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In brief: Accessories reprieve, oxygen challenge, advocate of the year

In brief: Accessories reprieve, oxygen challenge, advocate of the year

WASHINGTON – CMS has announced a 90-day suspension of scheduled Medicare cuts to accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs, NCART reports. 

That extends an 18-month suspension that would have expired on July 1 to Oct. 1. 

“They will use this time for further analysis and, hopefully, a permanent suspension,” Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, tweeted today. “Thank you advocates, Congress and CMS.” 

On Monday, a letter led by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., and signed by 19 members of Congress was sent to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure asking her to stop the Medicare payment cuts. 

CMS said it is extending the suspension based on several factors: 

Beneficiaries with disabilities such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury often rely on complex rehabilitative wheelchairs and accessories to maximize their function and independence. 

It is important to avoid any potential operational difficulties for suppliers, our partners in the Medicaid program or private payers that have elected to rely on the DMEPOS fee schedule that could result from frequent updates to the Medicare fee schedules. 

Finally, this action is consistent with prior Medicare program policy actions related to similar accessories for complex power rehabilitative wheelchairs as described in section 2 of the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act of 2015. 

"CMS is actively reviewing public comments submitted to the agency on related rulemakings, including engaging in future rulemaking, and will update interested stakeholders and suppliers when more information is available,” the agency said.   

Philips recall: AASM calls for support from CMS, payers 

DARIEN, Ill. – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and other professional organizations are making the case to CMS and private payers that the 90-day adherence rule for PAP therapy should be temporarily suspended in the wake of the Philips recall. 

“Given that many patients will be affected by the recall, we are requesting support from CMS and private payers to temporarily suspend the 90-day adherence rule to allow patients to have existing equipment repaired or receive new equipment from DME suppliers,” the letter states. 

The American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Thoracic Society, the Alliance of Sleep Apnea Partners and the American Sleep Apnea Association joined the AASM in sending the letter to CMS and private payers. 

The groups also make the case for CMS making an exception to the RUL requirements for the equipment repairs or replacements that will result from the recall. 

“Our societies believe that it is both reasonable and necessary to allow DME suppliers to repair or replace the recalled equipment without requiring documentation of a new clinical evaluation, sleep test or trial period, and do not think patients should be responsible for the repair or replacement costs,” the letter states. 

To read the letter to CMS in full, go here

To ready the letter to private payers, go here

OSHA weighs in on COVID workplace safety 

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks comments on an *interim final rule, the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), that has been posted to the Federal Register website.  

 The ETS stems from an executive order signed by President Biden in January 2021 to protect worker health and safety. It directed OSHA to take action to reduce the risk for workers of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. 

The ETS contains several requirements that apply to most settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services, including DME suppliers and home health agencies. Employers will have 14 to 30 days to comply, depending on the standard. 

Key requirements of the ETS include: 

The employer must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan for each workplace. If the employer has more than 10 employees, the COVID-19 plan must be in writing. 

The employer must designate one or more workplace COVID-19 safety coordinators to implement and monitor the COVID-19 plan. 

The employer must conduct a workplace-specific hazard assessment to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19. 

For an employer to be exempt from providing controls based on employees’ fully vaccinated status, the COVID-19 plan must include policies and procedures to determine employees’ vaccination status. 

The employer must seek the input and involvement of non-managerial employees and their representatives, if any, in the hazard assessment and the development and implementation of the COVID-19 plan. 

The employer must monitor each workplace to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the COVID-19 plan and update it as needed. 

An employer’s COVID-19 plan must also address the hazards identified by the assessment and include policies and procedures to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for each employee and effectively communicate and coordinate with other employers when workspace is shared by multiple employers. 

Additionally, the COVID-19 plan must contain provisions that protect employees who enter into private residences or other physical locations controlled by a person not covered by the OSH Act (e.g., homeowners, sole proprietors). This must include procedures for employees to withdraw from that location if those protections are inadequate. 

Senators re-introduce bill to improve access to custom breast prosthetics 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on June 15 re-introduced legislation to ensure that breast cancer patients and survivors who have had a mastectomy are able to access custom breast prosthetics under Medicare. 

