In brief: AAH, ATS make their case, Hollister Inc. shifts away from wound care

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Friday, February 9, 2018

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare and the American Thoracic Society will share the impacts of Medicare’s competitive bidding program on oxygen patients at a Feb. 14 congressional staff briefing.
Both organizations have conducted studies on the program and AAHomecare has used the results of those studies to bolster its arguments with lawmakers, as well as with CMS, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget.
But next week’s briefing, organized by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., offers the organizations the opportunity to present findings to a broader segment of Hill staffers to build support for H.R. 4229.
The bill, which has 118 co-sponsors, would delay a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2018. Stakeholders believe if they can reach 150 co-sponsors, they’ll have a powerful case for leadership to move the bill.
Participants in the briefing will include Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, and Mike Calcaterra, Northern zone vice president for Norco in Spokane, Wash.
Stakeholders are asking providers to ask their contacts in the House and Senate to attend the briefing.
Spending bill includes DME-related provisions
WASHINGTON – Lawmakers passed a government spending bill early on Feb. 9 that contained several DME-related provisions.
The bill, which passed the House 240 to 186 and the Senate 71 to 28, contained a provision that would create a temporary transition payment for home infusion to address a payment gap created by a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act (see story). It also contained a provision that recognizes the clinical notes of orthotists and prosthetists as part of a patient’s official medical record to determine medical necessity; and a provision to remove the rental cap for speech-generating devices.
Hollister Inc. shifts away from wound care
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. – Hollister Inc. on Feb. 2 announced its decision to divest portions of its wound care business.
Hollister, which manufactures products for not only the wound care market, but also the ostomy, continence and critical care markets, is in the process of transitioning its Hydrofera Blue and Endoform businesses to new owners, according to a press release.
The new owners, who plan to continue manufacturing and delivering the products, will be named in a “forthcoming” communication, the release says.
“For more than 95 years, our company’s mission has been ‘to make life more rewarding and dignified for people who use our products and services,’” said V. George Maliekel, president and CEO of Hollister. “We remain dedicated to our mission, and to serving our customers, the patients who rely on our products, and our employees around the world.”
The Hollister wound care product portfolio includes, among others, the brands Hydrofera Blue, Endoform, TRIACT and FastCast.
Hollister will continue to sell and distribute the other wound care products in its portfolio, according to the release.
A letter to customers, also dated Feb. 2, echoed much of the release, but added some color, including: “After extensive analysis and discussions, we have concluded that we will no longer pursue a path forward to build the wound care business.”
Hollister tells customers to continue ordering Hollister wound care products as they do today “until further notice.”
Advanced Home Care, Home I.V. merge
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Advanced Home Care now serves home infusion and enteral patients throughout Virginia, thanks to a merger with Home I.V. Care and Nutritional Services.
Advanced Home Care adds a branch in Waynesboro, Va., its eighth in the state, as a result of the merger with Home I.V. Care.
“Advanced Home Care will work closely with all patients, partners and employees to make the integration process as smooth as possible,” the company said in an announcement on its website. “The integration of both companies has already begun and will continue over the next few weeks. All patients will continue to receive the same high-quality care and service that they have come to expect.”
Advanced Home Care, a not-for-profit, hospital-affiliated company, operates 30 branches in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. It services more than 30,000 patients each day, making it one of the largest Medicare/Medicaid providers in the Southeast, according to its website.
The Braff Group, which originated the transaction and served as the exclusive M&A adviser to Home I.V. Care and Nutritional Services, says the deal is evidence of the continued consolidation of the home infusion market.
NTSB blames undiagnosed OSA for two accidents
WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board this week determined that two commuter railroad terminal accidents in the New York area were caused by engineer fatigue resulting from undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea. The NTSB found the two accidents had “almost identical” probable causes and safety issues. The board also determined that these safety issues were not unique to these two properties, but exist throughout the country at many intercity passenger and commuter passenger train terminals. In August 2017 the NTSB expressed its “disappointment” with the withdrawal of a notice of proposed rulemaking by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that sought to require testing for certain commercial drivers and rail workers, stating “Obstructive sleep apnea has been the probable cause of 10 highway and rail accidents investigated by the NTSB in the past 17 years. Medical fitness and fatigue, two of the NTSB’s 10 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2017–2018, are tied to obstructive sleep apnea.” “The traveling public deserves alert operators,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt this week. “That is not too much to ask.” The Sept. 29, 2016, accident on the New Jersey Transit railroad at Hoboken, N.J., killed one person, injured 110, and resulted in major damage to the station. The Jan. 4, 2017, accident on the Long Island Rail Road at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, N.Y., injured 108 people. Both accidents involved trains that struck end-of-track bumping posts and crashed into stations.
CMS plans to extend PMD demo
WASHINGTON – It looks like CMS plans to extend a demonstration project requiring prior authorizations for power mobility devices, according to a notice posted in the Federal Register on Feb. 7. The demo, in place in 19 states, is set to expire at the end of August. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 requires federal agencies to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, and to allow a second opportunity for public comment. CMS has directed comments to be sent to the Office of Management and Budget by March 9. The demo kicked off in seven states in September 2012 and was expanded to 12 states in 2014, bringing the total to 19. In July 2015, CMS extended the demo through August 2018.
Stakeholders have told CMS they’d like to see the agency expand prior authorizations to the remaining states and also require them for complex rehab wheelchairs. CMS also started requiring prior authorizations for two complex rehab codes, K0856 and K0861, in 2017.
