In brief: Package includes change to ordering, Aeroflow launches investment division

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Friday, April 3, 2020

WASHINGTON – The stimulus package passed March 27 also includes provisions that allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to order DMEPOS and home health services for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, AAHomecare reports.

Previously, PAs, NPs and CNSs were only able to order DMEPOS for Medicare beneficiaries, not Medicaid beneficiaries.

“These provisions will significantly improve Medicaid patient access to DMEPOS by allowing highly skilled physician assistants and nursing professionals to order these products and services,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.

The package requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulatory guidance allowing the provisions to take effect within six months.

AAHomecare says it has been working with the American Academy of PAs and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in advocating for the this policy change for a few years.

The provisions are covered in section 3707 of the package on pages 372-79.

CMS accelerates payments to providers

Agency anticipates payments will be issued within seven days of requests

WASHINGTON – CMS announced on Saturday that it is expanding its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers, including DME providers, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Accelerated and advance Medicare payments provide emergency funding and address cash flow issues based on historical payments when there is disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing.

“With our nation’s health care providers on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, dollars and cents shouldn’t be adding to their worries,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Unfortunately, the major disruptions to the health care system caused by COVID-19 are a significant financial burden on providers.”

CMS is expanding the program for all Medicare providers throughout the country. The payments can be requested by hospitals, doctors, DME providers and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers.

To quality, providers must:

Have billed Medicare for claims within 180 days immediately prior to the date of signature on the provider’s request form

Not be in bankruptcy

Not be under active medical view or program integrity investigation

Not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments

Medicare will start accepting and processing the accelerated/advance payment requests immediately. CMS anticipates that the payments will be issued within seven days of the provider’s request.

www.cms.gov/files/document/Accelerated-and-Advanced-Payments-Fact-Sheet.pdf

McKesson responds to PPE shortage

IRVING, Texas – McKesson has put restrictions in place for personal protective equipment, including limiting orders to only current customers and monitoring how much they’re ordering. “Unfortunately, customers may not be able to get enough PPE from McKesson to satisfy their needs,” the company stated in an update. “The demand for PPE continues to increase daily in the U.S., compounding the unprecedented global surge in demand for these items that started in late January. In addition to the increase in need, production delays from manufacturers in China continue to impact both current inventory and how quickly resupply can become available in our distribution centers.” McKesson says it is committed to getting critical supplies to customers, working with government agencies like the HHS, CDC and FEMA.

Aeroflow goes big with new venture

ASHVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has launched Aeroflow Ventures to focus on expansion opportunities, including mergers and acquisitions.

The new division will also look at joint ventures and private equity investment in durable medical equipment companies nationwide.

"For DME companies that are considering partnership, sales or spin-off opportunities, there are so many ways to achieve an outcome that works for everyone," said Scott Sonnone, CFO at Aeroflow. "Whether the interest is in a quick path to liquidity or the desire for a broader partnership, we are open to the full spectrum of possibilities.”

In particular, Aeroflow Ventures is interested in sleep therapy, urology and incontinence care, but will consider other opportunities as well, says Sonnone.

Aeroflow Healthcare has also launched a new website, http://aeroflowinc.com/.

The company, which was founded in 2001, has been named for three consecutive years to the Inc. List of 5000 Fast Growing Companies.

Trump invokes DPA to boost ventilator manufacturers

WASHINGTON – President Trump has formally invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure that domestic manufacturers, including General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed and Royal Philips, can produce ventilators. In a statement the president said: “I am grateful to these and other domestic manufacturers for ramping up their production of ventilators during this difficult time. Today’s order will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators.”

Philips Respironics ramps up vent production

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Philips Respironics has committed to doubling its hospital ventilator production by May and quadrupling it by the third quarter. It is hiring dozens of new workers and says its existing workforce remains committed to producing this high-quality, much-needed equipment. “The urgency and fluidity of the situation continues to impact our business, our customers and our employees around the world,” says John Frank, business leader, Sleep and Respiratory Care, Philips. “As a company we remain focused on our triple duty of care to ensure the health and safety of employees, fulfill critical customer needs, and ensure business continuity. I am proud of the entire Sleep and Respiratory Care team, including Philips production and supply crews, and the many others across Philips who are stepping up, collaborating and driving this massive undertaking including the rapid scale-up of manufacturing of urgently needed products during this crisis.”

