In brief: Verma one step closer to CMS, bills introduced to protect accessories

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Friday, March 3, 2017

WASHINGTON – Seema Verma is headed to the full Senate for confirmation as CMS Administrator.

The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday voted 13-12 to advance Verma’s nomination.

“We need experienced and responsible leadership at the helm of our federal agencies and CMS is no exception,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the committee. “The challenges plaguing both Medicare and Medicaid require a strong partnership between the administration and Congress to improve these programs and help enact the necessary reforms to ensure their solvency for future generations. Ms. Verma will help facilitate that partnership and as we work to repeal and replace Obamacare, she will play a vital role in realigning the focus on patient-centered solutions. I look forward to her nomination being considered by the full Senate.”

It was the committee’s second vote on Verma. On Wednesday, it was deadlocked in a tie, 9-9.

Verma is founder and CEO of SVC, a health policy consulting firm. She has worked with a number of states, most notably Indiana, to redesign their Medicaid programs in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

During a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 16, Verma said that one-size-fits-all approaches to healthcare, like CMS’s competitive bidding program, don’t always work. She made the comment in response to a question from Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., about whether she would be willing to continue to have a dialogue about how the bid program can ensure Medicare beneficiaries, especially those in rural states, get the medical equipment they need.

Bills introduced to protect accessories

WASHINGTON – Industry champions in the Senate and House of Representatives have introduced bills to permanently stave off Medicare’s plans to apply competitive bidding-influenced prices to accessories for complex wheelchairs.

Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rob Portman, D-Ohio, and Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., have introduced S. 486 and H.R. 1361, NCART reported on Friday.

“Our next step will be to secure co-sponsors,” NCART stated in a bulletin. “Stay tuned and polish up your advocacy skills. This is going to be a great year for CRT!”

Stakeholders succeeded late in 2016 to secure a six-month delay in Medicare’s plans, pushing the implementation date to at least July 1, 2017.

Hospice Cloud bulks up business with Genesis Healthcare

ATLANTA and RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – Genesis Healthcare Services and Hospice Cloud, two providers of HME to hospice organizations, have merged, company officials announced Feb. 23.

The acquisition of Atlanta-based Genesis Healthcare helps Richland Hills, Texas-based Hospice Cloud, which owns and operates 60 service centers and has partnerships with more than 200 HME providers, maintain its position as a “market leader” providing HME for the hospice industry.

“The addition of Genesis Healthcare expands our presence in the Southeast and supports our vision of delivering the most comprehensive DME solution to our hospice patients and their partners,” said Bill Monast, president and CEO of Hospice Cloud.

Indianapolis-based Home Health Depot, an HME provider, is the parent company of Genesis Healthcare. It became the majority shareholder of the five-location company in 2012.

Genesis Healthcare represents the third major acquisition in a little over a year for Hospice Cloud.

Hospice Cloud, a management platform and network for providers offering HME to the hospice industry, is the brainchild of National HME, a provider of HME to hospice organizations in the Dallas Forth Worth area.

Tailwind Capital, a growth oriented middle-market private equity firm, is the lead investor in National HME and Hospice Cloud.

Core Products buys Swede-O

OSCEOLA, Wis. – Core Products International, a manufacturer of braces, supports, orthopedic soft goods and hot and cold therapy, has acquired Swede-O. North Branch, Minn.-based Swede-O manufactures products that help to prevent and rehabilitate ankle-related injuries. While Core Products is well known in the alternative healthcare and home healthcare markets, Swede-O is best known in the athletic, rehab and podiatry markets. “We are looking forward to leveraging our innovative capabilities, lean manufacturing process and marketing expertise to grow the Swede-O brand,” said Philip Mattison, president and founder of Core Products. Core Products will continue to operate Swede-O from North Branch. Customers will continue to place orders and receive customer service through the company.

