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In brief: Oxygen reform, POC efficacy, O&P WOY 

In brief: Oxygen reform, POC efficacy, O&P WOY 

WASHINGTON – A coalition of patient, provider and professional organizations calls on Congress to support and cosponsor the Supplemental Oxygen Access Reform (SOAR) Act, legislation that seeks to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the correct type and levels of oxygen, in a new letter. 

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, COPD Foundation, Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC) and Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation spearheaded the letter. 

“The Supplemental Oxygen Access Reform or SOAR Act is critical to the lives of more than 1.5 million people in the U.S. facing serious health risks because they do not currently have access to the appropriate supplemental oxygen equipment and services,” they stated.  “People with advanced or serious lung or heart diseases may require supplemental oxygen to ensure their bodies receive enough oxygen to keep their blood saturated and to allow their organs to function properly. Unfortunately, many people – especially those enrolled in Medicare – face challenges in getting the right type and oxygen levels.” 

The SOAR Act, S. 3821/H.R. 7829, was introduced in late February in the Senate and in late March in the House of Representatives. 

The act would: 

  • Remove supplemental oxygen from competitive bidding 

  • Permanently extend Medicare’s blended reimbursement rates 

  • Reimburse for respiratory therapy services 

  • Establish a separate payment system for liquid oxygen   

  • Mandate the use of a template for documentation 

S 3821 currently has three co-sponsors. H.R. 7829 has 12. 

Here is a link to the letter sent to the U.S. Senate and here is a link to the letter send to the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Study: POCs improve survival rates 

GOLETA, Calif. – Portable oxygen concentrators are associated with improved survival rates, according to a new study from Inogen. 

The study also showed that POC use, either alone or in combination with other oxygen modalities, was associated with improved health care resource use, such as hospitalizations and specialist visits, compared to stationary concentrators, compressed tanks and liquid oxygen. 

Additionally, based on the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), POCs were cost-effective compared to stationary concentrators, compressed tanks and liquid oxygen, the study found. 

“The study highlights what we have known anecdotally about portable oxygen therapies, and Inogen devices,” said Kevin Smith, president and CEO, Inogen. “We have long believed that mobile oxygen therapies, primarily portable oxygen concentrators, are associated with improved health outcomes, affordability and patient quality of life. We are proud that this study confirms the value proposition of our devices. Looking forward, we will continue to expand the adoption of our effective and high-quality POCs, enabling even more patients to experience these benefits.” 

The study, which sourced data from the French national health care system database, the Système National des Données de Santé (SNDS), and was published in Pulmonary Therapy, looked at data from more than 244,000 adult long-term oxygen therapy patients from 2013-20. 

As part of the study, two sub-groups were classified based on device autonomy i.e. higher mobility and lower mobility groups. The higher mobility POC sub-group were allocated Inogen devices and had an autonomy greater than five hours, while the lower mobility POC sub-group were allocated non-Inogen devices and had an autonomy less than five hours. Within the POC group, the higher mobility POC sub-group was associated with better survival, lower health care resource use and lower related costs vs. the lower mobility POC sub-group. 

To read the published study, please visit: 

VGM, ACU-Serve ink partnership agreement 

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM & Associates has entered a strategic partnership with ACU-Serve to provide operational services to its HME members, addressing one of the industry’s biggest challenges – staffing. “VGM is committed to supporting our members and the ever-evolving needs they have as the industry progresses,” said Barry Thwaits, senior vice president of business development. “Our new partnership with ACU-Serve allows us to address this need with a respected provider of services that can address multiple operational needs of DME providers.” For ACU-Serve, the partnership marks a long-awaited milestone, says Jim Knight, partner and CEO. “We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with VGM, a leader in post-acute health care,” he said. “Together, we’ll forge strong industry relationships, driving innovation. Since I entered this industry in 1989, VGM has been an organization that has been an inspiration for ACU-Serve. With a wealth of ideas, we’re poised to introduce unprecedented solutions.” The two companies say this partnership is set to create a new benchmark in the HME sector by combining VGM’s extensive network and industry expertise with ACU-Serve’s innovative operational solutions, ultimately benefiting health care providers and patients alike. 

OPGA seeks O&P WOY 

WATERLOO, Iowa – The Orthotic and Prosthetic Group of America (OPGA) has opened the nomination period for the 2024 O&P Woman of the Year Award. Sponsored by Össur and presented by OPGA, this annual award is open to all women who work in the profession. Nominators are encouraged to provide examples of how the nominee has made significant contributions throughout her career to serve her patients, community, business and the O&P profession. “We are thrilled to continue recognizing the outstanding women in the O&P profession with the O&P Woman of the Year Award,” said Adam Miller, president of OPGA, a division of VGM & Associates. “Now in its eighth year, this award not only shines a light on women who contribute significantly to the O&P profession but helps promote the overall importance of the profession and the patients we serve every day.” Nikki Grace-Strader, director of North American Operations with Osseointegration International, Inc., was named 2023 O&P Woman of the Year. Nominations close July 12 and can be made online at The 2024 O&P Woman of the Year Award winner will be selected by a committee of O&P professionals and announced on Sept. 13 during the AOPA National Assembly, which takes place at the Charlotte Convention Center in downtown Charlotte. 