The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act of 2021 would provide coverage for custom fabricated breast prostheses – which, unlike other prosthetic devices, aren’t covered by Medicare – to more than 100,000 women who undergo mastectomies annually, according to Essentially Women, a division of the VGM Group. 

“We can do so much more to help survivors of breast cancer return to health and achieve the best quality of life,” Duckworth said. “This bi-partisan legislation is an important step in continuing to expand health care coverage for women and achieving health equity for older women and women of color.” 

Duckworth and Murkowski were joined by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in introducing the legislation. 

Similar legislation introduced in the 116th Congress drew support from 4 co-sponsors.  

AdvaMed urges Biden to prioritize transportation of medical equipment 

WASHINGTON – AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whittaker has asked President Biden to make the transport of medical supplies and equipment a “top priority” during the current logistics and transport crisis. 

“While we appreciate that multiple industries are affected by these disruptions, we believe the implications for the health care system and patient care are imperative as we head into the fall, which brings with it flu season and uncertainty around COVID-19 variants in unvaccinated populations,” the letter states. 

AdvaMed points out in the letter that the challenges at major U.S. and international ports – including container shortages, limited unloading space and insufficient trucking capacity – continue as purchasing behavior in the country has dramatically shifted during the pandemic. 

The association also highlighted how the medical device industry has ramped up to around-the-clock operations to meet the increased demand due to the pandemic – exponentially increasing PPE production, ramping up ventilator manufacturing by more than tenfold and shipping more than 1 billion tests in the U.S. within 15 months. 

AdvaMed thanked the administration for its efforts to ensure patients have the care they need stating, “In particular, we’ve appreciated the dedicated work of your COVID-19 response team, which has been working tirelessly to address supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions to facilitate our industry’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.”  

AdvaMed is a medical technology association representing more than 400 companies. 

Medicaid, CHIP enrollees increase 13.9% 

WASHINGTON – A record more than 80 million individuals now have health coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), according to a new Enrollment Trends Snapshot Report that CMS released this week. 

Nearly 9.9 million individuals, a 13.9% increase, enrolled in coverage between February 2020, the month before the public health emergency was declared, and January 2021, according to the report, which is released monthly. 

“This report reminds us what a critical program and rock Medicaid continues to be in giving tens of millions of children and adults access to care,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. “This pandemic taught us that now more than, we must work to strengthen Medicaid and make it available whenever and wherever it’s needed using the unprecedented investments Congress provided.” 

The increase in total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is largely attributed to the impact of the PHE, in particular, enactment of section 6008 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. FFCRA provides states with a temporary 6.2% payment increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding. States qualify for the funding by adhering to the Maintenance of Effort requirement, which ensures eligible people enrolled in Medicaid stay enrolled and covered during the PHE. 

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, a total of 80,543,351 people were enrolled and receiving full benefits from the Medicaid and CHIP programs by the end of January 2021. In the 50 states that reported total Medicaid child and CHIP enrollment data for January 2021, more than 38.3 million children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP combined, approximately 50% of the total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment. 

Registration opens for AAH Legislative Conference 

WASHINGTON – Registration is open for AAHomecare’s first-ever Virtual Washington Legislative Conference, which takes place Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. Along with partner Advocacy Associates, AAHomecare will schedule meetings and provide a Zoom link to use for conversations with legislators and key members of staff. The association will also provide training on Sept. 22 at 2:30pm ET that will cover how to use its meeting site and issue education. The cost is $129 for members and $149 for non-members. Register here

Crowdsourcing platform launches challenge to develop better oxygen solution 

BETHESDA, Md. – HeroX, a social network and crowdsourcing platform, has launched the “Air You Wear Challenge” on behalf of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The challenge seeks to develop more portable, easy-to-use options for patients on supplemental oxygen. Patients who use oxygen consistently say oxygen should be lighter and more portable. “This is the perfect opportunity to tap the global network to solve a problem that affects so many people,” said Christian Cotichini, CEO, HeroX. “The options currently on the market don’t live up to our innovative capacity: oxygen cylinders are heavy and cumbersome, and oxygen concentrators have limited battery life, precluding some patients from being able to use them.” The two-phase challenge will award a total of $500,000 in prizes. In Phase 1, up to eight teams proposing the most compelling and impactful solutions will each receive up to $50,000 to help develop a working prototype and/or demonstration of their proposed approach during the Phase 2 development period. At the end of Phase 2, up to three teams will be awarded first, second and third prizes of $60,000, $30,000 and $10,000, respectively, for the best prototypes/demonstrations. 

