In brief: Stakeholders keep eye on doc fix, CMS issues refunds

Friday, December 6, 2013

WASHINGTON – As this year’s congressional session winds down, HME stakeholders are eyeing the “doc-fix” bill as the best vehicle for H.R. 1717. The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees are expected to mark up the doc fix bill on Thursday, according to Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. If a finalized fix to physician reimbursement is delayed, it would give the industry more time to push H.R. 1717, which has 160 co-sponsors, said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group. Stakeholders continue to receive positive feedback on H.R. 1717, which would replace competitive bidding with a market-pricing program. “We continue to receive positive signs from the Finance and Ways and Means committees in that they recognize there are problems with the program and want to fix them in the near future,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility.

CMS issues refunds

WASHINGTON – CMS will issue refunds for collections it made on incorrectly identified overpayments associated with incarcerated Medicare beneficiaries, according to National Government Services. The agency has acknowledged that, this past summer, when it initiated recovery of payments made to providers on behalf of beneficiaries it believed were incarcerated at the time of service, it used incomplete data. National Government Services says it will not be able to provide additional information on this topic until after Dec. 12. More information is available online.

ActiveCare ‘unlocks’ growth opportunity

OREM, Utah – ActiveCare, a diabetes and chronic disease management company, has retained DelMorgan & Co. to serve as its financial adviser. DelMorgan, an investment banking firm, will advise ActiveCare on strategic plans, including investments, possible acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures, according to a release. “With a substantial sales pipeline and the need to fund working capital for growth, solving ActiveCare’s short-term financial challenges should unlock the opportunity for explosive future expansion and substantial profitability,” stated Neil Morganbesser, DelMorgan president and CEO, in the release. “Our goal is to help ensure that capital is available for growth and the company can execute its business plan.” ActiveCare manages more than 30,000 diabetes patients for nearly 100 employers. “With over 25 million diabetics and another 79 million pre-diabetics in the United States costing over $245 billion per year—33% of the nation’s total healthcare costs—there is tremendous market demand for an approach that has been shown to reduce those costs,” stated Rob Delgado, chairman of Delgado. “ActiveCare has that solution.” ActiveCare uses “state-of-the-art” meters that allow its CareSpecialists to intervene in real time and provides around-the-clock support.

DMEhub now integrates with physician system

DALLAS and ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A new partnership means DMEhub integrates with and supports Aprima Medical Software’s electronic health record (EHR) system, allowing physicians to order DME directly through Aprima. “Aprima is very pleased to be able to offer this important new time-saving feature to our customers,” said Michael Nissenbaum, Aprima president and CEO, in a release. “The need to automate the DME ordering process is becoming increasingly important as we see the population age and the home healthcare market grow.” As a result of the integration, DMEhub now pulls the patient demographic information directly from records and populates the necessary forms. It also allows physicians to attach documents. DMEhub then electronically sends the forms to the correct supplier and incorporates the forms back into the records. “We feel that through this partnership we are bringing a solution to Aprima’s customers that will save them time in their day-to-day workflow, therefore saving their practice money,” said Jeff Jacobs, DMEhub president, in the release.

Court ruling boosts Hasco’s biz

ADDISON, Texas – Hasco Medical has received orders for $2.5 million worth of handicap accessible taxicabs, the company announced today. The orders represent about 80 taxicabs that will be deployed in the New York City market. “This is such a great purchase for our company,” said CEO Hal Compton in a release. “Hasco will continue to work with more taxi companies in various states to continue to provide accessible vehicles for every person that requires one.” A court ruling has required that New York City put more handicap accessible taxicabs on the road. In mid-November, the city auctioned 200 medallions, or licenses, for handicap accessible taxicabs, and in the next three years, it will auction off another 1,800. Currently, New York City has 233 handicap accessible taxis, representing less than 2% of its total fleet of 13,000 cabs. Hasco sells handicap accessible vans in 18 locations from Maine to Florida. It consists of Ride-Away, Auto Mobility Sales, Mobility Freedom and Wheelchair Vans of America. In Florida, Hasco also sells medical equipment and supplies through Certified Medical.

Sleep support community celebrates first year

SAN DIEGO - Wake Up to Sleep, an online support community for sleep apnea patients, has celebrated its first anniversary, ResMed announced Dec. 5. Patients can use the site for screening tools and symptom tests, or if they’re already using CPAP therapy, to monitor their therapy data and set goals. “Patients who are engaged in their own therapy are more likely to be compliant in the long run,” said Jim Hollingshead, president of ResMed Americas, in a release. “This decreases patient health risks, while also creating a smoother path to reimbursements for HMEs.”

Jafari Medical Supply calls for diabetic-friendly recipes

BOSTON – Jafari Medical Supply is calling for diabetic-friendly holiday recipes that it will assemble into an electronic recipe book, the company announced Dec. 4. “Around the holidays, especially, we know it gets really rough for diabetics,” said Robert Jafari, company owner, in a release. “We wanted to give them some options so they’re able to participate fully in the joys of the season.” Jafari Medical Supply recently sponsored a Facebook contest seeking diabetic-friendly desserts. Visit Jafari’s Facebook page to learn more about the contest, which runs through Dec. 18.

