health Services to offer its COPD Seamless Treatment and Exacerbation Prevention (STEP) Plan to hospitals. The STEP Plan, which includes Nonin’s GO2 personal pulse oximeter, has a four-pillar approach: care-team alignment, in-patient hospital care plan, outpatient home care plan, and home-care devices to help hospitals reduce readmissions and costs, while improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

Arkray snags Medi-Cal contract

MINNEAPOLIS – Arkray USA has secured a three-year contract with California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, to supply recipients with its line of blood glucose meters, test strips and related supplies. About 12.5 million citizens were enrolled in Medi-Cal as of May 2015, or about 32.4% of the state’s population, according to a press release. “We at Arkray place a great deal of emphasis in developing products that are not only easy to use but provide testing results that are highly accurate, providing patients and healthcare professionals with the information they need to effectively manage their diabetes,” said Jonathan Chapman, president, in the release. Arkray USA is a division of Arkray based in Kyoto, Japan.

MediLogix closes on loan

DENVER – MediLogix has closed on a $4 million senior term loan from CapX Partners. The provider of rental DME and respiratory equipment to skilled nursing, rehab, long-term acute care facilities and hospice providers, will use the loan to buy additional equipment to fulfill its increased customer demands, according to a release. “With management focused on several key initiatives to support growth—including building and expanding its national geographic footprint, hiring and increasing their brand awareness—they needed to keep up with projected inventory demands,” according to the release from CapX Partners, a specialty finance company that focuses on private equity and venture-backed portfolio companies looking for debt financing in the $2 million to $20 million range.

Sunovion educates, empowers with videos

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – Sunovion Pharmaceuticals and the COPD Foundation have launched a new video series, Reel COPD, to share the first-hand stories of patients and their caregivers as they cope with a chronic, progressive disease. The first three videos in the series are now live on, and build on existing tools and resources available to patients and caregivers. Sunovion and the COPD Foundation initiated COPD Together in 2013 to empower and educate caregivers about managing COPD. “Our team is dedicated to providing resources that support patients, their caregivers, and the full COPD ‘shared care’ team, as we advance our ongoing commitment to the respiratory community,” said Michael Gaines, executive director of respiratory marketing at Sunovion, in a press release.

Short takes: Medtrade, Permobil, D.W. McMillan

Early bird registration has opened for Medtrade Spring 2016. Those who register early can save $75 on the price of the Expo and more than $200 on the conference sessions. The show is scheduled for Feb. 29-March 2, 2016, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas…Permobil has promoted Josh Anderson to vice president of marketing. In this new role, Anderson will lead integration, development and marketing strategies for Permobil, ROHO and TiLite. Most recently, Anderson, a wheelchair user, was vice president of global portfolio management for TiLite…D.W. McMillan Home Medical Equipment in Brewton, Ala., has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval. The company is a full-service provider of medical equipment and supplies, including oxygen concentrators, CPAP devices, power wheelchairs and diabetes test strips.