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 In brief: VGM searches, sleep study questions, Quipt accelerates

 In brief: VGM searches, sleep study questions, Quipt accelerates

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has begun a nationwide search for a new president to lead its VGM & Associates division. 

Clint Geffert, who joined VGM in 2012, has announced his resignation to pursue a new role with a manufacturer and distributor in the HME industry. Geffert spent his time as president focused on identifying solutions for VGM members, so they could focus on providing high quality care at a better cost. 

“Clint remains a friend to VGM and a valued leader in the HME industry,” said VGM CEO Mike Mallaro. “We’re thankful for his service to VGM, its employee owners and the customers they serve. And we look forward to continuing to work with him in this ever-changing environment.”  

The president of VGM & Associates leads a 70-person team that serves 3,000 members with nearly 7,000 locations, as well as vendor partners. The president is also part of VGM’s 10-person senior leadership team. 

VGM expects its search to be completed by the end of July. 

“VGM will continue to serve its members, vendor partners and its community,” said Mallaro. “They will continue to receive the exceptional service, insight, advocacy and value-added services for which VGM has been known for more than three decades.” 

VGM & Associates is a comprehensive member service organization for post-acute health care, including DME/HME, respiratory, sleep, wound care, complex rehab, women’s health, home modifications, and orthotics and prosthetics providers. 

Sleep study questions adherence requirements 

SAN DIEGO – Sleep apnea sufferers can gain health benefits from PAP treatment in as little as two hours per night, according to a study led by ResMed and presented at the American Thoracic Society’s annual international conference. 

Researchers found: 

  • The minimum PAP usage threshold for benefit was two to three hours per night (up to 50% lower than the four hours required by CMS and many private insurers to prove adherence); 
  • Benefits begin at two hours of nightly PAP use and increase each hour up to seven hours per night, with benefits seen at 90 days, one year and two years into the study; and 
  • Over the two years, each additional hour of nightly PAP use reduced hospitalizations 5% and ER visits 4.4%. 

“This study can positively change how health care professionals prescribe and encourage sleep apnea sufferers to use PAP – and how they’re covered,” said Atul Malhotra, lead author and research chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of California San Diego. 

The retrospective, observational study analyzed the de-identified usage data of 180,000 PAP users in the U.S. to observe their average rates of all-cause hospitalization and emergency room visits based on the number of nightly hours they use PAP, from zero to nine. 

Today, CMS defines PAP therapy adherence as using a PAP device for at least four hours per night for 70% of nights in a consecutive 30-day period in the first 90 days of therapy. Patients who do not achieve adherence may risk losing their machines after 90 days or having to pay for it themselves, depending on their insurance coverage. 

“If just two hours of nightly PAP use can significantly lower a patient’s risk of getting hospitalized, our health systems should encourage and enable people to access and keep using these solutions,” Malhotra said. 

Walmart, American Diabetes Association partner on program for businesses 

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – MeMD, a national telehealth provider that’s part of the Walmart Health family, has launched the Walmart Health Virtual Care Diabetes Program to better provide for patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and assist employers and other institutions supporting the specific health needs of their employees. 

Available as a standalone or as part of a comprehensive medical and behavioral telehealth program, the Walmart Health Virtual Care Diabetes Program was developed for employers and payers to help their employees and members close gaps in diabetes management through early intervention, which can lead to better health outcomes. 

“Walmart Health collaborated with the American Diabetes Association to bring this evidence-based virtual program to fruition,” said Dr. John Wigneswaran, MD, Walmart’s chief medical officer. “Our aim is to empower patients with the most up-to-date diabetes education and clinical care so they can take control of their health. Our program focuses on a patient’s physical and mental health, which also helps employers maintain healthier workforces and drive down overall health care costs.” 

The program merges personalized diabetes education with behavioral health awareness and counseling. Members participate in an initial consultation with a licensed medical provider to discuss patient history, eating habits and more, looking to identify gaps in care, depression risks and schedule a follow-up visit with licensed behavioral health therapists to address each area with a focus on mental health management. 

Additionally, they can receive necessary vaccinations, low-cost insulin and diabetes medications at more than 4,600 Walmart pharmacies nationwide. 

Quipt Home Medical sees ‘accelerating momentum’ 

CINCINNATI – Quipt Home Medical reported revenue of $33.6 million for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, a 38% increase over the same period last year. 

It reported net income of $5 million vs. a net loss of $12.5 million. 

