In brief: Stakeholders to shut down switchboards, Sanomedics to buy sleep provider

Friday, July 12, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – With Round 2 of competitive bidding now underway, industry stakeholders plan to crank up the pressure on lawmakers with a virtual fly-in July 18. AAHomecare is coordinating efforts with The VGM Group, The MED Group and state associations across the country to get providers and their patients to phone, fax or call lawmakers to report problems they’ve encountered since the program kicked off July 1. Only a few weeks into the program, stakeholders are hearing reports of equipment delays and shortages, and contract suppliers that are refusing to provide services in bid areas. But, according to AAHomecare, CMS is reporting only a few dozen complaints. AAHomecare also urges providers to ask their members of Congress to support H.R. 2375, a bill to delay the bid program, and H.R. 1717, a bill to replace it with a market-pricing program. The latter, introduced April 24, currently has 137 co-sponsors. Providers are also asked to forward any feedback they get from lawmakers to Jay Witter at AAHomecare, For more information:

Lawmakers seek data on bid problems

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate are asking for “solid data” on the negative impact of competitive bidding on Medicare beneficiaries, according to AAHomecare. As a result, the association is asking providers to collect the following pieces of data:

Number of calls from beneficiaries regarding Round 2

Number of callers who have already contracted CMS, and whether CMS addressed the situation

Number of callers having problems getting equipment through CMS’s list of contracted providers

Number of callers offering to pay out-of-pocket

Number of callers who need equipment repaired, including power mobility devices

“We will aggregate the data, remove anything that could identify a specific company and give it to Hill staffers to counter CMS’s outrageous claims that the bidding program is working smoothly and that there are no negative impacts on beneficiaries,” AAHomecare stated. The association asks that members send data on a weekly basis to Peter Rankin at Additionally, AAHomecare is asking providers to encourage beneficiaries to make three calls to CMS (1-800-Medicare); People for Quality Care (1-800-404-8702); and their members of Congress (1-202-224-3121). 

Sanomedics to buy sleep provider for $7M

MIAMI – Sanomedics International Holdings has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire its second sleep services business, Baytown, Texas-based Duke Medical, for $7 million. Duke Medical generated about $4 million in revenue and an EBITDA of $1.5 million in 2012, and is on target to hit an EBITDA of $2 million this year. Duke Medical provides medical products and supplies to patients with sleep apnea throughout Houston and Galveston. Vann Duke, who has held positions at Rotech Healthcare, Apria Healthcare and Lincare, leads the company. “This acquisition will take Sanomedics into new geographic markets and expand our efforts to build out a national platform of our sleep apnea service and product offerings,” stated Keith Houlihan, co-founder and president of Sanomedics, in a press release. The purchase price includes cash, the issuance of common shares of Sanomedics and debt consideration. The deal is expected to close by Sept. 30, 2013. In 2012, Sanomedics signed letters of intent to buy two unnamed sleep services businesses on the East and West coasts. Earlier this year, it also acquired Prime Time Medical, a Largo, Fla.-based HME provider, for $3 million. 

First Choice distributes for ActivStyle

JACKSON, Miss. – First Choice Medical has signed a distribution agreement with ActivStyle, a national in-home provider of incontinence and other medical supplies. Per the agreement, First Choice will take over a “strategic portion” of ActivStyle’s direct-to-home deliveries of supplies, according to a press release. “Considering their logistics experience, distribution center footprint and technology infrastructure, First Choice is well positioned to serve ActivStyle’s clients exceptionally well and assist us with our rapid growth and service mission,” stated Todd Cianfrocca, CEO of ActivStyle.

CPAP therapy reduces nightmares in vets with PTSD, OSA

DARIEN, Ill. – CPAP therapy may reduce nightmares in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study abstract published recently in an online supplement of the journal SLEEP. Results of the study show the mean number of nightmares per week fell significantly with CPAP use, and reduced nightmare frequency after starting CPAP was best predicted by CPAP compliance. The study involved a retrospective review of medical records to identify OSA patients who also carried a PTSD diagnosis and were treated in a VA medical center sleep clinic between May 2011 and May 2012. Mean number of nightmares per week before treatment and up to six months after CPAP prescription were extracted. “One out of six veterans suffers from PTSD, which affects their personal, social and productive life,” stated Sadeka Tamanna, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at G.V. Medical Center, in a press release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Nightmares are one of the major symptoms that affect their daily life, and prevalence of OSA is also high among PTSD patients and can trigger their nightmares.” adds product videos

FULTON, Md. – has added 13 product videos to its website as part of a revamp designed to provide customers with a more streamlined and satisfying shopping experience. The product videos allow customers to determine the qualities and features of products like adjustable bed rails and gel/foam overlays before purchasing, the company stated in a press release. Several videos feature Co-founder Bryan Mercer, a licensed pharmacist, showing off his “Pharmacist’s Picks.”

Home Medical Equipment expands retail presence

DEPEW, N.Y. – Home Medical Equipment of WNY has opened the first of three planned new locations, according to Buffalo Business First. The 4,200-square-foot retail store in Depew is the company’s second in the city. The store offers a variety of DME for cash, including lift chairs, scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, compression stockings and CPAP devices. The company is also looking to open stores in Dunkirk and Rochester. Michael McCartney and Joseph DiDomenico also own Respiratory Services of WNY, which focuses on Medicare and other insurers.   

Itamar, Somnoware form strategic alliance

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Itamar Medical and Somnoware Healthcare Systems have agreed to align their technology, marketing and business efforts to drive new growth opportunities. Through a strategic alliance, the companies will combine their hardware and software, enabling customers to transform delivery of care, reduce cost and improve productivity, according to a press release. “Integrating Itamar’s home sleep testing device, WatchPAT, with Somnoware’s proprietary cloud-based platform will accelerate the adoption of an integrated care delivery platform—an industry concept that uses workflow automation software and a care coordination platform to break down today’s device- and provider-centric silos of data-gathering and communication,” the release states.

OIG to NY: Establish bid program for diabetes test strips

WASHINGTON – The New York State Department of Health could have saved about $5.9 million by establishing a competitive bidding program for diabetes test strips like Medicare, according to a report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The department saved about 51% on strips by obtaining manufacturer rebates, but Medicare reimbursement for strips under Round 1 of competitive bidding were still lower than the average Medicaid reimbursement after the rebates, the report states. For example, the highest Medicare reimbursement for a 50-unit package of strips in Round 1 areas in calendar year 2011 was $15.62, whereas the department’s net average Medicaid reimbursement for a 50-unit package of strips provided from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010, was $24.54. The department generally concurred with the OIG’s recommendation. FMI:

DME provider sentenced to prison

MCALLEN, Texas – The owner of a now defunct DME business has been ordered to prison for his role in a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid through fraudulent billing, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the southern district of Texas. The scheme involved about $11.1 million in false claims to the agencies. Marcello Herrera, the former owner of RGV DME in McAllen, Texas, pleaded guilty in February and has now been ordered to go to prison for 120 months, be under supervision for three years following his release and pay $6.1 million in restitution. Herrera and his accomplices admitted that they used marketers to obtain Medicare and Medicaid ID numbers and other information from beneficiaries, which they, in turn, used to fraudulently bill for DME that was either never prescribed or prescribed but never delivered. They also acknowledged that they attempted to obtain referrals of patients or orders for DME from doctors in exchange for gifts.