In brief: Repayment terms, PHE renewal, virtual events

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Friday, October 9, 2020

WASHINGTON – CMS announced on Oct. 8 new terms for payments issued under the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program. 

Under the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act,” repayment will now begin one year from the issuance date of each provider’s or supplier’s accelerated or advance payment. 

“In the throes of an unprecedented pandemic, providers and suppliers on the frontlines needed a lifeline to help keep them afloat,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “CMS’s advanced payments were loans given to providers and suppliers to avoid having to close their doors and potentially causing a disruption in service for seniors.” 

CMS issued $106 billion in payments to providers and suppliers to alleviate the financial burden healthcare providers faced while experiencing cash flow issues in the early stages of public health emergency. More than 28,000 Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners and DME suppliers, received advance payments totaling more than $8.5 billion. 

HHS renews public health emergency 

WASHNGTON – Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has renewed the COVID-19 national public health emergency. The renewal is effective Oct. 23 for another 90 days. The PHE has been in place since Jan. 27. Several relief efforts related to HME are tied to the duration of the PHE, including 50/50 blended reimbursement rates for rural areas; 75/25 blended reimbursement rates for non-rural, non-bid areas; and the elimination of the coverage criteria and face-to-face requirements for respiratory equipment and infusion pumps.  

VGM to host virtual event for McMorris Rodgers 

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM will host a virtual event for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., on Wednesday, Oct. 14. McMorris Rodgers is the lead sponsor of H.R. 2771, would make permanent a 50-50 blended reimbursement rate in rural areas and would introduce a 75-25 rate for non-rural, non-bid areas; and H.R. 8158, which would eliminate the budget neutrality requirement for home oxygen therapy. VGM encourages providers to join Jim Kissler of NORCO, Tom Ryan of AAHomecare, Clint Geffert of VGM and Seth Johnson of Pride Mobility and Quantum Rehab at this event to thank Rep. McMorris Rodgers for her efforts and encourage her to continue fighting for quality medical equipment services and products for all. FMI

Rehab Medical opens fourth location in Indiana 

INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical has opened an additional office here, its fourth in the state. The provider employs 10 ATPs and numerous sales professionals at the office. “This new location allows us to get our patients the equipment they need quickly, while providing the quality of service that our patients need and deserve,” said Director of Sales Jason Neu. “Rehab Medical is here to improve lives and we look forward to being able to do that at a high level for many years to come.” Rehab Medical is a national provider of complex rehab technology. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Rehab Medical provides mobility services to patients across 14 states. Earlier this month, it expanded into Texas with its acquisition of San Antonio-based Wheelchairs Plus. 

PHS grows with Alliance Medical Supply 

ROSEVILLE, Minn. – Pediatric Home Service has partnered with Alliance Medical Supply in San Antonio to expand its presence in Texas. PHS also has branches in Dallas and Houston, as well as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. “We are excited to partner with Alliance,” said PHS CEO Cameo Zehnder. “They have similar values to PHS and have the same patient-first mentality that is at the core of every decision we make. We are looking forward to learning from and growing with Alliance.” Alliance Medical Supply, which offers respiratory and clinical nutrition services, will carry a co-brand with PHS before transitioning to a unified brand under the Pediatric Home Service name.  “PHS is recognized as a pioneer in pediatric home care,” said Howk Bethel, general manager for Alliance Medical Supply. “This partnership is an opportunity to bring additional resources and technology to our patients and families, including access to PHS’s in-depth education materials.” In addition to joining the PHS team through the Alliance Medical Supply partnership, Howk will also serve as general manager for all three branches in Texas.  

Council work groups set busy agenda 

WASHINGTON – The AAHomecare Medical Supplies Council has launched the Ostomy & Urologicals Work Group to address issues arising with UnitedHealthcare. The council will also create educational resources for regulators and payers on the importance of these products and how low reimbursement rates create access issues. The council’s Woundcare Work Group is developing resources to educate referral sources and suppliers on requirements for surgical dressings and Part B billing. The Incontinence Work Group, which recently developed a white paper, is planning strategic outreach to key states and payers regarding the importance of using quality products and adequate reimbursement to achieving better patient outcomes, overall cost savings and improved care. 

