In brief: Stakeholders issue bid challenge, Invacare appoints new board member

Friday, September 20, 2019

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare asks providers to zero in on lawmakers who have previously co-sponsored bid-relief legislation and ask them to support H.R. 2771.

H.R. 2771, introduced in May by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Dave Loebsack, D. Iowa, has 37 co-sponsors. H.R. 4229, introduced in 2017, had 53 original co-sponsors.

“Over the next 10 days, we ask the HME community in these states to make contact with House members who co-sponsored H.R. 4229 in the last Congressional session and ask them to sign onto H.R. 2771,” the association states in a bulletin. “There are a total of 86 of these House members (26 Democrats, 60 Republicans) who should be open to signing on again—and now is the time to get them on board!”

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. It would also eliminate the budget neutrality requirement for oxygen therapy.

In particular, getting support from the 13 members of the Ways & Means Committee and 11 members of the Energy & Commerce Committee who were co-sponsors of H.R. 4229 would bolster the industry’s efforts, says AAHomecare.

The states in which members have not yet signed onto H.R. 2771 are: Alabama (2), Arizona (1), Arkansas (2), California (5), Colorado (2), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Kansas (1), Kentucky (3), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (3), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (3), Missouri (6), Montana (1), Nebraska (2), New Hampshire (1), New York (2), North Carolina (5), Ohio (6), Oklahoma (3), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (3), Texas (5), Utah (1), Vermont (1), Virginia (3), Washington (3), Wisconsin (4), and Wyoming (1).

The complete list of members who co-sponsored H.R. 4229 but not yet H.R. 2771 can be found here.

Medical Service Company expands in Michigan

CLEVELAND – Medical Service Company has acquired the assets of Beaumont Health’s HME business in southeast Michigan, according to Modern Healthcare.

Those assets include four freestanding offices in Madison Heights, Berkley, Macomb and Riverview, and two offices at Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak and Troy, the publication reported.

“Detroit is an outstanding healthcare market,” Joel Marx, chairman of Medical Service Company, told Modern Healthcare. “You have multiple systems in the market. I think we can expand significantly beyond the Beaumont footprint.”

The deal closed in July.

Medical Service Company hired most of the 100 employees who worked for Beaumont Home Medical Equipment, according to Modern Healthcare.

Medical Service Company now operates in six states (Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky), specializing in respiratory products and services.
It’s not the first time Medical Service Company has bought the HME assets of a hospital, Marx told Modern Healthcare.

“Hospitals have found when they work with companies that only do this, it is done more effectively and efficiently,” he said.

Provider numbers continue to decrease

WASHINGTON – The number of suppliers between January and April of this year decreased about 2.7%, according to AAHomecare. Overall, the number of unique suppliers has decreased 39% and the number of supplier locations has decreased 35% since the start of the competitive bidding program in 2011.

Invacare appoints new board member

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare has appointed Julie Beck to its board of directors. Beck has more than 30 years of experience in the manufacturing, industrial and consumer industry, and has served as senior vice president and CFO for NOVA Chemicals Corp., a petrochemical company, since 2016. A certified public accountant, she will serve as a member of the company’s audit and nominating and governance committees. “We have a strong, engaged board already, and Julie’s financial expertise and experience in companies and industries facing substantial transformation will be a good addition,” said Matt Monaghan, chairman, president and CEO. “Julie has proven to be a talented leader who will offer a fresh perspective about our company and the markets we serve.”

RESNA seeks conference proposals

ARLINGTON, Va. – The call for proposals for RESNA’s 2020 Conference is now open. The deadline is Nov. 15 for workshops, papers and instructional courses; the deadline is March 27, 2020, for the student design challenge. RESNA’s 2020 Conference takes place July 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va. More information is available here.

Philips launches CPAP alternative

AMSTERDAM – Philips has commercially launched NightBalance, a mask-free CPAP alternative for patients with positional obstructive sleep apnea. People with positional OSA experience higher breathing disturbances while sleeping on their backs as opposed to their sides. NightBalance encourages patients to change their sleeping positions with gentle vibrations. “We are always looking to evolve our solutions to help people living with sleep apnea take control of their health,” said Mark D’Angelo, Sleep OSA Business Leader at Philips. “The right sleep therapy varies person-to-person, and for those who suffer from positional obstructive sleep apnea, it can be defeating when traditional therapies don’t meet their specific needs. With Philips NightBalance, positional obstructive sleep apnea patients now have a non-invasive and comfortable treatment option that can be successful, resulting in long term therapy adherence.” NightBalance comes with wireless connectivity, and a mobile app that monitors product use and provides patients and physicians with access to data via a cloud-based system. In a recent study, participants found SPT easier to use. Royal Philips acquired NightBalance in 2018.

