In brief: Industry issues last call to action, OIG finds no access issues

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Friday, June 9, 2017

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders spent Friday pushing to get as many signatures as possible on a letter asking HHS Secretary Tom Price to make significant changes to HME policy.

The goal is at least 150: at press time, there were 112.

The letter is spearheaded by Rep. Cathy McMorriss Rogers, R-Wash., and five other representatives.

The uptick in commitments comes after AAHomecare’s Washington Legislative Conference, May 26-27.

Throughout the day on Friday, AAHomecare and HME providers took to Twitter to post updates and rally the troops, so to speak.

“Make the call or email, let’s make the final push for signatures,” the association tweeted.

VGM reports that its VGM Action Center has been used to send more than 1,000 letters to members of Congress in the past two weeks, urging them to sign the letter.

OIG: Bid program did not impede access

WASHINGTON – Most Medicare beneficiaries continued to have access to CPAP/RAD devices after Round 2 of the competitive bidding program began, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

For CPAP/RAD supplies, however, Medicare payments stopped for 46% of beneficiaries in Round 2 CBAs, compared to 33% in non-bid areas.

“The decline may or may not indicate disruptions in receiving needed supplies,” the OIG stated. “For example, the decline may indicate that the program reduced the provision of unnecessary supplies, as CMS determined to be the case with Round 1 of the program.”

The OIG conducted the study in response to a 2014 letter in which members of Congress expressed concerns about the program’s impact on access to DME.

The OIG says its findings are consistent with CMS’s conclusion that the bidding program is not impeding access to CPAP/RAD devices.

Round 2 of competitive bidding kicked off July 1, 2013.

Brightree buys Conduit Technology

‘The next logical area in need of automation is the intake process,’ says CEO Matt Mellott

ATLANTA – Brightree has acquired Conduit Technology, a provider of documentation and workflow solutions.

Conduit Technology’s flagship product, Conduit Office, is the engine behind Brightree’s MyForms.

“Historically, HMEs have used automation tools in their back-end operations to achieve greater operational efficiencies, typically around the billing process,” said Matt Mellott, president and CEO of Brightree. “The next logical area in need of automation is the intake process, and MyForms will play a significant role in Brightree delivering a robust and comprehensive intake solution.”

The acquisition will allow Brightree to enhance MyForms to give HME providers greater access to workflow and automation technology to eliminate paper forms, reduce claim denials, improve audit outcomes and create process integrity, especially in the order intake process.

Brightree introduced providers to MyForms in 2014, when it formed a strategic partnership with Conduit Technology. Now more than 200 providers with nearly 7,000 users leverage the solution to cut order-processing times, accelerate the time to submit claims, and reduce errors during order creation and confirmation, the company says.

“MyForms has reshaped the intake process for many of our customers,” said Bobby Shoshal, COO of Brightree.

Using MyForms, providers can create custom forms based on provider- and payer-specific business rules. Once forms are created, documents are automatically populated with patient and order data from the Brightree system.

Terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

Two large providers in Iowa merge

CONRAD, Iowa – NuCara Pharmacy & Home Medical, headquartered here, has acquired Hammer Medical Supply, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, according to the Times Republican. Per the deal, Hammer Medical Supply will continue operating its nine locations under its own name. Three of the four owners of Hammer Medical Supply—Rick Johnson, Kurt Johnson and Mark Johnson—will retire, and the remaining owner, Terry Flatt, will stay on as a stockholder and Hammer’s CEO. “The Johnsons were ready to retire, and we didn’t want the company to dissolve,” Flatt told the newspaper. Together, NuCara and Hammer Medical Supply now have more than 30 locations in five states and employ more than 400 people. NuCara, which stated as a small pharmacy, entered the HME and supply industry in 1981.

Inogen nails down Cleveland facility

GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen has secured an additional facility in the Cleveland area to help grow its direct-to-consumer business, it announced June 2. The facility will allow the company to recruit employees from the Northeast to grow its sales force for that business, the company says. “We are planning on adding additional headcount of approximately 240 people in the Cleveland area location over the next three years,” said Scott Wilkinson, president and CEO. “We look forward to having a sales and service support location in the Eastern time zone, which we think will allow us to better serve our customers.” As of Dec. 31, 2016, Inogen’s sales force for the direct-to-consumer business comprised 177 sales representatives located in the company’s Goleta, Calif., and Richardson, Texas, facilities. The Cleveland area facility will also include customer service and support functions. Inogen has secured tax benefits from state and local governments of up to $1.9 million over the next three years based on forecasted headcount additions and tenant improvement costs for the facility.

Golden beefs up exec team

OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies has made three key hires to lead growth for the company, including two newly created positions. Cy Corgan will serve as vice president of national accounts. Corgan has more than 25 years of experience in HME, and most recently served as national sales manager with EZ-Access. Jack Byrne will serve as CFO. He previously served as CFO at EXTOL, a privately owned software company, in Pottsville, Pa. Chris Carroll will serve as director of marketing. Caroll has more than 20 years of experience in public relations and marketing, most recently as the director of annual giving & alumni relations at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton.

Invacare proposes $100M raise

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare intends to offer $100 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2022 in a private offering to qualified institutional buyers, the company announced June 7. In connection with the offering, Invacare expects to grant the initial purchaser an option to purchase up to an additional $15 million aggregate principal amount of notes that will be delivered within a 13-day period beginning on the date the company first issues the notes. Final terms of the notes, including the initial conversion price, interest rate and certain other terms of the notes, will be determined at the time of pricing. The notes will bear interest semi-annually and will mature on June 1, 2022, unless repurchased or converted. Invacare intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to pay the cost of the convertible note hedge transaction. It also intends to use any remaining net proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes, which may include funding portions of its ongoing turnaround.

