Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Editor, HME News

It’s high summer. Congress is in recess.

It’s tougher than ever to get anyone on the phone, and your e-mail inbox is never so likely to pop as now with automatic, out-of-office replies from people on vacation. Is there a better time to peddle erratic musings on the industry’s state of affairs?

K0011s. In March of this year, the number of Medicare beneficiaries who received K0011 power wheelchairs in the Region C DMERC actually went up for the first time since April 2003. In Feb., K0011 Region C suppliers delivered 5,633 chairs. At the high-water mark in April 2003, Region C suppliers delivered 15,284. In March of this year, the Region C number jumped to 6,183. Although it’s too soon to tell, February of this year may go down as the low-water mark for K0011 claims.

iBot cartoon (in print issue). Take this one with a grain salt. None of the 37 users now propelling iBots has actually spun out of control. The problem J&J discovered in its splashy, new power chair was in the factory, not on the stairway. But when a J&J spokesman tells you that iBots are prone to spin around in a full circle and fall over, how is it that one’s funny bone would not crack at that?

Mega Medtrade Party. You got your VGM Party. You got your Pride party. You got your HME Excellence Awards ceremony. Hot tickets, every one. This year, there’s another mega-party/fundraiser shaping up like a cross between American Idol and the Last Comic Standing. If you play in a corporate band, if you’ve got a stand-up routine, if you’ve got any kind of talent that plays on a stage, get your act together on a video or DVD and ready it for submission. VNU is working with a California company to roll out a bash that, if it all comes together, stands a pretty good shot of becoming a Medtrade institution. Look for the green light on this event in an upcoming HME Newswire, if you haven’t seen it already.

Respiratory Meds. Here’s an issue that’s going down to the wire. In the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CMS revealed an 89% cut to neb-meds. Breathtaking? Not really. The national suppliers share prices barely budged on the news, though they - Lincare especially - haven’t really bounced back to pinnacles ascended before the MMA. Unless CMS kicks in with a respectable service fee, or overhead fee, in addition to this dispensing fee, Lincare is threatening to walk away from the business. Will they? If they do, it’ll take some real gumption since Medicare allowed two Lincare pharmacy divisions to file claims for reimbuirsement and bill beneficiaries for about $250 million last year.