Ford, GE step up to produce vents

DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, will begin producing a third-party ventilator with the goal of producing 50,000 units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed.

Ford will provide its manufacturing capabilities to scale production, and GE Healthcare will provide clinical expertise and will license the current vent design from Airon Corp., a Melbourne, Fla.-based company specializing in high-tech pneumatic life support products.

“The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO.

The GE/Airon Model A-E vent operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing most of the needs of COVID-19 patients, the companies say.

Ford expects to produce 1,500 vents by the end of April; 12,000 by the end of May; and 50,000 by July 4—helping the U.S. government of meeting its goal of producing 100,000 vents in 100 days.

Ford’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., will produce the vents nearly around the clock, with 500 employees working on three shifts. Airon currently produces three Airon pNeuton Model A ventilators per day in Melbourne, Fla. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week.

Vertess taps new managing director

FORT WORTH, Texas – Vertess has hired Chris Nielson as a managing director. Neil, formerly a managing partner at Four Capital, is an experienced advisor in the durable medical equipment and home health space. “After talking with Chris about his background and goals, it was clear we shared a common desire to provide knowledgeable and ethical advice to our clients,” said Brad Smith, managing director/partner at Vertess. Vertess’ expertise includes DME, pharmacies, home care, hospice and urgent care.

U of Arizona device could help treat COVID-19

TUCSON, Ariz. – Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine have invented a new respiratory assistive device that may help patients with COVID-19. The device, originally developed for patients with asthma and COPD, is a low pressure heliox rebreathing system that removes carbon dioxide while adjusting for humidity as it recirculates gases in a closed system. When COVID-19 hit, “We saw that we could have a huge impact if we could make this available quickly to clinicians and first responders," said Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, professor of medicine and chief of the University of Arizona Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

Soleo Health to offer Xembify

FRISCO, Texas – Soleo Health has been selected by Grifols as a limited drug distribution partner for Xembify, which treats primary immunodeficiencies. Soleo was chosen based on its dedicated immunology disorders program and knowledge and experience in the provision of subcutaneous immunoglobulin (IG) services. “Soleo Health’s distinctive model allows us to provide subcutaneous IG delivery across a variety of settings, including the home, ambulatory infusion sites and physicians’ offices,” said Craig Vollmer, chief commercial officer at Soleo.

WellSky boosts care coordination

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – WellSky has launched WellSky Care Coordination, an analytics driven platform that delivers care coordination between payers, health systems and post-acute care providers to safely treat patients of a higher acuity in the home rather than in hospitals. To address the anticipated hospital bed shortages as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, WellSky activated its care coordination network, including 10,000 home care agencies, to preserve limited resources and provide in-home care to non-COVID-19 patients who would typically use those beds. “Home-based care models can reduce the burden on the healthcare system by freeing up hospital beds for severely ill patients and allowing those who are less critical to recover safely and comfortably at home,” said Bill Miller, CEO. The initiative derives from a collaboration between Amedisys, a provider of home health care, and ClearCare, a subsidiary of WellSky. Through the ClearCare platform, Amedisys has connected more than 1,300 personal care agencies to its more than 320 home health agencies in 34 states.

PlayMaker shares data

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – PlayMaker Health has released its third quarter 2019 Post-Acute Market Data Update, including a 3.38% decline in home health admissions based on volume. Other data points from the update: 59.9% of home health referrals were from community sources and 41.1% were from institutional sources; hospice admissions increased 3.8% based on volume; and the average length of hospice stay was 55 days with a median of 16 days. “Our ability to provide actionable insights on claims data trends empowers our clients with a competitive advantage that goes beyond simply purchasing market data,” said Gregg Boyle, CEO. “We will continue to enhance the platform and work toward real-time data to deliver more value to our client partners as they work to expand their business.”

Aulisa positions remote monitoring as solution

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Aulisa Medical says it is working with government officials at FEMA and in Washington state and New York to increase access to its wearable wireless vital sign monitoring systems during the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s Guardian Angel devices, which are FDA approved and HIPAA compliant, monitor pulse rate, oxygen saturation and perfusion index, offering continuous remote monitoring. They also offer alarms, two-way audio and video communication. Aulisa currently has CPT coding and is in the process of applying for HCPCS coding. It sells the devices to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, step-down units, dialysis centers, assisted living facilities, hospice centers, as well as directly to consumers through its website.