In brief: Study slams bid program, United Spinal rolls on Capitol Hill

Friday, June 12, 2015

BOSTON – A new study strongly disputes CMS’s claim that Medicare beneficiaries have experienced no disruption in access to diabetes supplies as a result of competitive bidding.

A study by the National Minority Quality Forum, which was presented June 7 at the American Diabetes Association’s 75th Scientific Sessions, concludes that beneficiaries in the program’s initial nine test markets are receiving only a portion of the supplies they need, according to a press release.

“A propensity score matched analysis, which assessed CMS data from 2009 to 2012, finds the number of beneficiaries with only partial SMBG acquisition increased by 23% in the test markets compared to 1.7% in the non-test markets,” the forum stated in the release. “Propensity score matching was adopted to reduce selection bias due to imbalance in study covariates.”

Furthermore, the study concludes that the difficulty beneficiaries are experiencing getting the supplies they need has coincided with a higher number of deaths and hospitalizations in the test markets in 2011, the year competitive bidding was implemented.

More specifically, the number of deaths in the analysis was nearly twice as high in the test markets compared with the rest of the Medicare population (102 vs. 60 deaths), and nearly 1,000 beneficiaries in test markets were admitted to the hospital compared to 460 beneficiaries in non-test markets (at a cost of $10.7 million vs. $4.7 million).

"Results of the study show that beneficiaries are suffering following the implementation of the CMS program, and this disruption will be perpetual, as the process requires suppliers to resubmit bids every three years," stated Dr. Jaime Davidson, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and author of the study, stated in the release.

The forum calls on CMS to be held to the same standards as other clinical trials involving humans.

“A clinical trial's safety review board looking at these findings would stop a trial out of an abundance of caution for patients,” stated Gary Puckrein, PhD, president and CEO of the forum, and lead author of the study. “CMS undertook the competitive bidding program without an independent safety review board so policymakers have to assume the responsibility. They should suspend the competitive bidding process until CMS can effectively monitor the program and ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are protected from potentially harmful consequences."

The forum is a Washington, D.C.–based not-for-profit, non partisan, independent research and education organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care that is available for and provided to all populations.

Fight for access ‘rolls on’ at conference

WASHINGTON – Mobility advocates met with 200 congressional offices to discuss complex rehab, Medicaid and other issues during United Spinal’s fourth-annual Roll on Capitol Hill last week.

“Your courage to speak out and shed light on the issues that affect your quality of life is something that should be commended,” said Tom Aiello, a United Spinal Association board member, during welcome remarks. “There's no question, your voice will make a difference for our entire community." 

More than 100 attendees gathered in Washington, D.C., for the conference, which was held June 7-10, to shape policies affecting those living with spinal cord injuries and disorders. 

The conference also outlined legislative initiatives and policies designed to improve members’ lives, including bills H.R. 1516 and S. 1013, which would create a separate recognition for complex rehab wheelchairs under Medicare. 

The conference also touched on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

“It's important to remember that the Affordable Care Act and the (ADA) have a very important relationship, as you think about the work you're doing here in D.C. at Roll on Capitol Hill and the importance of access to health care and health related services as a civil right," said keynote speaker Sharon Lewis, principal deputy administrator for the Administration for Community Living and HHS' senior adviser on disability.

NSM makes buy in Denver

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has acquired Denver-based USA Mobility, it announced June 4. Employees of USA Mobility, including branch manager Tom Johnson, have joined the NSM Denver team. “We pride ourselves on our customer service and expect our new colleagues to make us stronger yet,” said Johnson. It’s the latest in a string of acquisitions for NSM since 2013, including, most recently, the November acquisition of the custom seating and mobility business of Indianapolis-based Home Health Depot. The USA Mobility deal closed May 29.

Golden unveils new website

OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies has launched a new, mobile-friendly website, it announced last week. The site features a link on every product page where a consumer can click, fill out a brief form, and the information will be sent to the nearest Golden Flagship Retailer. “We are always looking at ways to drive traffic to our retailers,” said Patricia O’Brien, director of marketing and merchandising. The new site also features product accessory buttons that link to specific fabric upgrades and accessory options for each lift chair.

NST taps new VP

CONCORD, N.H. – National Sleep Therapy has named Kelly Bacon as vice president of operations and resupply. Bacon will oversee NST’s customer service and resupply teams in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, according to a press release. She has worked in the DME field for most of her life, but has also worked in the finance and mortgage industries. “I’m excited to be an integral part of such a dynamic, pioneering and visionary company,” said Bacon. NST made Inc. Magazine’s 5000 list of one of the fastest growing private U.S. companies.

New entrant in complex rehab market ready to ship

TONAWANDA, N.Y. – The new ROVI X3 power base with Motion Concepts power positioning is ready to ship. The wheelchair from ROVI Mobility, a division of Shoprider, and Motion Concepts, is initially being offered in the K0856 and K0861 codes. “The new ROVI X3 power base gives providers and clinicians easy access to the modularity and function of Motion Concepts Ultra Low Maxx power positioning technology and Invacare Matrx Seating and positioning via one order form and one phone call to provide a complete solution to power mobility needs,” according to a press release. Shoprider announced plans to enter the complex rehab market in September 2013.

