What a first half of the year it’s been

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07/13/2020

It being July (how did that happen—very quickly and very slowly at the same time), I logged into Google Analytics to find the most read stories for the first half of the year.

Not surprisingly, all but one of the five most read stories are related to the coronavirus pandemic (see list with links below).

Let’s start with that one story that’s not related to the pandemic: “‘Wiser’ CMS executes new order” (No. 2). It was a big deal when CMS decided to replace four types of orders with one standard written order or SWO. This makes it a lot easier for prescribers and providers to comply with requirements and helps to eliminate potential future audits.

I’m actually making a mental note to revisit the SWO, as back in January, when we wrote about this change, industry stakeholders were still waiting for “the dust to settle” and had inquired about a few “gray areas.”

The No. 1 story, “CMS loosens requirements for respiratory equipment,” was also a big deal. The agency decided, due to the pandemic, to temporarily waive the coverage criteria and face-to-face requirements for respiratory equipment during the length of the public health emergency. This, along with CMS’s decision to allow prescribers to use telehealth, has gone a long way toward keeping referral streams flowing during the pandemic.

The No. 3 story, like the two stories above, deals with the nitty-gritty of doing business, in this case relief that has helped providers to stay in business during the pandemic. “Package provides relief to HME industry ‘on the front lines’” details a stimulus package passed by Congress that extended the 50/50 blended rate to rural areas and created a new 75/25 rate retroactive to March 6, for non-rural, non-bid areas for the length of the emergency.

The other two most read stories, “Viemed’s Casey Hoyt on the RTs behind the vents” and “HME stands out as solution amid pandemic,” detail the important role the industry has played in the response effort to the pandemic. Shameless plug for our upcoming virtual HME News Business Summit: That second story will jump off the page into real life in a session with the CEOs of the industry’s national providers.

The second half of 2020 will continue to be dominated by the pandemic, but there will be an added layer of complexity due to Round 2021 of Medicare’s competitive bidding program. Will CMS announce the pricing this summer and the contract suppliers this fall as planned? Will the agency delay? With industry stakeholders saying CMS must make a decision sooner rather than later, we’re soon to find out.

Most read stories, January-June

CMS loosens requirements for respiratory equipment
Some fear, however, that new guidance is not explicit
WASHINGTON – CMS in an interim final rule published March 30 appeared to significantly expand access to respiratory therapy by temporarily waiving the coverage criteria and face-to-face requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.

'Wiser' CMS executes new order
WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are cautiously optimistic that CMS’s new standard written order will streamline documentation and reduce denials for HME.

Package provides relief to HME industry ‘on the front lines’
WASHINGTON – A stimulus package passed by Congress this afternoon will provide a financial boost to HME providers caring for patients during the current coronavirus pandemic, but there’s more work to be done, say industry stakeholders.

Viemed’s Casey Hoyt on the RTs behind the vents
LAFAYETTE, La. – Viemed Healthcare has been supplying ventilators to healthcare facilities around the country and educating them on using the high-tech devices, even as it maintains its own role in treating patients in the home to free up hospital beds for COVID-19 cases.

HME stands out as solution amid pandemic
YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers are the “pressure release valve” for acute care facilities that are expected to strain from the number of patients who have COVID-19 and need care.