Intermountain Health expands monitoring to include AI with CareCentra 

NEW YORK – Intermountain Health has expanded its partnership with CareCentra to include remote monitoring of patients with COPD and adult asthma to better detect symptom exacerbation and intervene earlier. CareCentra's prevention-as-a-service platform will monitor distal signs of risk using a framework of data points and biometrics from digital devices and patient reported information, in combination with their unique proprietary algorithms. “By leveraging digital health approaches that use behavior science in combination with AI/Machine Learning (ML) models, we not only sense distal risk, but we also help shape patient behaviors to manage that risk at home,” said Vasant Kumar, CEO, CareCentra. "We're creating an early warning system -a sort of 'check engine' light - to keep patients out of the hospital.” CareCentra’s AI will respond to early risk signals by coaching patients on proper inhalation technique for optimal medication delivery, alerting patients to environmental risks and helping to remove barriers for medication adherence, and prompting a range of lifestyle behaviors that can improve outcomes. When the AI senses that risk of exacerbation is too high to be managed through the technology or through behavioral changes, it sends an alert to the Pulmonary Disease Navigator team of registered respiratory therapists for care coordination with the patient's primary care provider and intervention, keeping the care team connected 24/7.  

OMEPA racks up win 

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma Medical Equipment Providers Association (OMEPA) has succeeded in getting H.B.1712, the Patient’s Right of Choice Act, passed, reports VGM & Associates. The act was originally passed In April but was vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. OMEPA’s board and key providers worked tirelessly with champions in the legislature to allow for a “veto override vote” on the last day prior to the end of the legislative session. “OMEPA owes much of their success to the strong relationships built with supportive state legislators over the years,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM. “The OMEPA group reports receiving a standing ovation this year in passing H.B.1712 from Senate legislators while they sat in the gallery right after the bill passed the Senate.” The act allows DMEPOS suppliers to adequately serve patients that have trouble accessing care in rural markets by allowing them to use an out-of-network supplier and still receive in-network benefits. OMEPA worked to pass the act in 2023, but at the end of the session, the act and more than 60 other bills were scrapped. The group worked with lobbyist Julia Jernigan Smith of Creative Capitol Strategies to connect with key players, including the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the policy department and the governor’s office. Other recent legislative wins for OMEPA include H.B.1407 Sales Tax, which exempted durable medical equipment from state sales tax in Oklahoma in 2019 and H.B.2649, Oklahoma Durable Medical Equipment Licensing Act, in 2022. 

NCPA opens conference registration 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has opened registration for its 2024 Annual Convention, set for Oct. 26-29 in Columbus, Ohio. This year’s theme – GPS: Growth, Performance, Success – will help pharmacy teams navigate the obstacles and opportunities in today’s pharmacy landscape, says Lea Wolsoncroft, NCPA president. “From reimbursement rates and the DIR hangover to the regulatory outlook to the anticompetitive practices of PBMs, independent pharmacies have been dealing with many bumps in the road,” says Wolsoncroft, who is also owner of Remedies Pharmacy. “At the same time, there’s an ever-broader range of services owners can put in place to meet patients where they are in their health journeys, yes, and also provide pharmacies with a more reliable path to revenue. NCPA’s convention is where independent pharmacy teams go each year to find inspiration on ways to get ahead, share their own ideas, and build or renew relationships. I’m looking forward to what’s sure to be a great convention and to seeing many of my friends and colleagues in Columbus.”  To learn about and register for NCPA’s 2024 Annual Convention, including additional pre-convention programming, click here. Sign up by July 12 to receive up to $100 off, applicable to all registration types, with NCPA’s early bird rate. 

Product launches: React Health 

React Health has released the IntelliPAP option for the V*Home, V+Pro, V+C and VC+Pro ventilators. IntelliPAP is an optional tool that physicians may use when providing noninvasive ventilation in diseases that are associated with both respiratory insufficiency and obstructive sleep apnea. It enables the automatic adjustment of delivered PEEP levels in response to the detection of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) events. As an added safeguard, clinicians can limit the range of the automatic PEEP adjustment by setting the PEEP min and PEEP Max settings. FMI: ventec-info@reacthe. 


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