Medtrade offers discount for early registration

ATLANTA – Early registration for Medtrade opens Monday, June 12. This year’s show takes place Oct. 23-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center. In May, show organizers announced that they were shortening the show from four days to three, with extended hours for the show floor. Registering early saves up to $75 on the expo and more than $200 on the conference, according to a press release. “Demand for HME will continue to skyrocket, and Medtrade can help providers by giving them the tools they need,” said Kevin Gaffney, show director. “The motivation, inspiration, and product ideas from Medtrade can truly set the stage for future success.” Register here.

Supply company owner accused of $1M in Medicaid fraud

NEW YORK – The owner of Monack Medical Supply has been indicted on charges of Medicaid fraud, according to a press release from the New York Attorney General’s Office. Kester Atumonyogo allegedly billed Medicaid and Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care organization, $1 million for an expensive nutritional formula while supplying patients with a lower-priced formula. According to the indictment, Atumonyogo used a fraudulent social security number to enroll Monack Medical Supply in the Medicaid program, and has a history of identity and welfare fraud. “New Yorkers pay into Medicaid to meet the healthcare needs of the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.“They deserve to know their dollars are going to help people, not profit unscrupulous business owners.” If convicted, Atumonyogo could face four to 25 years in prison.

VGM’s longtime COO retires

WATERLOO, Iowa – Jim Phillips, president and COO of the VGM Group, has retired, VGM announced June 1. Phillips has spent 25 years at the company, the last nine as COO. He was appointed president in January of 2016. “Jim has been a big part of VGM, and he will be greatly missed,” said Mike Mallaro, VGM’s CEO. “Jim remains a VGM Group board member, valued adviser and friend to so many of us in the VGM extended family.” Phillips joined VGM in 1991, when the company’s founder, the late Van G. Miller, recruited him to start an equipment leasing division. Phillips grew the division, known as VGM Financial Services, from one associate to more than 40 associates managing financing for the home health care and golf industries. VGM will not replace Phillips “at this time,” the company stated in an email to HME News. “Responsibilities previously held by the COO will be distributed among members of VGM’s senior leadership team,” it stated.

Hospital wholesaler buys DME company

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. – Professional Health Solutions, a DME company based here, has been acquired by ASP Global, a wholesaler of hospice medical supplies. Professional Health’s main business is fulfilling prescriptions for disposable wound care dressings direct to patient homes. “Adding Professional Health Solutions to the ASP Global family of companies expands our distribution to ‘the last mile’—the patient,” said Lorne Tritt, CEO of ASP Global. “It advances our mission of supporting the full continuum of care: hospitals, IDNs, home health, hospice and group practices.” Professional Health execs Pennie Wicks-Pelfrey and Jannetta Miller-Barger are staying on to run the company within ASP Global.

Diplomat Specialty Infusion expands into parenteral nutrition

URBANDALE, Iowa – Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group, a home infusion pharmacy, has added a sterile compounding environment to its Iowa location, paving the way for it to provide parenteral nutrition therapies. Diplomat’s location in Urbandale now features an ISO 7 cleanroom, the standard needed to compound IV nutrition formulations. A cleanroom is a controlled environment with a low level of pollutants. ThriveRx, the nutrition division, focuses on home parenteral and enteral nutrition. Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group is a brand of Diplomat Pharmacy, a large independent provider of specialty pharmacy services in all 50 states.

United Spinal names award winners

NEW YORK – United Spinal Association will host a Congressional Awards Reception on June 13 as part of its Roll on Capitol Hill to recognize members of Congress for their outstanding service to people with disabilities and veterans. The association will recognize Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with its James J. Peters Disability Rights Champion Award; Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., with its VetsFirst Congressional Bronze Star Award; and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., with its Junius A. Kellogg Congressional Outstanding Leadership Award. United Spinal will also honor disability advocates who have shown leadership and dedication to, and success in, state and/or federal policy issues impacting the broader disability community. This year, Frances M. Ozur Cole, the president of United Spinal's New Mexico Chapter, will receive the 2017 Finn Bullers Advocate of the Year Award. Jenn Wolff, formerly United Spinal's advocacy alliance manager, will receive the 2017 Grassroots Advocacy Award. Roll on Capitol Hill, in its sixth year, takes place June 11-14.

Legislation seeks to ease air travel for disabled passengers

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., has introduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act to protect the rights of disabled passengers and the close service gaps they face. More than 30,000 airplane passengers last year filed disability-related complaints. “To keep America’s promise of full equality for all, we must work to break down the barriers that individuals with disabilities and our veterans face when they travel,” said Baldwin in a press release. “Equal access to air travel ensures individuals with disabilities are able to participate in today’s economy and enjoy their travel opportunities.” Joining Baldwin on the bill: Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Conn., Tammy Duckworth, Ill., Maggie Hassan, N.H., and Ed Markey, Mass.

Short takes: BOC, Shield Healthcare, Sunrise Medical

The Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) is now accepting nominations for its board of directors. Directors serve four-year terms and must participate in four board meetings annually. For more information, or to obtain a nomination form, go to bocusa.org/boc-board-directors…Shield Healthcare is pushing its OstomyLife program nationwide as part of its renewed commitment toMedicare ostomy patients. …Sunrise Medical celebrated World Environment Day June 5. The manufacturer is committed to using sustainable practices in its facilities, embracing processes to conserve natural resources, avoiding pollution and reusing materials and recycling.