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In brief: CMS moves on proposed rule, Paragon closes four deals, VGM updates bid study

In brief: CMS moves on proposed rule, Paragon closes four deals, VGM updates bid study

WASHINGTON – CMS has sent the DMEPOS proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for final review, AAHomecare reports. 

A letter asking CMS to act on the rule, published a year ago, garnered 95 signatures from members of the House of Representatives, including champions on the influential Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees. 

“Capitol Hill is starting to understand the market realities and new operational environment that suppliers and manufacturers are facing, thanks to the effective grassroots advocacy efforts from so many HME leaders,” said Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president and CEO. 

The rule would, among other things, continue the 50/50 blended rates for rural areas and adjust payment amounts in non-competitive bidding areas. 

Final approval from the OMB is required for regulations with potentially significant budgetary impacts.  There is no set timeframe for the OMB to give their OK – the process could take a few days or stretch on further, according to AAHomecare.   

“We need OMB to move quickly to finish work on the rule,” Ryan said. 

Paragon Ventures announces four respiratory focused deals 

WAYNE, Pa. – Paragon Ventures has announced a number of deals, including the acquisition of Marra’s Homecare, a family owned HME company specializing in respiratory and rehab equipment and services, by KPH Healthcare Services, a national provider of pharmaceutical and health care services. 

Marra’s Homecare has grown to multiple locations throughout upstate New York. 

Paragon has also announced the acquisition of OlyHealth/Olympia Respiratory Services, a provider of respiratory, sleep and CPAP supplies with six locations throughout Washington state, to AdaptHealth. 

Additionally, it has announced the acquisition of Infiniti Medical Solutions, a regional provider of high-tech respiratory equipment, including ventilators and respiratory assist devices, to a private-equity backed strategic buyer; and the acquisition of Aircare Medical, a provider of respiratory equipment and sleep therapy equipment and CPAP supplies in California, to Lincare. 

VGM, Leitten update bid study 

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Government Relations, in conjunction with Brian Leitten and Leitten Consulting, has released an updated study analyzing efforts by CMS to control distribution of DME. The study, “Competitive Bidding – A Decade Focused on the Wrong Prize. The Case for Medicare Investment in DME in 2021,” looks at how competitive bidding generated savings and reduced fraud but missed an even larger opportunity to invest in DME. “The costs that CMS saved over a decade of focusing on the wrong prize pale in comparison to the real prize: reducing the cost of treating injuries and illnesses that befall Medicare beneficiaries who lack the critical DME they need to stay well,” said Brian Leitten, head of Leitten Consulting. “CMS continues to bear this enormous cost, which has constantly grown over the decade and now stands at an estimated total of $98 billion annually in three DME categories: mobility DME, oxygen therapy and CPAP therapy equipment and supplies.” VGM first engaged Leitten Consulting in 2010 to examine the costs associated with falls, COPD and OSA, and how investing in DME could save billions annually. The study, paid for by Last Chance for Patients Choice, has been updated every few years. 

Medtrade announces product awards 

ATLANTA – The Belluscura X-PLO2R portable oxygen concentrator won the Providers’ Choice Gold at Medtrade East in Atlanta on Oct. 20. The POC, which is approved by the FAA for travel, weighs only 3.75 pounds and features an attached eight-cell battery that lasts up to five hours. The Dignity Lifts – Deluxe Toilet Lift – DL1 won the Providers’ Choice Silver Award. The lift helps users get up from and down to the toilet. The Breas Medical Vivo 45 LS, a life support ventilator for adult and pediatric patients, won the Providers’ Choice Bronze Award. The New Product Pavilion Providers’ Choice Awards are sponsored by HomeCare Magazine. 

HHS extends PHE 

WASHINGTON – Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for another 90 days from Oct. 18. There are a number of HME-related provisions tied to the PHE, including Medicare’s 75/25 blended rates for non-rural, non-competitive bidding areas, and telehealth and other policy waivers. Becerra will next consider an extension in January 2022. 

Drive’s Schwartz to retire 

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Jeff Schwartz, co-founder of Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, has announced he is retiring March 31, 2022. Schwartz co-founded Medical Depot, which eventually became Drive Medical and then Drive DeVilbiss, in 2000. During his 22-year tenure, he has helped to grow the company to more than $1 billion in revenues. “I’m very proud to have had the privilege to guide Drive DeVilbiss from start up to its current leadership position in the industry,” Schwartz said. “I’ve been fortunate to have developed many great relationships with co-workers, customers and industry leaders. I appreciate the leadership and mentorship that I’ve received and have been able to pass along to others over the years. While it’s always hard to pick your exit, I feel the time is right, and I have full confidence in the strong management team that we have developed at Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare.” Drive has developed a detail leadership transition plan, with Tony Crisitello, a 30-year industry veteran, assuming Schwartz’s responsibilities as chief customer officer, North America. Additionally, Steve Wakser, a 13-year veteran of the company, will become senior vice president of homecare for both North America and South America. 