Insulet posts 24% increase in revenue

BILLERICA, Mass. – Insulet Corp. has reported fourth quarter revenue of $103.6 million, representing year-over-year growth of 24%. Net loss was $9.2 million vs. $15.9 million. Fourth-quarter revenue in the U.S. for Omnipod was $61.3 million, a 17% increase, and internationally, $20.8 million, a 35% increase. Revenue from drug delivery was $19.6 million, a 34% increase. Insulet reported full year revenue of $367 million, representing year-over-year growth of 39%. Net loss was $27.2 million vs. $61.6 million. Full-year revenue in the U.S. for Omnipod was $229.8 million, a 21% increase, and internationally, $71.9 million, a 78% increase. Revenue from drug delivery was $65.3 million, a 92% increase. Among Insulet’s highlights in 2016: its divestiture of Neighborhood Diabetes’ medical supplies distribution business to focus on growth opportunities in insulin and drug delivery.

Aetrex buys maker of 3D orthotics, software

TEANECK, N.J. – Aetrex has acquired SOLS Systems, a New York-based company that provides 3D printed orthotics and software used to customize footwear, according to NJBIZ. SOLS will begin integrating its products with Aetrex’s newly launched Albert 3D foot scatter, it reported. “The integration of SOLS technology into our footwear and orthotics business will allow Aetrex to offer unmatched customization and adjustability across our product lines,” said Larry Schwartz, CEO of Aetrex.

Community pharmacy opens new location in medical center

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – NeighboRx Pharmacy has opened a new location within Orange Regional Medical Center’s outpatient building, according to Hudson Valley News. The location offers a full range of prescription medication services, as well as medical equipment and supplies, including walkers and rollators, diabetic supplies, wheelchairs, braces, crutches, and bath and safety supplies. “I can’t stress enough the importance of this new venture, which allows better collaboration among local physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare providers,” Rory Garland, a pharmacist and owner of NeighboRx Pharmacy, told the newspaper. “The collaborative effort among our established pharmacy and community hospital partner is indicative of effective relationships that should exist in the healthcare arena. These partnerships allow us to be more patient focused and deliver high-quality care.”

Minnesota senators seek to soften blow of upcoming Medicaid cut

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Two senators in the Minnesota state legislature have introduced a bill to address a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act that would limit the federal portion of Medicaid reimbursement for HME to competitive bidding-influenced Medicare reimbursement starting in 2018. The bill, introduced by Sens. Jim Abeler and Greg Clausen and still in draft form, reads: “Effective for services provided on or after January 1, 2018, the commissioner shall make supplemental payments to providers of durable medical equipment and medical supplies, for those items for which application of the medical assistance federal match payment limit specified in United States Code, title 42, section 1396b(i)(27), would result in a reduction in payment from the medical assistance payment rate in effect on December 31, 2017. The supplemental payment for each item shall be no less than the difference between the medical assistance payment rate in effect on December 31, 2017, and the medical assistance payment rate under United States Code, title 42, section 1396b(i)(27).”“There is a lot of work that will continue to see this bill goes through,” the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services stated in a bulletin to members.

Numotion gets exclusive for standing device

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has become the exclusive distributor for Tek RMD by Matia Robotics in the United States. Tek RMD is a motorized standing movement device that offers the ability for those who are in a manual wheelchair to complete everyday activities from a standing position. Unlike other standers, users can board and control the device unassisted. “Tek RMD is a life-enhancing technology that enables wheelchair users to participate in everyday life in a way they may have previously thought was not possible,” said Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. “The ability to independently and safely sit, stand and navigate environments that were once inaccessible is now a reality.” Tek RMD is available through assistive technology professionals or online at ShopNumotion.com. Through ShopNumotion.com, customers will be prompted to schedule an evaluation for individually configured customization.

Brightree helps providers get paid

ATLANTA – Brightree has released an app that gives HME providers a quick way to process patient payments through smartphones or tablets anywhere in real time. The Brightree Patient Collections GetPaidHME app, which runs on Apple and Android devices, allows users to scan a sales order directly from a delivery ticket. From there, the patient is added to the delivery queue, and sales order data, including recipient and payment information, is integrated into the app, eliminating the need for paper invoices. The app then posts a payment back into the Brightree core platform, streamlining the manual entry process, and the patient receives an email receipt confirming payment. Additional features of the app include adding orders to the sales order currently in delivery and signing up clients for Brightree’s AutoPay so future payments can be processed automatically.