“We are extremely proud of the robust results we experienced in our fiscal second quarter, which showed accelerating momentum across our heavily weighted respiratory product mix as the quarter progressed,” said CEO and Chairman Greg Crawford. “Looking to the beginning of the fiscal third quarter, we are pleased to report we had the highest level of CPAP inventory since the recall began and have seen a positive inventory trend continue in real time.” 

Quipt’s backlog has decreased to about 6,500 patients in the queue waiting to be set up on sleep devices. 

The company says it made four acquisitions during the six months ended March 31, 2022, including At Home Health Equipment, and one acquisition already in the third quarter, Good Night Medical

“Our pipeline remains very strong with many strategic opportunities ranging in size, and we look forward to progressing on attractive targets to leverage the unparalleled scalable platform we have created,” Crawford said. 

Other highlights from Quipt’s financial results: 

  • Respiratory resupply set ups and/or deliveries increased to 50,713 for the three months ended March 31, 2022, compared to 35,702 for the same period last year, an increase of 42%. 
  • Its customer base increased 37% year over year from 56,972 unique patients to 78,273. 
  • It has recently accelerated its hiring of experienced sales personnel to expand its sales reach across the United States.  

CMS proposes amendment to initial coverage for oxygen 

WASHINGTON – CMS is accepting comments on a proposal to amend the period of initial coverage for certain home oxygen patients from 120 days to 90 days to align with the 90-day statutory time period set out in the national coverage determination issued Sept. 27, 2021. 

In a decision memo, CMS stated: “We are proposing that the first paragraph of section D will state: Effective [XX, XXXX], the MAC may determine reasonable and necessary coverage of oxygen therapy and oxygen equipment in the home for patients who are not described in section B or precluded by section C of this NCD. Initial coverage for patients with other conditions may be limited to the shorter of 90 days or the number of days included in the practitioner prescription at MAC discretion. Oxygen coverage may be renewed if deemed medically necessary by the MAC.” 

On Sept. 27, 2021, CMS updated NCD 240.2, Home Use of Oxygen, updating section D of NCD 240.2 to allow MACs to determine reasonable and necessary coverage of oxygen therapy and oxygen equipment in the home for patients who are not described in section B or precluded by section C of that coverage determination. Further, section D specifies that the initial coverage period for patients with these conditions may be limited to the shorter of 120 days or the number of days included in the practitioner prescription at MAC discretion. 

When finalizing the language in NCD 240.2 section D in response to public comments, CMS allowed for an initial coverage period of oxygen therapy and oxygen equipment in the home for up to 120 days for the beneficiaries who are not described in section B or precluded by section C of that coverage determination. However, at that time, the agency inadvertently neglected the 90-day time limit in §1834(a)(5)(E) of the act. 

The other sections of the NCD do not contain language related to the initial coverage period. 

Vertess recaps Q1 activity 

FORTH WORTH, Texas – Vertess closed three transactions in the first quarter of 2022, including the sale of California-based Brannons Medical to AdaptHealth. 

“Brannons was a staple in the San Jose community for 20-plus years,” said Robert Villalobos, managing director and deal lead for Vertess. “With the continued appetite for respiratory providers, it comes as no surprise the family run business was a desirable acquisition.” 

Vertess also represented United Medical Providers, a national urology and catheter provider, in its sale to Home Care Delivered, a national medical supply provider. 

“I am thrilled to see UMP complete this transaction and exit their business,” said Bradley Smith, managing partner, who represented UMP. “We found them the right buyer that will be able to successfully continue the work they were doing.” 

Additionally, Vertess advised PAIS, a West Virginia-based provider of intellectual/developmental disabilities services, in its sale to Pathways Health and Community Support, a national behavioral and mental health services provider. 

Smart insole for diabetics receives honor 

GREENVILLE, S.C. – XtremedX’s temperature and pressure (TAP) sensing insole for diabetics was recently named a Top 20 New Diabetic Device for 2022 by the Diabetes Center Berne (DCB) in Berne, Switzerland. XtremedX’s TAP sensing insole was one of only two products selected from the U.S. chosen by a panel of judges who are leading experts in diabetes care. "We're honored that we've been selected by the Diabetes Center Berne for this innovation challenge among all of the other incredible ideas and inventions to improve diabetes care," said Carl Marshbanks, CEO of XtremedX. "It's been an exciting time for our team, as we also recently were recognized as a first-place winner of the WeaRAcon 2022 international wearable robotics association conference this year. We've set out to create a product that will truly impact the management of diabetes and we're glad to see that leaders in our industry believe in our mission as well." The insole’s sensor detects differences over time between both feet, sending accumulated data to the patient, caregiver and/or physician via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cellular technology for monitoring. It provides an alert at the first sign that an ulcer could develop – often four to six weeks before the onset of symptoms. Each of the 20 winners participated in a pitch round in May where they presented their devices to a panel of judges. These judges will select the top three finalists to participate in a bootcamp June 20-24 in Switzerland to develop their ideas with the help of experts at DCB. After the bootcamp, a winner will be chosen on Nov. 30 to receive $100,000 to fund further development of their innovation.   