Clay Home Medical donates wheelchairs to vets

PETERSBURG, Va. – Clay Home Medical provided 10 wheelchairs to veterans participating in an Honor Flight in October, the company announced Dec. 5. Veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit the nation’s war memorials as part of the event. “We are proud to support Honor Flight and our veterans in this special event,” said Sam Clay, president, in a release. “It is our hope that we can continue to honor veterans in this manner in the future.”

Audit tools available for download

WASHINTGON – AAHomecare’s audit checklists and tracking tool are now available to download from the association’s website. The association’s Regulatory Council produced five processing checklists to help providers avoid audits—all have been reviewed by attorneys and provider representatives. The tracking tool is a spreadsheet that providers can use to monitor the volume and effect of audits. The checklists and tracking tool are free for AAHomcare members.

Study examines reason for COPD in women

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The growing prevalence of COPD in women is due to changes in smoking trends, work hazards and, possibly, hormones, according to a new study published in Translational Research. “Over my 30 years of treating patients, I’ve seen the number of women with COPD increase dramatically to where they now outnumber the number of men with COPD in my practice,” said study author Dr. David Mannino of the University of Kentucky. “Women with COPD are particularly at risk for certain complications, such as osteoporosis.” More women are smoking, and may be exposed to more chemicals and pollution at work than they traditionally were, according to the study. Female sex hormones are now shown to influence airways, as well, with scientists learning tobacco smoke and air pollution have a greater effect on the lung function of girls than boys.

American HomePatient names new president, CEO

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Mark Lamp will take over as president and CEO of American HomePatient (AHP) on Jan. 1, the company announced Dec. 3. Lamp was most recently president and COO of Guardian Homecare Holdings, which he led to a successful sale in 2012. He has extensive prior experience in private equity-backed and public companies in healthcare information systems and services. Lamp replaces Joseph Furlong, who will retire after 15 years at the helm of AHP. Furlong will remain on the board of directors as an advisor to AHP and Highland Capital Management, which manages the funds that owns the company.

Heartland IV Care sweeps enteral contracts

TOLEDO, Ohio – Heartland IV Care has been awarded contracts to provide enteral care in all nine competitive bid areas included in the Round 1 re-compete, the company announced Dec. 3. The company was awarded 41 contracts in Round 2. Heartland IV operates in partnership with Heartland Home Health Care and Hospice, both part of the HCR ManorCare family. HCR ManorCare is a provider of home infusion, home health care and hospice services, as well as short-term post-acute and long-term care services. It has 60,000 caregivers nationwide.

CMS: Mail order costs more than pharmacies

ALEXANDRIA – It costs Medicare up to 83% more to fill prescriptions through mail-order pharmacies than through community pharmacies, a new analysis has found. Examining millions of claims from March 2012, CMS found that 21 prescription drug plans (PDPs) routinely paid more to fill prescriptions by mail. “Mail order is not for everyone and its appeal as a cost-saver is severely undermined by this analysis,” said Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), in a release. A possible reason for the increased costs: The pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that administer the PDPs own most mail-order pharmacies, the release states. “PBMs can grow their profits by steering a plan’s patients to a PBM’s mail-order pharmacy, regardless of the patient’s preference or whether doing so results in higher costs to the drug plan or the Medicare program,” the release states.

CareCentrix program reduces readmissions

HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix’s HomeSTAR program has cut hospital readmissions by 20% for Aetna members in Florida, the company announced Dec. 3. The program offers support to patients moving to self-managed home care after hospitalization. “Our HomeSTAR program is a great example of the significant impact that targeted interventions delivered in the home can have on patients’ recovery and overall health,” said John Driscoll, CareCentrix CEO, in a release. Readmissions cost more than $31 billion per year, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

CMS announces bidding webinars

WASHINGTON – Webinars on the Round 1 re-compete of competitive bidding have been scheduled for Dec. 9, Dec. 11 and Dec. 12, CMS has announced. Each lecture-style webinar is limited to 1,000 participants, and CMS asks each participant to register for only one session. Although questions will be taken, they will not be answered live, CMS says.

Water Street divests infusion company

CHICAGO – Water Street Healthcare Partners has sold Stoughton, Mass.-based Medical Specialties Distributors to New Mountain Capital, according to a Dec. 2 release. Medical Specialties Distributors, which supplies infusion therapy products, supplies, biomedical services and IT solutions, purchased Medical Technology Resources in June. “Water Street has been instrumental in our company’s success,” said Jim Beck, president and CEO of Medical Specialties Distributors, in a release. “Its team helped us generate new ideas and expand our relationships with the industry’s leading manufacturers and multi-site health care providers.”

ResMed seals deal in Czech Republic

PRAGUE – ResMed has acquired Unimedis, a Prague-based company that distributes equipment for sleep disorders, according to news reports. Unimedis covers the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Ondrej Kalas will remain as manager. “This acquisition continues ResMed’s emerging market strategy of growing our distribution to bring market-leading sleep-disordered breathing and respiratory care solutions to places where they’re needed most,” said ResMed-Europe President Anne Reiser. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Former Apria exec moves to new post

DENVER – Daniel Greenleaf is now president and CEO of specialty-infusion company Home Solutions, the Denver Post reports. “His strong executive skills and commercial and operations background bring crucial elements to achieve significant growth, operational efficiencies and continued success for Home Solutions,” said Steve Neumann, managing partner of KRG Capital Partners. Greenleaf joined Apria as president of Coram Specialty Infusion in 2008, which CVS Caremark purchased last week for $2.1 billion.