AARC releases videos to thank RTs 

IRVING, Texas – The American Association of Respiratory Care has released a series of new videos, “Thank a Respiratory Therapist,” to help increase community awareness of the profession and highlight the essential role RTs have played in patient care during COVID-19 and beyond. “Like many health care professionals working on the front lines of the pandemic, respiratory therapists worked tirelessly and selflessly to help patients everywhere,” said Sheri Tooley, president and CEO. “They are essential to patients in all care settings. They provide unique, specialized skills to the patients they care for. And for that, we say thank you. Thank you to respiratory therapists everywhere for your commitment to saving lives every day.” The videos are available in English and Spanish and can be found on YouTube and the AARC website

Roll on Capitol Hill names Advocate of Year 

WASHINGTON – Natalie Barnhard was named the recipient of the Finn Bullers Advocate of the Year Award at this year’s United Spinal Association Roll on Capitol Hill event, which took place virtually June 14-16. Barnhard is the chapter leader of the Western New York Chapter of United Spinal and the founder and president of Motion Project Foundation. She has been a wheelchair user for 16 years, following a spinal cord injury while at work as a physical therapy assistant (PTA).  In September, the Natalie Barnhard Center for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and Recovery will celebrate its grand opening. This year’s Roll on Capitol Hill drew about 200 attendees from across the country. 

PHS grows presence in Ohio 

ROSEVILLE, Minn. – Pediatric Home Service has expanded its services in Ohio, partnering with Advanced Medical Equipment and Central Ohio Specialty Care, a division of AME. “Our mission of providing at-home solutions for medically complex pediatric patients remains at the forefront of everything we do,” said Cameo Zehnder, CEO of PHS. “We hope this partnership expands our ability to support not only the family, but also the health care professional team, empowering them to make decisions in the best interest of the patient.” In October, PHS expanded its presence in Texas, when it partnered with San Antonio-based Alliance Medical Supply. The provider has locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. 

Inogen names incoming counsel 

GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen’s board of directors has appointed Jason Somer as executive vice president and general counsel and secretary, effective July 12. “On behalf of the board, I would like to congratulate Jason on this appointment as I believe that he will be a tremendous asset to Inogen and a great addition to our executive team,” said Nabil Shabshab, CEO. “I believe Jason’s 25 years of experience in general counsel and attorney roles will be a great enabler in building a stronger Inogen and further strengthening our legal and compliance functions as we continue to evolve and roll out our ongoing growth strategy.” Somer currently serves as head legal counsel at Invoca, a SaaS analytics company. Prior to that, he served as associate general counsel at Sunniva, and as general counsel and corporate secretary for Innova Gaming Group. 

NSM named Top Workplace 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2021 honor by The Tennessean for the third consecutive year. The list is based solely on anonymous employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by Energage, an employee engagement technology company. “As reflected in our core values, NSM team members consistently have our clients’ best interests at heart,” said Bill Mixon, CEO. “Despite serving some of the most vulnerable populations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team continued to work seamlessly to ensure mobility and accessibility needs were met for our clients.” The survey measures workplace culture, including alignment, coaching, connection, engagement, leadership and performance, as well as basics like pay, benefits, flexibilities and more. NSM operates 182 branches across the U.S. and Canada, with more than 2,300 employees, 70 of whom work in the Franklin, Tenn.-based corporate office and middle-Tennessee branches, and 250 of whom work in the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based operations center and branch. 

