In brief: Industry loses leader, accessories included in another bill

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Friday, July 12, 2019

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Karyn Estrella, the president and CEO of Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England, has died at 61. She spent more than 20 years advocating for the HME industry. AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan told the attendees at the recent Washington Legislative Conference to channel Estrella in their congressional visits, calling her a “tiger.” “She leaves behind an amazing record of accomplishment, and a legacy of leadership and service to the HME community,” Ryan said in a statement. “I am fortunate to count myself among the many people in our industry who have had the opportunity to work directly with her and see the passion, professionalism and generosity of spirit she brought to her advocacy on behalf of HOMES and in support of her fellow HME leaders.” HOMES announced in April that Estrella would take a medical leave from the association after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

‘Two irons in the fire’ for accessories

WASHINGTON – The Health Subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives has approved a bill that would, among other things, stop CMS from applying bid pricing to complex rehab manual wheelchairs for one year.

H.R. 2328, the “Reauthorizing and Extending America’s Community Health Act,” would also permanently exclude complex rehab manual wheelchairs from the competitive bidding program.

“It’s a positive, as we now have two CRT irons in the fire, which indicates good support to fix our issue,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

Similar language also passed in the Ways and Means Committee in the House as part of H.R. 3429, the “HEARTS and Rural Relief Act” on June 26.

Now, “the next step will be to see what legislation makes its way to the House floor for a vote,” Clayback said.

H.R. 3429 could be headed for a vote by the full House before the August recess, while H.R. 2328 is headed for a vote by the full Energy & Commerce Committee.

“While this is all good progress, we still need to build co-sponsors on the standalone CRT bill H.R. 2993,” Clayback said.

H.R. 2993, introduced earlier this year by Reps. John Larson, D-Conn., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., would stop CMS from applying bid pricing for 18 months.

CMS proposes payment methodology for home infusion drugs

WASHINGTON – CMS has issued a proposed rule that would group home infusion drugs into three payment categories in preparation for the new home infusion benefit that starts in 2021. Each category would have a single unit of payment in accordance with specified infusion codes under the physician fee schedule. CMS is also proposing higher payment amounts for the first home infusion therapy visit, along with a small decrease in the payment amounts for each subsequent visit to make the adjustments budget neutral. The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, requires Medicare to pay for home infusion services associated with Part B infusion drugs.

AAH seeks nominations for homecare champion

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare seeks nominations for the 2019 Van Miller Homecare Champion. The award, which recognizes an AAHomecare member who has made an exceptional contribution to the homecare industry, will be presented at the Stand Up for Homecare reception at Medtrade, Oct. 21-23 in Atlanta. Nominees should have a longstanding record of service within the homecare community and embody a spirit of caring and generosity. Last year’s recipient was Regina Gillispie, resident and owner of Best Home Medical in West Virginia. Nominations can be submitted to Sue Mairena at suem@aahomecare.org by Friday, Aug. 23.

CMS releases bid tools

WASHINGTON – CMS has posted the DBidS User Guide, a step-by-step guide to walk providers through the process of submitting a bid for Round 2021 of competitive bidding, to the CBIC website. The agency has also released an FAQ in response to questions asked during its first three bid webcasts. Topics include lead-item pricing, bid bonds, required financial documents and bidder registration. It is available on the Education Events page, where the webcasts are also available on demand. The bid window opens July 16.

Stakeholders line up second ‘Bid Smart Summit’

DALLAS – Industry experts will once again be on hand for a “Bid Smart Summit,” this one Aug. 27 in the Dallas area. Featured speakers are Cara Bachenheimer of Brown & Fortunato, Kim Brummett of AAHomecare and Mark Higley of VGM Group. “The Summit will give the HME community one more chance to get up to speed on new aspects of the bidding program for Round 2021, including lead-item pricing and bid bond requirements, and how the bid rates will establish rates in non-competitive bidding areas,” an announcement states. The bid window opens on July 16 and closes on Sept. 18, just three weeks after the Summit. The cost for the Summit is $99 and space is limited. Register here. The first Summit took place in June in Nashville.

WellSky celebrates new headquarters

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – WellSky opened its new world headquarters here with a grand opening that featured a ribbon cutting and several prominent community speakers. “The opening of WellSky’s new world headquarters is another key milestone in our company’s long legacy of innovation, and our new space will better accommodate the needs of our clients and our dedicated employees,” said CEO Bill Miller. “Our rapidly growing workforce will now have more resources to develop industry-transforming health and community care solutions in our state-of-the-art space that inspires progress, innovation, and success for the clients we serve.” WellSky also announced that Topeka, Kan.-based Midland Care Connection is the inaugural recipient of a $50,000 donation from the WellSky Foundation. Midland Care, which provides services like hospice, home health, adult day care and Meals on Wheels, will use the money to renovate rooms in its hospice facility.

Quality Biomedical does brisk business in Boulder

BOULDER, Colo. – Quality Biomedical has doubled the size of its service center here. The center, which specializes in repairing respiratory equipment, including vents, POCs and apnea monitors, has received business orders from Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Nevada and California. “We knew this was an underserved area of the country when we opened our service center in Boulder last year,” said Jim Worrell, chief commercial officer, “but we did not expect to grow this fast.” In all, Quality Biomedical has 10 service centers across the country. The company has also increased the staff at its corporate offices in Boulder. “We are hiring customer service and sales representatives to help keep up with the demand and provide high levels of service,” Worrell said.

Short takes: eSolutions

Overland Park, Kan.-based eSolutions has appointed Chris Hart vice president, product & strategy. He will be responsible for overseeing strategic project development and managing the company’s expanding product suite. Hart was formerly vice president, strategy, for North America at Experian. eSolutions provides revenue cycle and workflow management technology…