Study: Disconnect on diabetes awareness

BETHESDA, Md. – More than half of the U.S. public doesn’t know that diabetes can cause other major health issues, according to a new survey.

Although 64% of Americans know someone with diabetes, 57% don’t realize the disease can cause heart disease, kidney failure and blindness, among other issues, according to a study from Telcare, a digital health company.

Furthermore, 63% of Americans don’t know the difference between Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes, according to the survey.

“The index clearly shows the striking knowledge gap among both the general public and those living with diabetes, and the serious need for increased public awareness and advocacy for additional funding research," said Andy Flanagan, CEO OF Telcare. "What is needed is a different approach to disease management, one that creates meaningful data that medical professionals can use to help provide the level of personalized care consumers demand." 

More than 1 in 10 Americans (29.1 million) has diabetes. The majority of those (27.85 million) have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The survey also found that 70% of people are interested in using technology to track their family’s health and fitness. The most trusting of technology: millennials (18 to 34 years old), 55% of whom trust a health app over a health professional alone for advice. 

Former Olympian set to headline Heartland Conference

WATERLOO, Iowa – Amy Van Dyjen will give the keynote speech at this year’s VGM Heartland Conference held June 15-18 in Waterloo, Iowa. Van Dyjen, a six-time Olympic gold medalist and paraplegic, severed her spinal cord in an ATV accident one year ago, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Van Dyjen’s story gained national attention in May when she stood on her own for the first time since the accident on Good Morning America. This year’s conference will also feature VGM TIP talks—short talks from business innovators and a political expert—as well as the unveiling of Access Day USA, a national campaign to provide home modifications for people in need. 

Sleep Specialists device used in OSA study

BALA CYNWYD, Pa. – Sleep Specialists’ Zzoma Positional Device was used in a study researching cost effectiveness of positional therapy to help treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the medical device company announced last week. Conducted by Temple University of Philadelphia, the study found that with the 24% of patients who had positional OSA therapy and used the Zzoma Positional Device, the result was a cost savings of 21% compared to if all patients were treated with CPAP therapy. “The new study only solidified what we already knew: incorporating positional devices into sleep apnea treatment algorithms are highly cost effective,” said Sila Yesilsoy, COO of Sleep Specialists in a release. 

Tricare implements new breast pump policy

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Service members and their spouses will be able to receive free breastfeeding supplies, lactation services, and any manual, electric or hospital grade breast pump under a new policy. Beneficiaries can present their prescription at a pharmacy or medical equipment provider and receive a breast pump at no charge or purchase the pumps from any retailer and submit their receipt and a copy of their prescription to Tricare for reimbursement. Those who purchased a breast pump or other supplies covered by the policy on or after Dec. 19, 2014, can also seek reimbursement. In addition to breast pumps, the policy covers pump power adapters, tubing and tubing adaptors, locking rings, bottles, bottle caps, shield or splash protectors, and breast milk storage bags. The policy will be implemented July 1, 2015. 

Negative pressure wound therapy market poised for growth

LONDON – The global market for negative pressure wound therapy will expand from $700 million in 2014 to about $1.07 billion by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate of 6.2%, according to new research from consulting firm GlobalData. The increase will be driven primarily by increasing physician awareness of the technique and its various applications, according to the firm. “As the education of physicians improves and they gain access to more robust clinical data from large, randomized trials, the outlook for the NPWT market looks strong, with room for further product improvement with next-generation devices and accessories,” stated Premdharan Meyyan, GlobalData’s analyst covering medical devices, in a release.

Older and younger patients benefit from CPAP therapy equally

SEATTLE – There’s little difference in improvement for older vs. younger patients treated with CPAP therapy, according to a study from the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Iowa. Researchers evaluated data from 88 patients with both mild and moderate-to-severe newly diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea and categorized them into age groups: younger (less than 55 years) and older (65 or older). After four months of therapy, they found there was a 37% reduction in the Epwroth Sleepiness Scale in both groups. The study was presented last week as part of SLEEP 2015.

Short takes: BioScrip, Compression Solutions, Inogen

Elmsford, N.Y.-based BioScrip has extended the expiration date of its offer to exchange up to $200 million in aggregate principal amount of 8.875% senior notes due 2021. The offer will expire on June 16 instead of June 9 at 5 p.m. EST…Tulsa-based Compression Solutions hosted a grand opening on June 11 for its new $24 million facility. The 20,000-square-foot building allows the company to consolidate its three separate facilities into one space, putting its 40 employees under one roof…Goleta, Calif.-based Inogen has been honored as “Company of the Year” at the South Coast Business & Technology Awards. “The prestigious award is given to a company that is a market leader as demonstrated by its profitability, business development and completion of its strategic objectives,” said Susan Rodriguez, co-chairwoman of the award’s Steering Committee.