In brief: AAH submits comments on bidding, Bowen to lead NEMEP
WASHINGTON – AAHomecare reiterated it concerns about the structure of the competitive bidding process, including CMS’s use of median bid prices instead of market clearing prices, in recent comments submitted to the agency.
CMS was mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act to take into account stakeholder input on future pricing in non-bid areas, which got their first taste of the program in 2016.
In its comments, AAHomecare also asked for more comprehensive evaluation of the bidding program’s effects on beneficiary access and the quality of equipment furnished.
The comments also noted significant reductions in the number of HME suppliers in recent years and echoed the feedback shared by many suppliers on a March 23 call with providers.
“The stories told by suppliers and referral sources all had the same theme: the cuts are too severe, suppliers cannot exist on the current regional SPAs, Medicare beneficiaries are not being serviced at the level they need,” AAHomecare stated. “There was a sense of urging CMS to reconsider what has been done as part of the requirement in the Cures Act.”
AAHomecare closed its comments by asking what process CMS will follow to respond to industry feedback from the call and the written comments provided by stakeholders, and reiterated the association’s commitment to working with the agency to arrive at a workable payment solution.
AAH makes recommendations on SMRC contract
CMS requested that AAHomecare’s Regulatory Council provide suggestions on what should be included in the next statement of work for the SMRC contractor. Strategic Health Solutions’contract is set to expire this year. Some of AAHomecare’s suggestions are:
• Change the time frame for response by a supplier from 30 days to 45 business days.
• Limit the number of claims per letter to 20.
• Require the SMRC contractor to publicly publish error rates and overturn rates through all levels of appeal.
• Require the SMRC contractor to only look at new setups and not the random dates of service as they do now.
AAHomecare says it has previously worked with CMS on SMRC audit issues and appreciates the opportunity to continue to be involved in the process.
Association forms Retail Work Group for complex rehab
WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has formed a new Retail Work Group within the Complex Rehab & Mobility Council. The work group will hold monthly phone calls for suppliers and manufacturers to discuss retail layouts, operational strategies, legal aspects of marketing and promotions and more. “This Work Group is a collaboration of CRMC members who are trying to supplement their cuts in reimbursement with retail cash sales,” says Work Group Chairwoman Nancy Froslie of Sanford HealthCare Accessories. “Tapping in on a solid retail sales revenue is a great way for providers to increase sales and improve their cash flow.”
Georgia passes licensure requirement
ATLANTA – Georgia’s House of Representatives and Senate have passed a bill that establishes a licensure requirement for DME suppliers. Under the requirement, a supplier must submit the appropriate forms as prescribed by the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy, submit the requisite license fee, and maintain an office or place of business within Georgia. The supplier must also meet safety standards, including ensuring all personnel engaged in delivery, maintenance and repair of DME receive annual continuing education; provide instruction to the patient or patient’s caregiver on how to use DME; receive and respond to complaints from patients; maintain patient records for all patients receiving DME; and properly manage, maintain and service DME. The bill also establishes a definition for DME that specifies it is equipment requiring a prescription, including repair and replacement parts. To be considered DME, equipment must be able to withstand repeated use; have an expected life of at least three years; be primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose; be generally not useful in the absence of illness or injury; and should be appropriate for use in the home. The bill now sits before Gov. Nathan Deal, who has 30 days to sign or veto it.
Rowheels names new CEO
FITCHBURG, Wis. – Rowheels, the makers of pull-based geared wheels for manual wheelchairs, has named a new CEO: Fred Mindermann. Previously, Mindermann has held executive positions at Siemens Medical and AGA Linde HealthCare, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. He replaces Rimas Buinevicius, who co-founded the company in 2011. Last year, Rowheels used $1.5 million in funding to launch a more general-purpose wheel.
Board taps Bowen to lead NEMEP
ALBANY, New York – Just months after New York and New Jersey decided to combine their state HME associations, they have announced new leadership.
The board of directors of the Northeast Medical Equipment Providers association (NEMEP) has chosen Beth Bowen, who already leads state HME associations in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, as their new executive director.
“NEMEP is very lucky to have such a distinguished and energetic professional at its helm,” Kim Voelker, the former executive director of NEMEP, wrote in a letter to members on April 11.
