In brief: Noridian named new SMRC contractor, Bachenheimer opens DC office for Brown & Fortunato

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Friday, March 23, 2018

FARGO, N.D. – Noridian Healthcare Solutions has been awarded a $227 million Supplemental Medical Review Contractor (SMRC) contract by CMS. The primary role of the SMRC is to conduct nationwide medical review of Part A, Part B and DME providers as directed by CMS. Its responsibility is to review medical records and related documentation to ensure that claims are processed in accordance with CMS guidelines. The SMRC contract was previously held by StrategicHealthSolutions. To support the new contract, Noridian will be hiring about 300 people at its Fargo headquarters and throughout the country. Noridian also holds Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) contracts for DME for jurisdictions A and D, as well as the Pricing, Data Analysis and Coding contract.

Bachenheimer opens DC office for Brown & Fortunato

WASHINGTON – Cara Bachenheimer, a long-time advocate of the HME and complex rehab industries, is opening up a Washington, D.C., office for Amarillo, Texas-based Brown & Fortunato. Bachenheimer has worked for Invacare, most recently as senior vice president of government relations, for more than 14 years. Invacare will be Bachenheimer’s first client. “I appreciate Invacare’s continued support as I step away to help other businesses understand the impact of and help share future healthcare legislation and regulations,” she said. “I am pleased to continue to support Invacare’s government relations and lobbying efforts as a consultant for the company.” At Brown & Fortunato, Bachenheimer will expand her services in government relations, and legislative and regulatory matters. “We are excited that Cara is joining our firm,” said Jeff Baird, chairman of Brown & Fortunato’s National Health Care Group. “Cara’s expertise, coupled with our core practice areas, creates an exciting synergy.” Brown & Fortunato represents pharmacies, HME providers, home health agencies, hospitals, manufacturers, labs and other healthcare providers.

VA slow to repair wheelchairs, OIG finds

WASHINGTON – The Office of Inspector General has found that veterans waited an average of 69 days for power wheelchair and scooter repairs, more than a month beyond a 30-day timeliness benchmark set by the agency, according to a new report. “These delays occurred because staff and prosthetic service managers at the respective VA medical facilities did not always effectively manage and monitor repair requests,” the OIG stated in a report. “VA medical facility staff, including prosthetic service staff, did not always promptly input repair requests in the consult management systems so the requests could be properly tracked. Moreover, prosthetic service staff did not effectively monitor the completion of the repairs after the purchase orders for the repairs were issued and the consults were closed.” The OIG reviewed a statistical sample of power wheelchair and scooter repairs at eight VA medical facilities in Veterans Integrated Service Network 7. It identified about 380 veterans in the network who experienced delays in the completion of about 480 of the 1,200 repairs in fiscal year 2016. The OIG recommends that the director of VISN 7 implement controls to ensure medical facility staff initiate repair consults as soon as power wheelchair and scooter repair requests are received. It also recommends that staff follow consult documentation procedures, monitor and follow up on repairs until they are complete, and monitor vendors to ensure they meet agreed-upon delivery dates for repairs. The VISN 7 director concurred with the OIG’s report and recommendations, and provided an action plan to address them.

Baystate Health drops home infusion, respiratory services

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Baystate Health is handing over its home infusion and respiratory services business to CVS, according to the Greenfield Recorder. Baystate Home Infusion & Respiratory Services will close by the end of the month. After a strategic review, Baystate Health found “durable medical equipment and home delivery of respiratory services, and related equipment and supplies, are not a core business of Baystate Health,” a spokeswoman for the healthcare system told the newspaper. “The changing healthcare environment guided our decision-making.” The spokeswoman, Molly MacMunn, added, “We recognized that the services and opportunities to deliver home infusion and respiratory services to our patient population could be done in more innovative and efficient ways by companies whose core business focus is in the area of durable medical equipment and home delivery of respiratory services and related equipment and supplies.” Baystate Health services more than 800,000 people throughout western New England.

CAIRE achieves accreditation, goes direct with certain products

BALL GROUND, Ga. – CAIRE has achieved accreditation with the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHA), the manufacturer of oxygen therapy devices announced March 23. Accreditation paves the way for CAIRE to sell certain products (the Focus and FreeStyle series of wearable technology, Eclipse 5 POC and Companion 5 stationary oxygen concentrator) direct to consumer. “CAIRE is always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and this accreditation demonstrates our commitment to quality and the continuous improvement of our customer experience through industry standard best practices,” said George Coppola, director of marketing. CAIRE continues to sell its full line of products to HME providers. To achieve accreditation, healthcare organizations must demonstrate compliance with numerous national standards. ACHC, a CMS Deeming Authority for home health, hospice and DMEPOS, has been accrediting healthcare organizations since 1986.