People news: Inogen, Drive DeVilbiss 

Agnes Lee has been named senior vice president of investor relations and strategic planning for Inogen. “I am excited to welcome Agnes to the Inogen team as we continue to strengthen our strategic planning capabilities, further execute against our growth initiatives and communicate our strategy internally and externally, all with the overarching goal of transforming Inogen and driving shareholder value,” said Nabil Shabshab, president and CEO. “Agnes brings extensive medical technology and life sciences experience and has an excellent track record in effective engagement with shareholders and analysts.” Lee joins Inogen from Butterfly Network, where she served as vice president of investor relations. While at Butterfly Network, she created an investor relations program to promote the company to analysts and investors, and collaboratively led investor marketing to reflect an evolution of the company’s vision and strategy. Prior to Butterfly, she led investor relations programs at Fluidigm and ResMed…Jennifer Nicholson, senior vice president of product and marketing strategy for Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, has joined the board of directors of the Drama Club, a nonprofit that provides a theater curriculum and positive mentorship to incarcerated and court-involved youth. Nicholson will bring her expertise as a global marketing and operations leader to support and strengthen the organization’s future. 

RESNA, NMEDA make it official 

ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA has announced that the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is now a Platinum Premier Corporate Partner. The partnership expands an existing working relationship that the two organizations have had for many years. “We couldn’t be happier to sign an official partnership with RESNA,” said NMEDA CEO Danny Langfield. “The goals of our organizations align themselves extremely well and we are excited to take our work with RESNA to the next level and help them continue to accomplish their mission of promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.” NMEDA will continue to engage with RESNA members as a valued and trusted assistive technology and rehabilitation partner through year-round educational, social and awareness activities.   

MUSC taps Palmetto Infusion for home services 

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Medical University of South Carolina has included Palmetto Infusion in its preferred provider network to increase access to quality care for home infusion patients and their families across the state. MUSC will use Palmetto Infusion’s services for patients in need of home and/or ambulatory infusion therapies to give people living with acute and chronic illnesses a convenient, more affordable way to receive treatment. “We are delighted to work more closely with Palmetto Infusion, which is an organization dedicated to delivering the highest quality standards, as well as phenomenal service to patients and families,” said Patrick Cawley, M.D., CEO of MUSC Health and vice president, health affairs, for the university. “This affiliation will ensure our patients have the tight continuity that is needed as part of their care.” Palmetto Infusion’s team of nurses, clinical nurse liaisons, case managers, intake coordinators, pharmacists and delivery drivers provide comprehensive service and care for thousands of patients throughout the Southeast. 

Jury convicts three in $6.4M scheme 

DALLAS – A federal jury here has convicted the owners and operators of four orthic brace suppliers in Texas and Arkansas for a $6.5 million illegal kickback scheme, including violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute. Bruce Stroud, 40, and Bobbi Stroud, 39, husband and wife and residents of Prosper, Texas, and Kenric Griffin, 52, of Frisco, Texas, jointly owned and operated New Horizons Durable Medical Equipment, Striffin Medical Supply, 4B Ortho Supply and Grace Professional DME, according to court documents and evidence presented at trial. The evidence showed that between January 2017 and April 2019, the Strouds and Griffin, through their companies, caused approximately $12.5 million to be billed in claims to Medicare for unnecessary braces based on brace orders received in exchange for illegal kickbacks. Medicare paid the defendants approximately $6.5 million for those claims. The defendants concealed the scheme by entering into numerous sham agreements with purported marketing companies that characterized the illegal payments for doctor orders as “marketing” expenses. The Strouds and Griffin were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and to offer and pay illegal health care kickbacks, and seven violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute. The defendants are all scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 7, with each defendant facing a total of up to 55 years in prison. 