Texas lawmakers eye Superior HealthPlan contract
AUSTIN, Texas – Superior HealthPlan’s contract with the state of Texas could face scrutiny by a state ethics committee, according to local news reports.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has asked House members to investigate the Texas Health and Human Services Commission after an audit revealed it had mishandled its contract with the managed care plan.
Specifically, it found the state allowed Superior to report $29.6 million in bonus and incentive payments paid to medical providers' employees, even though such payments were not allowed under its contract with the state.
Superior Health Plan, part of Centene Corp., has contracted with Medline to serve as the “preferred provider” of DME and supplies to Medicaid recipients. The contract start date was delayed from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1, 2017, after a hearing in August in which lawmakers suggested that Superior HealthPlan amend its notice to patients to say they can “opt out” of using Medline.
SoClean adds new office
OXFORD, Mass. – SoClean, based here, is adding a new corporate office in Peterborough, N.H. The new office will serve as a call center and home base for top marketing and sales executives, while renovations take place to add other business functions. News of the new office comes as SoClean continues to expand with help from a recent investment from DW Healthcare Partners. “We chose Peterborough because of its experienced labor force, available commercial space, warehousing opportunities and business-oriented local community,” said Robert Wilkins, CEO. “The area has a talented employment pool and is a great place to conduct business. We are thrilled to be renovating a commercial space on Vose Farm Road, which will allow our brand to expand and scale globally.”
Invacare stages Medtrade Spring comeback
LAS VEGAS – Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare has signed a contract to exhibit at Medtrade Spring, March 27-29 in Las Vegas. “Invacare is a long-time exhibitor at Medtrade Spring and Medtrade, and we are pleased to have them back,” said Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade. Invacare says it wants providers to know that the company understands the challenges in the HME industry and that it’s committed to providing cost-effective products that help providers do business. “The market may be difficult, but efficient ways to run an HME business still exist, such as leveraging quality products like the Invacare Platinum Mobile Oxygen Concentrator with Connectivity that help satisfy clinical and patient needs with advancements such as integrated informatics or connectivity,” said Robert Hanley, manager, Corporate Account-HME, for Invacare. Register for Medtrade Spring here.
Retail workshops to provide ‘blueprint’
WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Retail Services will hold 10 retail training workshops this year. The “Brick by Brick: Retail Learning Workshop” is designed to help providers manage and grow their retail operations. “We’re excited to take our retail team on the road to help providers strengthen their retail programs,” said Rob Baumhover, director of VGM Retail Services, a division of VGM Group, Inc. “Our workshops provide guidance and resources to help attendees strategize and create a customized blueprint for retail success.” Registration is open to all providers and includes a workbook, action items and lunch. For more information about the workshop or to register, visit www.brickbybrickretaillearningworkshop.eventbrite.com.
GEMCO, Brightree integrate
HUDSON, Ohio – GEMCO Medical has partnered with Brightree as an integrated electronic purchasing partner. GEMCO Medical customers will now be able to receive their products with the seamless electronic ordering power of the Brightree Integrated ePurchasing system. "Our focus has always been helping providers help their customers and this partnership provides a more efficient ordering system to do just that," says Richard Keirn, vice president of GEMCO Medical. "By removing extra steps in the current order process, we can save providers time and money so they can shift their focus."
Coloplast makes another buy
MINNEAPOLIS – Coloplast has acquired IncoCare Gunhild Vieler GmbH, a direct-to-consumer provider of continence supplies, it announced today. The German company will strengthen Coloplast’s presence in southeast Germany, according to a press release. “The acquisition of IncoCare is part of our strategy of pursuing inorganic opportunities to accelerate growth and to strengthen our service offering,” said Lars Rasmussen, Coloplast CEO. In December, Coloplast acquired SAS Lilial, a French company.
NHIA moves forward with data initiative
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Home Infusion Association and Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP), a healthcare data and technology services company, will collaborate on the collection of clinical and business performance data as part of an ongoing effort to develop national standards for home and specialty infusion therapy. SHP will work with NHIA to collect, aggregate, and report data using its web-based real time solution, according to a press release. NHIA in 2010 launched a multi-phase Industry Wide Data Initiative. “We are pleased to work with SHP to facilitate the creation of national quality standards while maintaining NHIA’s neutrality and ensuring the security and privacy for members who participate in our data activities,” said Connie Sullivan, NHIA vice president of research and innovation.
3B Medical debuts CPAP cleaner
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – 3B Medical has launched 3B Lumin, a cleaner for CPAP masks and supplies, it announced today. Lumin has a disinfection cycle time of five minutes, releases no ozone, and is effective against bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus, according to a press release. "We wanted to develop a product that would not damage the CPAP machine itself, and had zero risk of exposing a respiratory patient to a lung irritant," said Dr. Jose Llana, national director of sales. Lumin will be available March 1.
States ramp up message: Florida, Maine
The Florida Alliance of Home Care Services recently joined forces with AAHomecare to discuss patient access issues and managed care concerns with state officials in Tallahassee. Stakeholders met with representatives from the governor’s office and the Agency for Health Care Administration. They also met with lawmakers, including Reps. Jose Oliva and Frank White. In a press release, FAHCS called the meetings “encouraging”…HOMES President and CEO Karyn Estrella and association members testified at a MaineCare public hearing on Jan. 29 regarding proposed changes to Medicaid regulations, including payment methodology. “We are concerned about the proposed implementation of the current Medicare fee schedule, since according to a recent study, these rates only cover approximately 88% of the provider’s cost,” Estrella said. “When MaineCare implemented these rates in July 2016, it led to an access problems and (the state) ultimately rescinded the rates. We have every reason to believe this will happen again.”