In brief: CVS doubles down on HealthHUBs, CMS seeks input on paperwork burden

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Friday, June 7, 2019

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Health will open additional HealthHUBs in Houston this year, as well as in Atlanta, Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey and Tampa, the company announced as part of its 2019 Investor Day on June 4.

CVS Health plans to have a total of 1,500 HealthHUBs operating by the end of 2021.

“HealthHUBs are a powerful example of how CVS Health can provide consumers with convenient, personalized and integrated access to local health care,” the company stated.

CVS began piloting HealthHUBs in Houston earlier this year.

Locations with HealthHUBs devote more space to healthcare services, including screening for diabetes and sleep apnea, and expand its DME offerings to include CPAP masks and accessories.

CMS seeks input on paperwork burden, including documentation requirements for payment

WASHINGTON ­– CMS on June 6 issued a Request For Information on how to streamline regulations and cut the “red tape” that weighs down the healthcare system.

The agency says it wants to continue the progress of Patients over Paperwork, an initiative that it launched in 2017 and that it says is helping to save an estimated 40 million hours and $5.7 billion through 2021.

“Patients over Paperwork remains a top priority and a driving force in lowering healthcare costs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We are doubling down on efforts to decrease healthcare costs by reducing administrative burden. In removing what doesn’t add value, we’re making room for what does.”

The RFI on Reducing Administrative Burden to Put Patients over Paperwork invites patients and their families, the medical community and other healthcare stakeholders to recommend further changes to rules, policies and procedures that would shift clinician and healthcare system resources from paperwork to high quality care that improves patient health.

Specifically, CMS seeks ways to improve: reporting and documentation requirements, coding and documentation requirements for Medicare or Medicaid payment, prior authorization procedures, policies and requirements for rural providers, policies and requirements for dually enrolled beneficiaries, beneficiary enrollment and eligibility determination, and processes for issuing regulations and policies.

Comments must be submitted by Aug. 12.

Survey: Access issues aren’t limited to Medicare

WATERLOO, Iowa – The inability to get HME and supplies in a timely manner is a widespread concern for patients and caregivers, according to an informal survey conducted by People for Quality Care.

Respondents to the survey, which was conducted via social media, say they have to wait upward of weeks for HME and supplies, regardless of their insurance. One in four respondents who do not have Medicare report still having difficulty getting equipment.

“The impact of Medicare is far-reaching as it is often the benchmark for other payers, such as children and adults with Medicaid, active military families with TRICARE, and many more,” said Ashley Plauché, the legislative partner for People for Quality Care, a division of VGM Group, and manager of member and public relations for AAHomecare. “The survey results indicate an alarming trend of reduced access across the board—something that must be dealt with at the source to ensure that all people have access to equipment, services, and support they require.”

Another finding from the survey: more than half of respondents saw increases in out-of-pocket expenses.

The survey’s findings support industry efforts to pass the Protecting Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment (HOME) Access Act of 2019, introduced in May by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R. Wash., and Dave Loebsack, D. Iowa. The bill seeks to ease access issues by making the 50/50 blended reimbursement rates in rural areas permanent after 2020; implementing 75/25 blended rates in non-rural, non-bid areas; and eliminating the oxygen budget neutrality requirement.

‘Significant’ rate cuts force Miller’s to drop certain DME

AKRON, Ohio – Miller’s will no longer provide some basic DME, including walkers, crutches, canes, hospital beds, commodes and bath benches, effective July 1, it has notified customers. The provider attributed the change to “significant” reimbursement cuts over the last several years—in some cases more than 50%. “While this decision was not an easy one, we firmly believe it is the right decision—both for Miller’s and for the referrals/clients that we serve,” said the notice. Miller’s will continue to specialize in complex rehab technology and other mobility products, as well as home respiratory services, home accessibility solutions, lift chairs and incontinence supplies.

Reverse calculators added to industry’s bid website

WASHINGTON – The industry stakeholders behind www.dmecbpeducation.com have added three reverse calculators to the website to help HME providers formulate their bids for Round 2021. They’ve added “non-lead item calculators” for CPAP and RAD, enteral nutrition and standard power mobility devices to allow providers to enter their bid rates for non-lead items to get bid rates for lead items. “If your rate for the non-lead item results in a bid rate that is above the bid ceiling, you will be alerted that your rate is too high and that you will need to re-enter a lower rate for your non-lead item,” the instructions read. “If your non-lead item bid rate is at or below the bid ceiling, you will not be alerted of any issues.” Stakeholders urge providers to use these industry developed calculators because they include information on bid ceilings, and the percentage and dollar changes from the submitted bids to the average 2019 fee schedule amounts. CMS plans to open the bid window on July 16.

VGM enhances bid calculators

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has released enhanced competitive bidding calculators that allow providers to input their own books of business and desired bid prices to reflect changes in revenues. There is an individual calculator for each of the 16 product categories that CMS plans to include in Round 2021. The calculators build on existing calculators available at www.dmecbpeducation.com. Stakeholders urge providers to use these industry developed calculators because they include information on bid ceilings, and the percentage and dollar changes from the submitted bids to the average 2019 fee schedule amounts. CMS plans to open the bid window on July 16.

Woodbury Health Products rebrands

YARMOUTH, Maine – Woodbury Health Products has re-launched its direct-to-consumer business as Personally Delivered. Personally Delivered offers disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, wound and skin care products, ostomy supplies, and nutritional and compression products. In 2017, Convatec acquired Woodbury Holdings for $121 million.

