In brief: Stark predicts, Brightree buys

Sunday, December 21, 2008

WASHINGTON - It looks like the HME industry will have more time in 2009 to press lawmakers for the elimination of national competitive bidding and a repeal of the 36-month oxygen cap. The economy and smaller healthcare issues will take precedence during the first 100 days of the new administration, said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., in the Dec. 17 edition of The Hill. Stark, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee's health subcommittee, said that healthcare reform needs to be addressed in "regular order." He told The Hill: "You have to give everybody a chance to have a hearing." That includes special interest groups, he said. President-elect Barack Obama said during his campaign that healthcare reform will be a priority in his first term and Sens. Max Baucus, D. Mont., and Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., have both said they plan to introduce healthcare reform legislation in 2009. Stark predicts Congress will vote on healthcare reform in late 2009 or early 2010.

Brightree buys C&S Billing
DULUTH, Ga. - Brightree announced last week that it has acquired C&S Billing Center, an Antioch, Ill.-based HME billing service provider. The deal combines Brightree's Internet-hosted business management application with C&S's integrated billing service solution, creating a "bundled offering." "This will make the old billing services model obsolete," stated Dave Cormack, president and CEO of Brightree in a release. "No longer will providers need to fax tons of paper, re-key the same data into multiple systems, or be kept in the dark regarding what has been billed, rejected or paid." Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Brightree announced earlier this year that it would use a "significant investment" from a private equity firm to make acquisitions, expand into new markets and boost spending on product development.

Philips strengthens home healthcare unit
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. - Philips announced last week that it has acquired the aerosol therapy business of Medel SpA, an Italian distributor of nebulizer compressor systems and other home healthcare products. The deal builds on its acquisition of Respironics, which has a respiratory drug delivery business, company officials stated in a release. "Building upon that strength and fulfilling on our ambition to expand our high-growth compressor nebulizer systems franchise, we decided to acquire the aerosol therapy business of Medel, which allows us to better serve the needs of our customers and their patients who suffer from respiratory disorders," stated CEO Don Spence in the release. In a related transaction, Philips also acquired manufacturing and logistics operations for global nebulizer business Melhk Ltd. in Hong Kong and its subsidiary Melmedical Co. Ltd. in China. The acquired businesses have all become part of the Respiratory Drug Delivery business unit within Philips Home Healthcare Solutions.

Neb-med pricing remains steady
BALTIMORE - There weren't many changes in the latest average sales price figures for nebulizer medications released last week. Albuterol (J7613) and ipratropium (J7644) were unchanged at 11 cents and 21 cents respectively. Down slightly were Duoneb (J7620) at 27 cents and Brovana (J7605) at $4.95, a 4-cent drop for both. Budesonide (J7626) enjoyed the biggest increase: up 24 cents to $5.63. Levalbuterol (J7614) also increased, rising 7 cents to 60 cents.

Lincare makes ranks
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Lincare's securities will be added to the NASDAQ Q-50 index Dec. 22. The index is designed to track the performance of the 50 securities that are next in line to replace the securities in the NASDAQ-100 Index. The Q-50 is comprised of securities ranked by market capitalization, including telecommunications, retail/wholesale trade and biotech. It does not include banking and investment companies.

Two CEOs charged with Medicare fraud
WASHINGTON - Two medical company CEOs from the Los Angeles area were charged in a seven-count indictment for billing more than $3 million to Medicare for unnecessary home medical equipment during a three-year period, federal officials announced last week. Through Kimco Medical Supply and K&K Medical Supply, Adekunle Rafiu Shittu a/k/a Cooley and Kim Jeanette Shittu billed Medicare for equipment like power wheelchairs and hospital beds that was not provided or needed by patients. They received more than $2 million from Medicare for the items. If found guilty on all counts, each defendant faces a maximum of 55 years in prison and mandatory restitution.