Most read: Vents dominated headlines in 2018

Thursday, January 24, 2019

As so often happens, 2018 was a year that saw forward progress, even as CMS seemed poised to take at least one giant step backward, as is reflected in our Top 5 most-read specialty provider stories.

Even as it put the competitive bidding program on hold for retooling in November, CMS couldn’t resist trying to sweep more products into the program—ventilators made the shortlist—which caused alarm for providers in our No. 1 most-read specialty story, “CMS doubles down on vents.”

Not only were industry stakeholders caught completely off-guard by the proposal—after all, CMS had tried to do so once before with non-invasive vents then backed off—but the agency wants to include invasive and new multi-function vents, as well, a dangerous precedent, say providers who care for these fragile patients.

Less surprising was the news that Performant Recovery, the national recovery contractor for HME, was targeting both invasive and non-invasive vents for widespread complex reviews in our No. 2 most-read specialty story, “Vents: RACs join the party.”

Maybe when there’s more hard data on the effectiveness of non-invasive vents in treating patients CMS will be convinced of their value? At least that’s the hope behind a new study in our No 5 most-read specialty provider story, “Viemed works to elevate NIV.”

Viemed, which cares for more than 6,000 patients, has commissioned KPMG to undertake a multi-phase study on the use of non-invasive vents in treating chronic respiratory failure and COPD. The first results, released in October, show that patients using vents at home have the lowest overall costs and hospital rates, a win-win for everyone.

Speaking of winners, providers say they are seeing an increase in interest for travel CPAPs, in our No. 3 most-read specialty story, “Travel CPAP ready for ‘next wave.’” Not only do the portable devices make it easier for sleep apnea patients to stick with their therapy, the devices actually look “cool,” a description not typically applied to DME.

Rounding out the list is our No. 4 most-read specialty provider story, “Mail-order changes a ‘good first step.’” The 2019 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services included provisions that would require CMS to enforce its own rules for the national mail-order diabetes program, thus preserving beneficiary access, which in turn, has been shown to improve outcomes and reduce hospitalizations.