Earlier this year, Voelker led efforts to combine the New York and New Jersey state HME associations.
Most recently, Bowen led efforts to combine the North Carolina and Virginia state HME associations.
“I look forward to serving with the board and the members of NEMEP beginning next week,” she wrote in an email on April 11.
ARJ moves headquarters
LENEXA, Kan. – ARJ Infusion Services held an open house at its new headquarters here April 13. The new location features a state-of-the-art pharmacy with compounding area; a modern infusion suite with a relaxed environment for patients and continuing education programs for clinicians. “ARJ has a lot to celebrate—a new headquarters, ranking nationally in the top 10% in home health patient satisfaction, and continued revenue growth year after year," said Lisa Sackuvich, president and owner, in a press release.
Philips launches travel CPAP device
AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – Philips has released a compact, travel-ready CPAP device called the DreamStation Go. The device weighs just 1.86 pounds and comes in two models: a fixed-pressure unit called the Pro; and an Auto CPAP that is auto-titrating. “The new DreamStation Go is perfectly suited for every-day therapy, as well as for active, traveling lifestyles,” said Chris Vasta, president of The CPAP Shop, which began selling the device on April 10. DreamStation Go, which retails for $849, features a Federal Aviation Administration-approved automatic battery backup, a color swipe screen, and an integrated USB port, among others. It also connects to the DreamMapper sleep monitor app. ResMed, a competitor of Philips, received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its AirMini travel CPAP device in January. During a conference call that month to discuss its latest financial results, the company said it plans to launch the device some time before June 30. Human Design Capital, which is owned by private investment firm PBM Capital, launched a portable CPAP device called the Z1 in 2013.
VOCSN: ‘Not just another ventilator’
BOTHELL, Wash. – Ventec Life Systems has received FDA 510(k) clearance of its VOCSN, a unified respiratory systems for ventilator patients. VOCSN combines five respiratory therapies—ventilation, oxygen, cough, suction and nebulization—and is designed to improve care for patients with neuromuscular disease, impaired lung function, spinal cord injury and pediatric development complications. The system is designed for use in hospital institutional, transport and home settings, and enables caregivers to spend less time managing machines and more time caring for patients. “I’ve seen firsthand how improved ventilator technology can enhance the quality of life for patients and caregivers,” said Doug DeVries, founder and CEO of Ventec, in a press release. “Our team didn’t want to create just another ventilator, we spent the past five years focused on building a truly integrated solution.”
Smith & Nephew begins distributing patient monitoring system
LONDON – Smith & Nephew has signed a distribution agreement with Leaf Healthcare, a developer of a wireless patient monitoring system for pressure ulcer/injury prevention. “Smith & Nephew is focused on providing not just products to treat conditions, but also supporting customers through technologies designed to support prevention, as well as treatment,” said Glenn Warner, president U.S., Smith & Nephew. “The Leaf Patient Monitoring System is complementary to Smith & Nephew’s existing portfolio in this area, such as ALLEVYN Life prophylactic dressings and SECURA skin care products.” The monitoring system is comprised of a small, lightweight, wearable sensor that wirelessly monitors a patient’s position and movement, and uses that data to automate and document the management of prescribed turn protocols for patients at risk for ulcers/injuries. As a result of the agreement with Smith & Nephew, the system, which is currently in use in a limited number of hospitals, now has the opportunity to reach a nationwide customer base.
Oklahoma considers steep cuts for Medicaid
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has had to map out budget scenarios for the upcoming fiscal year based on a 5% to 15% reduction in state appropriations, according to Tulsa World. A cut of 15% would mean eliminating some optional benefits and reducing provider rates by up to 25%. Benefits being evaluated for elimination include pharmacy, behavioral health and DME, according to the newspaper. Past budget shortfalls have resulted in eliminating or reducing sleep studies, perinatal and dental care, and DME purchases, the newspaper reports. The authority is in charge of the state’s Medicaid program, called SoonerCare.
Action DME goes with CareTend
LENEXA, Kan. – Action DME has purchased Mediware’s CareTend Software for its durable medical equipment business. Owner Hunter Cook likes the software’s all-in-one solution. “I really look forward to using the workflow management tools in CareTend that are very intuitive to how my business operates each day-with the bonus of tracking output in real-time in a single dashboard,” he said in a press release.