OIG on telehealth: Bennies stick with established providers 

WASHINGTON – The majority of Medicare beneficiaries (84%) received telehealth services only from providers with whom they had an established relationship, the Office of Inspector General has found. Those enrolled in traditional Medicare were more likely to receive services from providers with whom they had an established relationship compared to beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage, it found. “This pattern persisted among virtually all of the most common telehealth services,” the OIG states in its study. “Beneficiaries tended to see their providers in person about four months prior to their first telehealth service, on average.” To conduct the study, the OIG reviewed Medicare claims data for telehealth services provided from March through December 2020. It determined the proportion of beneficiaries who received telehealth services only from providers with whom they had an established relationship and looked for any differences among the 10 most common types of telehealth services, and between beneficiaries enrolled in traditional Medicare and those enrolled in Medicare Advantage. For beneficiaries who had an established relationship with their providers, it determined the average amount of time between their first telehealth service and their most recent in-person visit for each of their providers. “(This) data can be used to inform decisions about how to best use telehealth in Medicare and should be taken into account as policymakers continue to examine telehealth utilization and concerns about telehealth being vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse,” the OIG states. “This includes decisions about which services to allow to be delivered via telehealth on a more permanent basis and to what extent Medicare should require that beneficiaries have a relationship with their providers prior to receiving certain telehealth services.”

NCPA, MPECrx launch minority program 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association is partnering with the Minority Pharmacist Entrepreneur Conference to launch Pathways to Pharmacy Ownership, a new initiative that encourages and supports independent pharmacy ownership among minority pharmacists. Pathways is a year-long, application-based program where selected pharmacists will gain: access to pharmacy owner-mentors, help with business plan review from industry experts, scholarships to NCPA’s Pharmacy Ownership Workshop and more. “People get into independent pharmacy, in particular, because of the key role you can play in your community,” said Michele Belcher, president of the NCPA and owner of Grants Pass Pharmacy in Grants Pass, Ore. “You not only run the pharmacy, but you live and shop where your patients do. You get to know them, and in return, they grow to know and trust you. NCPA is proud to be partnering with MPECrx to help more pharmacists from historically underrepresented backgrounds become successful pharmacy owners, serve the needs of neighbors and improve local health and well-being.” Applications for the program are being accepted through Nov. 5, with virtual interviews taking place in mid-November. Click here to apply. 

Option Care expects double-digit growth in Q3 

BANNOCKBURN, Ill. – Option Care Health has released preliminary financial results for the third quarter ending Sept. 30, including net revenue of about $888 million to $893 million, representing 14% growth compared to the same period last year. The company expects net income of about $33 million to $36 million. Option Care also expects to report adjusted EBITDA of about $76 million to $79 million, representing 28% to 34% growth; cash flow from operations of about $50 million to $52 million; and ending cash balance of about $200 million. The company will release its full financial results on Nov. 4. Option Care reported net revenue of $860.3 million for the second quarter, up 16.1% compared to the same period last year.

Tunberg to drive next generation of solutions at Permobil 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Permobil has appointed Catharina Tunberg to lead its global research and development efforts. As executive vice president of research and development, her mission will be to drive the next generation of advanced assistive solutions by coupling design, engineering, digitalization and clinical evidence. This encompasses hardware, software and services within power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, seating solutions and power assist devices. “Bringing innovative solutions to the market, or moreover to the people who use our products, is part of Permobil’s DNA,” said Bengt Thorsson, Permobil CEO. “Catharina’s broad knowledge of cloud-based solutions, hardware technology, product development and product quality fits perfectly into that and will take us to the next phase on our journey.” Tunberg joins Permobil following a long career at ASSA ABLOY and Ericsson, where she has held various senior management positions within R&D, sales, marketing, and business and strategy development. Most recently, she was the chief technology officer for the Global Solutions Division at ASSA ABLOY. Tunberg replaces Catharina Modahl-Nilsson. 

United Spinal expands relief efforts through grant 

WASHINGTON – The United Spinal Association has been awarded a grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to support the immediate relief and recovery efforts for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders following natural and human-caused disasters, including hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. With support provided by foundation, United Spinal is offering disaster relief grants to its 53,000 members across the country who have been impacted by disasters through the loss or damage of mobility equipment and lack of access to medical supplies. “United Spinal is grateful for the Neilsen Foundation’s support during these challenging times that have exposed the vulnerability of the SCI/D community to natural and human-caused disasters,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, president and CEO of United Spinal Association. “This partnership is invaluable to ensuring that we can continue to lessen the effects and risks associated with disasters on our members and the entire disability community.” The grant will also be used to expand United Spinal’s ‘Ready to Roll’ disaster preparedness initiative, which focuses on equipping wheelchair users and others living with SCI/D with information on preparing in advance for disasters by creating evacuation plans, keeping inventory of mobility equipment, creating “wheelchair go bags” filled with essential supplies, and locating local resources and accessible shelters. 

Numotion named preferred provider by Team Gleason 

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has announced a strategic, five-year partnership with Team Gleason to improve access to and development of advanced equipment and technology to serve people and families living with ALS. As part of the partnership, Numotion has been named Team Gleason’s “Preferred CRT Provider.” “We are honored and excited to partner with Team Gleason,” said Mike Swinford, CEO Numotion. “Team Gleason’s impact on ALS awareness and advocacy is immeasurable. We share their deep commitment to improving the lives of those living with ALS and their families. In 2020 alone, Numotion served more than 1,000 individuals with ALS. Through this partnership, we will be able to impact even more people living with the disease.” Over the last year, Team Gleason has provided more than 400 wheelchair lifts through Numotion and is currently on track to exceed that amount in 2021. The partnership has also sparked the formation of the Numotion/Team Gleason Peer2Peer ALS Council to provide oversight and advice for operating and accepting new technologies and funding processes, and to contribute clinical expertise. “This partnership extends from input in Team Gleason’s Wheelchair Guide to the creation of educational videos, as well as advocating for issues relevant to the ALS community,” said Blair Casey, chief impact officer, Team Gleason. “I am confident this collaboration will fast-track emerging accessible solutions for all.”


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