NY Medicaid unbundles CPAP benefit 

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State Medicaid will unbundle all CPAP and BiPAP supplies from new setups effective June 1, AAHomecare reports. The program has also unbundled heated humidifiers and cool humidifiers, according to a 202-page DME Manual Update. Additionally, the program has made it an option to purchase PAP devices or rent them as a 10-month capped rental. NEMEP’s Payer Relations Committee, chaired by David Chandler of AAHomecare, and NEMEP President John Quinlan worked with Medicaid officials to institute the changes. NEMEP is now prioritizing improving high frequency chest wall oscillation device payment policy, improving backup wheelchair and repair policy and addressing other items with low fee-for-service reimbursement compared to surrounding states, AAHomecare reports. 

Permobil collabs with Swedish designer 

STOCKHOLM – Permobil has launched a collaboration with the fashion brand Lou Dehrot and Swedish designer Louise Linderoth to challenge attitudes and inspire others to see possibilities in every individual. The collaboration’s first project is a T-shirt that delivers the message, “My capability is not based on your assumption.” “We need more people like Louise, who want to inspire people to think differently and challenge the way we look at things,” said Martinus Rönnerman, vice president of group communications at Permobil. “As a company, we want to create value for people and society at large, as it is through diversity that we can influence attitudes and create change. Through the initiative, we can empower Louise in her work as a fashion designer. Together, we want to drive change and create greater diversity and inclusion.” The T-shirt has been launched with a campaign headlined by six people using wheelchairs, all role models from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands who are share their unique stories. A limited number of T-shirts are available to order from Permobil.   

United Spinal sets stage for Roll on Capitol Hill 

KEW GARDENS, N.Y. – The United Spinal Association has announced that this year’s Roll on Capitol Hill, and all future events, will include in-person and virtual participation. This year's event takes place June 12-15. “This is due to the rapid acceptance of accommodations that our community has long asked for, such as telework, telehealth and the use of virtual platforms for meetings,” the association stated. United Spinal is reincorporating in-person visits for the first time since 2019. The association estimates that nearly 100 advocates will attend the event in-person, in addition to the advocates participating virtually from across the country. “Disability is part of every community, and all elected officials must hear from their constituents with disabilities to understand the problems that we face and find solutions,” the association stated. “We believe that by broadening participation in Roll on Capitol Hill in this way, we will reach as many policymakers as we can and build deeper understanding with a larger coalition of potential allies.” 

Vizient expands into DME 

IRVING, Texas – Vizient has expanded its Novaplus Enhanced Supply to include three new medical/surgical categories, including durable medical equipment, sterile inhalation water and non-invasive ventilation. Through Novaplus Enhanced Supply, Vizient provides supply assurance for participating members through increased inventory commitment from suppliers. “We are continually communicating with our members and contracted suppliers to prepare for and mitigate against potential supply disruptions,” said Margaret Steele, senior vice president of med/surg for Vizient. “It’s part of a strategy Vizient began before the pandemic that we have since accelerated to ensure hospitals have the supplies and medications they need to continue delivering patient care.” With the new additions, Vizient now covers 10 med/surg categories. The company says it serves more than 50% of the nation’s acute care providers, including 97% of the country’s academic medical centers and more than 20% of ambulatory care providers. Its contract portfolio represents more than $130 billion in annual purchasing volume. 

Soleo Health wins multiple Stevies 

FRISCO, Texas – Soleo Health was named the winner of four Gold Stevie Awards and one Silver Award in the 20th Annual American Business Awards. The company earned Gold for Frontline Medical Hero of the Year and Support Staffer of the Year, with two of its nurses recognized for their efforts surrounding patient care. The company earned Gold for Company of the Year – Health Products & Services – Large Companies, and the top award in Achievement in Management – Large Companies. It also earned a Silver Award for Most Valuable Service within the COVID-19 categories for its national program surrounding monoclonal antibody treatment for patients. “We are honored to be recognized by the American Business Awards and bestowed five Stevie Awards,” said Drew Walk, CEO. “We have extraordinary clinicians on staff, a few of whom were lauded in this competition for their incredible and unrelenting dedication to caring for our patients. We thank them, as well as our entire team, as every one of our colleagues contributed to the awards we received this year. It takes a cohesive team effort to ensure the consistent delivery of high-quality patient care and an even greater one to do so during COVID-19. We thank the ABA and judges for their recognition of Soleo Health.” More than 3,700 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories. More than 230 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year’s Stevie Award winners. Awards will be presented to winners at a gala ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York on June 13.  

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