Short takes: Supreme Medical, Admiral Medical Supplies, Reliable Medical, Soleo Health, OneDrop

Supreme Medical Fulfillment has become a silver associate sponsor of the Georgia Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (GAMES). “Being a faster company matters today more than ever,” said Colton Mason, senior vice president. “If we receive an order by 4:30 p.m. ET, Supreme is able to deliver those supplies or equipment to a patient’s home or provider’s location in Georgia within one or two days. In a time when some vendors are struggling to get orders delivered within a week, we feel our speed gives us a powerful message to talk about with GAMES members.” The company, a family-owned distributor based in Theodore, Ala., will be exhibiting at the upcoming GAMES Annual Meeting Aug. 1-3 in St. Simons Island, Ga…Admiral Medical Supplies opened its doors in June in Flower Mound, Texas. The company is currently accepting customers only by appointment, but it expects to be fully open on July 1. Admiral Medical Supplies sells, rents and repairs home medical equipment...Reliable Medical has been recognized as a Top Workplaces 2021 by the Star Tribune for the seventh consecutive year. The Minneapolis-based provider operates 10 branches across Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky with more than 150 employees…Soleo Health has named Becky Rand vice president of business development, industry relations. Rand has more than 20 years of experience in specialty pharmacy, most recently as vice president, manufacturer relations at ExceleraRx…OneDrop has appointed Carrie Siragusa as vice president of commercial strategy. Siragusa has more than 15 years of financial, operational and marketing experience in public and private organizations in the pharmaceutical, health sciences and life sciences, most recently leading the Innovation and Diabetes Portfolio team at Sanofi. 

Tomorrow Health recruits Amazon exec 

NEW YORK – Krishnakumar Rajagopalan has left Amazon, where he spent seven years building systems for retail, advertising and AWS, to join Tomorrow Health as head of engineering. Rajagopalan was part of teams at Amazon building e-commerce search engines, fulfillment systems, advertising systems and a new AWS AI service. “I have joined Tomorrow Health as the head of engineering where I will continue my journey as a builder – building systems that will improve the lives of millions of patients and their families,” he said. Aside from the impact of working for Tomorrow Health, Rajagopalan said he joined the company because of its technology challenges. “Our tech stack spans what one might expect from a tech-enabled marketplace, but with a health care twist,” he said. “We are building interfaces to medical systems, order workflows, fulfillment technology and data systems to track operations by the minute – all with a specialized focus on the clinic rules and routing technology that exists within health care. There is a lot of opportunity to work on real world problems and build systems to scale, with each workflow directly resulting in better care for a patient in need.”   

Rehab Medical invests in employee growth 

INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical has appointed Julie Klarich as director of employee development and engagement. She will lead the company’s enrichment initiatives, including the Your Better Self initiative launched in 2020. “Having a great company starts with having great employees,” said Kevin Gearheart, president. “We have invested a lot of time and energy coming up with some great initiatives geared toward employee development and engagement, and now we have someone who is a perfect fit to lead these initiatives.” Klarich has spent more than a decade providing professional development, organizational leadership and relationship management consulting. She was most recently director of affiliate relations at the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and previously a consultant at Eli Lilly. Rehab Medical’s Your Better Self Program works to develop employee skills through various training programs, such as the Leadership Exploration and Development (LEAD) program, and mentorship programs dedicated to coaching new hires in the first six months. 

Oventus highlights DTC business 

BRISBANE, Australia – Oventus Medical says current data indicate that 60% of all patient referrals are coming direct-to-consumer from through two websites: and Additionally, the company says the number of telehealth consultations scheduled has increased 25% in the current quarter compared to the previous quarter. “Since Oventus launched its telehealth initiative as a result of COVID-19, the patient funnel has captured more than 2,000 patients,” the company stated in an update. “This growing database of interested patients looking to access Oventus Airway Technology informs the company’s marketing strategy and underpins future growth. As this program matures over the coming months and digital assets are redeveloped with improved visibility on conversion rates and customer acquisition costs, the return on investment into this channel will become more predictable and investment into this channel can be prioritized to accelerate sales growth.” Oventus also announced that Sleep Clinic Services in Brisbane has signed on to the company’s virtual lab-in-lab program. Under the agreement, Sleep Clinic Services will market and distribute O2Vent therapy to patients through the program.


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