3B Medical obtains ‘quick ramp’ to POCs

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – 3B Medical has acquired VBOX, a research and development company for portable oxygen concentrators. 3B Medical now has exclusive global licensing to VBOX’s extensive portfolio of intellectual property, including 14 U.S. and eight foreign patents. “The agreement provides 3B Medical with a very quick ramp to market for the most technologically advanced wearable oxygen concentrator in the world,” said Alex Lucio, CEO of 3B Medical. 3B Medical entered the oxygen therapy space last year, with the launch of the Cirrus 5 stationery concentrator, and said it planned to set its sights on POCs in 2018.

New online store offers braces and more

TAMPA, Fla. – A new online store, Braces, Bandages & Beyond, has launched. The site carries a wide array of items like neck and back braces, splints, and compression stockings, as well as DME like wheelchairs. "I saw an unmet need in the marketplace and I wanted to fill that," said Greg Grambor, president of VascularPRN, a distributor of compression devices, who launched the site. "Braces, Bandages, & Beyond is my attempt to bring great selection, great service, and low prices together in a modern online store."

Permobil increases prices

LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil will implement a 3% price increase on all seating and positioning products, excluding OBSS/NUTEC products, on April 2. The company has grown in recent months, acquiring Comfort Company, OBSS Custom Contoured Seating and NUTEC Custom Configured Seating systems, and continues to expand its ROHO seating and positioning portfolio. It has also added a dedicated seating and positioning sales team to better support providers. “This furthers our mission to continually deliver amazing products to our end users through our partnerships with dedicated and experienced providers like you,” the company stated in a notice. “This mission has also resulted in significant investments in premium materials, manufacturing and operational talent here in the U.S.”

VGM’s Homelink marks silver anniversary

WATERLOO, Iowa – Homelink is celebrating 25 years of connecting commercial insurance and workers’ compensation programs to home medical equipment and services, according to a press release. Homelink, a division of VGM Group, facilitates about 1,400 referrals per day and has grown from two employees to more than 400 employee owners. “Most of our growth is because people on the floor handling day-to-day operations do such a remarkable job taking care of our customers,” said Dave Kazynksi, Homelink president. “Our personal interaction paired with cost containment processes and dynamic system capabilities are what ensure our clients and their customers have a positive experience and achieve great outcomes.”

MAMES seeks board nominations

STILLWATER, Minn. – MAMES is seeking nominations for its board of directors. The nominees will be voted on at the association’s Spring Convention, April 25-27 in Des Moines, Iowa. Specifically, MAMES seeks to fill one regular board position each in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota, and two in Nebraska. It also seeks one associate director position. The three-year terms are effective from 2018-2021. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CST on March 30.

Parachute Health secures $5.5M in funding

NEW YORK – DME technology platform Parachute Health has raised $5.5 million to expand nationwide. The company integrates directly with Epic and other widely used electronic medical record software programs to create a completely digital prescription ordering process for DME based on machine learning technology that ensures compliance with ever-changing insurance requirements. “Despite decades of advancement across industries, healthcare still relies on the fax machine,” said CEO David Gelbard. “With Parachute, we are improving the experience.” The company will expand nationwide following a successful beta period last year. It estimates it currently covers 60% of the healthcare market in New York and has served more than 100,000 patients. It also has a presence in several other states. Parachute’s investors include Greater New York Hospital Association Ventures, Loeb Holding Corp., Anthony Welters (former executive vice president/office of CEO for United Health Group), Fred Browne (former president of McKesson Extended Care) and other healthcare innovators. Parachute is also in the middle of a Series A funding round to launch additional products and services. Gelbard founded the company after his 80-year-old father underwent back surgery and the walker that was ordered for him through his Medicare plan never arrived. During this time, he took over the family’s pharmacy and recognized firsthand the need to modernize the DME industry through technology. Before founding Parachute, Gelbard was an investment professional at Falcon Investments, a private equity firm with more than $2.5 billion in assets under management.