Report: Home oxygen users at risk for fire

LONDON – A patient dies every four days in fires involving home oxygen in the U.S., according to a new report from BPR Medical. During a 20-month period, 311 incidents resulting in 164 deaths were recorded. The majority of deaths (145) were the oxygen users themselves, while 18 were family members or other residents. Exploding cylinders are referenced in 33% of reported incidents, creating a high risk for emergency services and members of the public. BPR Medical is a manufacturer of medical gas therapy solutions and received a Queen’s Award for Innovation for its Firesafe product line.

United Spinal to hold leadership meeting

NEW YORK – United Spinal Association will hold its 7th Annual Chapter Leadership Meeting Oct. 3-5 in Las Vegas. The meeting of more than 50 chapter leaders will help the organization identify critical needs within the spinal cord injuries and disorders community. This year’s meeting also will highlight how chapters can build membership, partnerships and community engagement; and will feature a “Creativity Award” that will be presented to a chapter that has found creative ways to connect with its members. For more information, visit

VGM nabs top workplace in Iowa

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has been selected as Iowa’s Top Workplace in the large employer category for the third time in five years. The company has taken the top spot in each of the three years it has participated: 2015, 2017 and 2019. “We’re once again extremely honored to be recognized as the Top Workplace in the state,” said Mike Mallaro, CEO, who also won a leadership award in the large employer category. “The award is particularly rewarding knowing it is based on how our employees feel about VGM and how we work.” Rankings are based on anonymous surveys of employees conducted by Energage, a research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. VGM’s management team will review the surveys and anonymous comments to recognize areas where the company excels and areas where it may need to improve. “In addition to the pride that comes with this recognition, we also gain valuable insight from our employees’ responses to the surveys and use that feedback to make adjustments and continue to get better,” said Sara Laures, senior vice president of people and strategy.

Home infusion gets high marks from patients, survey finds

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Home and specialty infusion patients are very satisfied with their care, according to the first quarter results of the National Home Infusion Foundation’s Home Infusion Patient Satisfaction Benchmarking Program. When patients were asked if they were satisfied with the overall quality of the services they received, 97.47% said they agreed or strongly agreed, according to the results of the survey. Nearly 99% of patients also reported home infusion professionals are strong in communicating instructions on procedures, the survey found. As part of the program, survey results were collected from 1,369 program participants, representing 6,958 patients who received home infusion services between January and March 2019. NHIF is a nonprofit that aims to advance home and specialty infusion, and to support the enhancement of patient care and patient outcomes through leadership, research and education.

UPitt accepting applications for assistive technology course

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, Continuing Education (RSTCE) is now accepting applications for its 2020 AT CERT course. The course will cover wheelchairs, communications devices and sensory aids in a blended online and hands-on learning format. “The AT CERT course is moving into its seventh year with more than 200 past attendees who have a near perfect pass rate on the RESNA ATP certification exam,” said Mark Schmeler, PhD, OTR/L, ATP, associate professor and AT CERT course director. Any professionals in the rehabilitation field who are interested in gaining a fundamental but comprehensive understanding of the field of AT, as well as preparing for the ATP exam, are encouraged to apply. The 2020 course will be delivered through online modules, case studies, evidence-based practice, best practice guidelines, model client assessments and presentations. Also part of the course: virtual conference calls every other week from January to May; and a two-day, hands-on lab workshop in Pittsburgh at its conclusion. Applicants will be notified by Dec. 1 of the status of their applications.

Bongo Rx rates high in survey

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – More than 70% of 200 people with mild to moderate sleep apnea who were recently surveyed would prefer to try the Bongo Rx over traditional CPAP therapy if given the choice, according to AirAvant Medical, maker of the Bongo Rx. “I feel the results of the Qualtrics Survey reflect that mild to moderate OSA sufferers want a simple and effective alternative to traditional CPAP,” said Bruce Sher, president of AirAvant Medical. “It’s gratifying that years of effort by our team to develop the Bongo Rx have yielded such a great outcome.” The survey was conducted Sept. 4-11. The Bongo Rx is a small nasal device that doesn’t require a CPAP device, mask, hose, headgear, electricity or power.

Mayor’s Office honors ‘relentless’ advocate

NEW YORK – James Weisman, president and CEO of United Spinal Association, was awarded a certificate of recognition from the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities during the recent Disability Awareness Night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y. Weisman received the certificate for his advocacy to expand disability rights and access to transportation for wheelchair users in New York City and across the country. “When Jim is at the table, he is vocal and relentless in the pursuit of equality,” said Victor Calise, commissioner at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “He not only points out the issues that need to be fixed but comes with solutions and understanding that we all need to work together to improve people’s lives.” Weisman is a recognized expert on disability rights and has led efforts on public transit and taxicab accessibility in New York City and other major cities. Most recently, Weisman and United Spinal played a pivotal role in securing an historic settlement agreement with New York City to make every street corner in every borough wheelchair accessible. The agreement calls for the completion of pedestrian ramp installations and upgrades at the about 162,000 street corners in the city.