VMI offers roadside assistance program

PHOENIX – Vantage Mobility International has partnered with Mobility Roadside Assistance and Wrench Inc. to offer a roadside assistance program for wheelchair users. VMI will provide one year of complimentary roadside assistance for customers who purchase a vehicle with a new conversion from VMI, AMS Vans or Revability. In addition to taking care of the vehicle, MRA will assist the driver and passengers with paratransit service and Wrench mobile mechanics will be dispatched to the customer’s home, office or other location to complete repairs. “This partnership furthers VMI’s commitment to empower people with disabilities by giving them more options and greater confidence to live an independent lifestyle,” said Mark Shaughnessy, CEO of VMI. “When our customers purchase an accessible vehicle from VMI, AMS Vans or Revability, we want our customers to feel assured that we will do everything possible to provide the best ownership experience for many years to come.” 

Healogics launches wound care awareness campaign

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Healogics, a provider of advanced wound care services, is a sponsor of Wound Care Awareness Week. The sixth annual event, taking place this week, brings Healogics team members from around the country together to raise awareness of the chronic wound epidemic and the available treatment options. The incidence of chronic wounds, which affect approximately 6.7 million people in the U.S., and costs more than $50 billion annually to treat, is expected to rise over the next decade, driven in part by an aging population and increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and peripheral artery diseases, among other factors. “Wound Care Awareness is our opportunity to share, nationally, why wound care matters, and what can be done to help people with non-healing wounds,” said Allan Woodward, president. “It is a chance for us to educate patients, caregivers and physicians about chronic wounds and advanced treatment options. By raising awareness of the impact of chronic wounds, we can help change lives.”

Glooko partners with T1D Exchange

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., and BOSTON – Glooko’s diabetes management platform will be used to incorporate data from devices like insulin pumps, CGMs and glucometers into the T1D Exchange Quality Improvement Collaborative as part of a new partnership. The QIC researches how more than 30,000 individuals and their healthcare providers treat, measure and manage their diabetes, and identifies which practices make a difference in improving healthcare outcomes and change the course of treatment and management for Type 1 diabetes. “T1D Exchange offers one of the best resources available today to diabetes researchers working to make a real difference in the life of people with Type 1D,” said Russ Johannesson, CEO of Glooko. “The team at Glooko is excited to have the privilege of enhancing the value of that resource by making it possible to securely integrate peoples’ anonymized diabetes device data into the T1D Exchange data platform.”

NSM buys NJ provider

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has acquired CMC Adaptive Seating and Homecare in Whippany, N.J., growing its footprint in the Northeast. The deal allows NSM to expand services to customers throughout New Jersey and New York. “With this expansion, we’re proud to be the leading provider of CRT in New Jersey and New York,” said Bill Mixon, NSM CEO. “We’re eager to work alongside healthcare professionals in the area to offer unique mobility solutions for their clients in need.” CMC’s owners, Carlos and Patricia Collazo, who opened the complex rehab business in 2002, will transition to leadership positions at the Whippany branch. ATPs Ian Holloway and Chris Horshal will also join the NSM team.

Invacare sponsors senior competition

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has announced it will be a sponsor for the 2019 National Veterans Golden Age Games (NVGAG), June 5-10 in Anchorage, Alaska. More than 700 veterans ages 55 or older will travel to the NVGAG to compete in 14 events, including swimming, cycling, golf, track and field, bowling and table tennis. Team Invacare will be on hand throughout the event to help ensure that the equipment of veterans is ready for competition. The NVGAG is the only national senior multi-event sports and recreational competition designed to improve the quality of life for all older veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.

United Spinal, Permobil Foundation increase access to seat elevation

NEW YORK – Members of the United Spinal Association now have the opportunity to apply for a Roll Forward Grant for a SmartDrive or active-height seat elevator on a new Permobil wheelchair thanks to a new partnership between the two organizations. “We’re thankful for the support of Permobil Foundation to empower our members to attain greater independence,” said James Weisman, president and CEO of United Spinal. “Their partnership has helped us expand our mission to improve the quality of life for all people with spinal cord injury and disease.” Grants are limited and will be given based on financial need. Since its launch in March 2017, Permobil Foundation has supported more than 350 individuals and 250 nonprofit organizations.

ResMed sponsors studies, wins award

SAN DIEGO – ResMed will present and/or sponsor 15 abstracts at the SLEEP 2019 conference, June 8-12 in San Antonio. The abstracts highlight the updated prevalence of sleep apnea, and best practices for diagnosing and effectively treating the common chronic disease. Abstract titles include “Effect of CPAP Use on Readmission Rates in Hospitalized Patients with Cardiovascular Disease and Sleep-disordered Breathing” and “Americas Prevalence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults: Estimation Using Currently Available Data”… ResMed’s AirMini travel CPAP is the winner of MedTech Breakthrough’s Best Overall Medical Device Product for 2019. MedTech Breakthrough received more than 3,500 nominations for a number of awards across a range of categories. The awards recognize top companies, people, platforms and products in health, fitness and medical technology industries.

RESNA announces student finalists

WASHINGTON – RESNA has announced the finalists for its Student Design Challenge. This annual, international competition recognizes innovative and creative assistive technology designs by undergraduate and graduate students at major universities. Entries are judged on originality, quality of design, and usefulness to persons with disabilities. The six finalists will travel to RESNA’s 2019 annual conference, June 24-28 in Toronto to present their work prototypes to a panel of industry judges. The top three winners, announced on June 27 during the conference plenary session, will receive a cash award. This year’s finalists include “SmartHub: An Activity Monitoring Device for Manual Wheelchair Users.”