ISS reschedules for Oct. 26, 2021 

PITTSBURGH – The 37th International Seating Symposium, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, has been rescheduled for Oct. 26-30, 2021, in Pittsburgh. The main conference will begin on Oct. 28 and end mid-day on Oct. 30. Pre-conference workshops will take place Oct. 26-27. “We attempted to confirm that the revised schedule does not directly conflict with other events; however, the October 2021 dates are the only option to reschedule the 37th ISS,” said Mark Schmeler, associate professor/vice chairman for education and training in the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology at UPitt. “Note the plan for the in-person conference is dependent upon approval for gatherings relative to the COVID-19 situation in late 2021.” Remote attendance alternatives will be available for those who cannot or choose not to attend in person. ISS was originally scheduled for March 18-20, 2021. 

RESNA calls for presentations 

ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA has put out a call for presentations for its 2021 Annual Conference scheduled for July 7-10 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va. Its submission system will open on Nov. 1 at noon ET, and it will accept proposals through Nov. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET. RESNA seeks presentations that deliver current information, have a well-organized structure that stimulates and facilitates learning, and include discussions that draw on the expertise of participants. It’s accepting proposals in the following formats: 30-minute “buzz” sessions, 60-minute workshops and 75- to 90-minute master classes. 

NSF recognizes Itamar Medical for its home sleep test 

WASHINGTON – The National Sleep Foundation has named Itamar Medical, which develops and commercializes non-invasive medical devices and solutions to aid in the diagnosis of respiratory sleep disorder, as the winner of the 2020 SleepTech Award. The award recognizes the year’s most innovative efforts in advancing sleep technology. Itamar describes its WatchPAT ONE as the first and only disposable home sleep apnea test that connects to a smartphone app and easily transmits sleep data for review. “Their response to customer insights and needs is particularly relevant this year to promote better sleep health during a pandemic,” said John Lopos, CEO of NSF. The two semi-finalists for the award are EnsoData, a sleep scoring AI technology; and Bryte, a bed that measures, learns, tests and applies what sleepers need to improve their sleep. SoClean, best known for its CPAP cleaning devices, announced late last year that it had exclusive rights to market and sell the WatchPAT One to the direct-to-consumer market in the U.S. 

Essentially Women hosts mix of live, on-demand sessions 

WATERLOO, Iowa – Essentially Women will host its annual conference virtually in 2021. The Focus: The EW (Virtual) Conference will host eight live sessions Jan. 25-28, and more on-demand sessions Jan. 29-Feb. 28. “We made the tough decision to go virtual this year,” said Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women. “We would much prefer to meet in-person, but due to COVID-19, we knew it would be in the best interest of all participants if this year’s conference were virtual.” Live and on-demand sessions will span eight different tracks: post-mastectomy, leadership, compression, operations, sales and marketing, hair and wigs, and mother and baby. Essentially Women is also planning a virtual exhibit, allowing attendees to browse new product lines, shop for new partners and connect with vendors. Sample boxes will be sent to attendees prior to the conference, giving them the opportunity to still touch and feel some products in the comfort of their own homes. Registration is $75 per person through Oct. 31 and $95 after that. 

Merits promotes sales team members 

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – Merits USA and its sister brands Avid Rehab, Precision Comfort and Pilot have promoted Bret Tracy and Kirk Grau to regional sales directors. Tracy was previously the eastern regional sales manager and Grau was the western regional sales manager. “Kirk and Bret have consistently met and exceeded sales goals and have showcased nothing short of exemplary leadership,” said Dave Jones, executive sales director at Merits. As regional sales directors, Tracy and Grau will be responsible for continuing to direct and build their sales teams in their respective regions. Merits was established in 1995 as a subdivision of Merits Health Products in Taiwan. 

New relief funding available 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Health and Human Services has announced additional funding for health care providers through the Provider Relief Fund. Providers that already received their relief of 2% of net patient revenue through the $50 billion Phase 1 and 2 of General Distribution are again eligible for the new $20 billion Phase 3 of General Distribution, AAHomecare reports. Additionally, providers that started servicing patients in 2020 that were previously ineligible for the General Distribution Phase 1 & 2 of General Distribution are now eligible for this funding. HHS will determine the appropriate additional payments by considering the provider’s change in patient revenue, change in expenses from patient care and funding already received from other Provider Relief Fund payments. Applications for Phase 3 open Oct. 5 and end Nov. 6.