VirtuOx keeps track with VirtuTrack

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – VirtuOx, a home respiratory diagnostic provider, has released a device that allows HME providers to track their equipment in the patient’s home. VirtuTrack attaches to equipment and automatically sends data daily to VirtuOx, allowing providers to monitor whether or not it is plugged in and turned on. “With VirtuTrack, you will be able to monitor patient compliance to any medical device, which can improve health outcomes, reduce hospital readmissions and eliminate the risk of losing equipment,” said Kyle Miko, founder and COO for VirtuOx. VirtuTrack can also tell providers when equipment is lost: The device pings a portal every hour with its location.

Medforce launches e-signature tool

SUFFERN, N.Y. – Medforce Technologies has launched an electronic signature tool built specifically for the healthcare industry. SignCenter allows providers to “dictate the signing experience,” Medforce says, by determining where and when a document can be signed. It allows signatures to be captured remotely or in-person, and to be executed using a keyboard, mouse or touch screen from any web-enabled device. “Most providers we talk to are still printing out forms for signature and then scanning or faxing them afterward,” said Steve Bainnson, vice president of sales for Medforce. “Paper gets lost, filled out incorrectly, requires manual data entry and causes billing errors that lead to lower reimbursement. Moving to SignCenter and implementing an electronic process adds control and visibility, increases productivity, improves compliance, and decreases time spent chasing paper.”

Medtrade Spring attendees pick top new products

LAS VEGAS – Medtrade Spring attendees voted for the Handy Cane by The Handy Cane of Salem, Mass., as the No. 1 new product in the show’s New Product Pavilion. They voted for VirtuCLEAN by VirtuOx of Coral Springs, Fla., for the No. 2 spot; and the Hoverboard Buddy by Inventor Lady of Denver for the No. 3 spot. The pavilion featured the most innovative HME products that have been on the market for less than one year, according to a press release from show organizers. Medtrade Spring took place Feb. 26-28 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Market for respiratory devices to hit $21.3B in five years

PORTLAND, Ore. – The global respiratory care device market was valued at $12.8 billion in 2015 and is projected to value $21.3 billion by 2022, according to a report published by Allied Market Research in February. That represents a CAGR of 7.4% from 2016 to 2022. Dominating the market, according to the report: the therapeutic segment, which accounted for more than half of the total market share in 2015. “The global respiratory care devices market is driven by factors such as increase in prevalence of respiratory diseases, rapid urbanization, rise in pollution level, growth in geriatric population, and increase in tobacco consumption worldwide,” the report states. North America dominates the market, according to the report, and it’s expected to maintain that stronghold due to the high adoption rate of respiratory devices.

AOPA: Send us your ideas for pilot programs

WASHINGTON – The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association, in partnership with the Center for O&P Learning & Evidence-Based Practice, has unveiled its 2017 requests for proposals for research. AOPA plans to give $15,000 each to four pilot programs in 16 potential areas of interest, including the effectiveness of custom vs. off-the-shelf ankle foot orthoses (AFOs), and the effect of prosthetic components on community activity level. “AOPA is dedicated to advancing the O&P evidence base, and these pilot grants give researchers a great opportunity to start projects that they can build on to secure more funding from NIH and other sources,” said Michael Oros, president of AOPA. “We have seen several researchers go on to publish their COPL-funded research, which speaks to the high quality of the research that is resulting from these funds.”

Short takes: QS/1, Active Controls, EZ-DME

Spartanburg, S.C.-based J M Smith, which operates QS/1 and other healthcare technology companies, has named A. Alan Turfe CEO and chairman of the board. Turfe succeeds William Cobb, long-time CEO and chairman. He joins J M Smith from Fresenius Medical Care, where he was senior vice president and chief procurement officer…Sewell, N.J.-based Active Controls has released a 20-page catalog featuring all of the products it offers. The 2017 Reference Guide includes new products like the Modular Harness Mounted Chin Controls and the Eclipse Trays featuring Stealth-linked driving technology…Bill Cobb, the CEO of Spartanburg, S.C.-based JM Smith, which operates QS/1 and other healthcare companies, will retire after 41 years. His successor will be named soon…FDS has named Michael Ziegler vice president, product and client services. He will be responsible for FDS’s reconciliation and claims management solutions, as well as its EZ-DME Billing Solution. “Michael has a strong background and understanding in a variety of pharmacy market segments, including retail pharmacy, home medical equipment and long-term care,” said Peter Fianu, president of FDS.