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CPAP withdrawal: It may foster diabetes, heart disease, study says

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 09:12
06/16/2017HME News Staff

YARMOUTH, Maine – Not using CPAP therapy could have grave repercussions for patients with sleep apnea, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“OSA recurrence during CPAP withdrawal increases plasma free fatty acids (FFA) and glucose during sleep, associated with sympathetic and adrenocortical activation,” researchers concluded. “Recurring exposure to these metabolic changes may foster diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Researchers based their findings on a randomized crossover trail of CPAP vs. CPAP withdrawal. They used 31 patients with moderate to severe OSA acclimated to CPAP.

To conduct the study, patients underwent polysomnography while sleeping with CPAP or after CPAP withdrawal, in random order. Venous blood was sampled at about 20 minute intervals on both nights. In 11 patients, researchers assessed glucose kinetics with an infusion of 6,6-[2H2]glucose.

Researchers found CPAP withdrawal caused recurrence of OSA associated with hypoxemia, sleep disruption, and heart rate elevation. CPAP withdrawal dynamically increased nocturnal FFA (p = 0.007), glucose (p = 0.028), and cortisol (p = 0.037), in proportion to respiratory event frequency, heart rate elevation, or sleep fragmentation.

CPAP withdrawal also increased systolic blood pressure (p = 0.017) and augmentation index (p = 0.008), but did not affect insulin, triglycerides, glucose production, oral glucose tolerance, cholesterol, or hsCRP.

CMS details healthcare spending by state

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:00
06/15/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – While most states experienced faster growth in healthcare spending in 2014 due to Medicaid expansion and Health Insurance Exchange enrollment, per capita spending in Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states grew at similar rates, according to a CMS analysis of data from 1991-2014.

The data also shows that the most recent economic recession, which ended in 2009, and the modest recovery since then has had a sustained impact on healthcare spending and health insurance coverage. Every state experienced slower growth in per capita personal healthcare spending from 2010-13 vs. 2004-09, CMS says.

“Recent economic and health sector factors have had clear impacts by state, both by payer and in the rates of overall per capita personal healthcare expenditure growth; however, during the 2009-14 period, the variation in spending between the lowest and highest states was virtually unchanged,” said David Lassman, the lead author of a report on the data, published in Health Affairs.

Topline findings from the report include:

Considerable regional variation on personal health care spending

·      In 2014, the New England and Mideast regions had the highest levels of total per capita personal health care spending ($10,119 and $9,370, respectively), or 26% and 16% higher than the national average ($8,045).

·      In contrast, the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions had the lowest levels of total personal health care spending per capita in 2014 ($6,814 and $6,978, respectively) with average spending roughly 15% lower than the national average. 

Similar growth in Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states

·      While most states experienced faster growth in 2014 compared to 2013 due to Medicaid expansion and enrollment in Health Insurance Exchange plans, per capita health spending in Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states grew at similar rates, 4.4% and 4.5% respectively. The similar growth in per capita spending for expansion and non-expansion states was due largely to two effects: Faster growth in the use of healthcare goods and services in expansion states relative to non-expansion states due to a larger increase in the percent of people insured in those states; and faster growth in spending per insured person in non-expansion states relative to expansion states.

Impact of recent economic recession and recovery

·      The most recent economic recession, which ended in 2009, and modest recovery since then, had a sustained impact on health spending and health insurance coverage.

·      For 2010-13, per capita personal health spending grew at a rate of 2.8 % per year on average, substantially slower than during 2004-09, when spending averaged 5.2% growth per year.

·      During 2010-13, every state experienced slower growth in per capita personal health care spending with an average deceleration of just over two percentage points compared to the 2004-09 period. 

Three major payers

·      Medicare: States with above average per enrollee Medicare spending were generally located in the eastern United States while states with the lowest spending were generally in the western United States. The state with the highest per enrollee Medicare spending in 2014 was New Jersey ($12,614) with spending levels roughly 15% above the national average ($10,986). In 2014, Montana was the state with the lowest per enrollee Medicare spending, at $8,238 per enrollee (25% below the national average per enrollee).

·      Medicaid: The recent trends in per enrollee spending were driven by the Medicaid coverage expansion, which increased the share of relatively less expensive enrollees relative to the previous Medicaid beneficiary population mix in expansion states. Total Medicaid spending increased 12.3% from 2013 to 2014 for states that expanded Medicaid, compared with 6.2% for states that did not expand Medicaid. However, on a per enrollee basis Medicaid spending declined considerably for the expansion states (-5.1%) in 2014, because of the enrollment of relatively less expensive enrollees, whereas per enrollee Medicaid spending in the non-expansion states increased 5.1%. 

·      Private Health Insurance: Per enrollee private health insurance spending was $4,551 in 2014, an average annual increase of 3.3% since 2009 ($3,872). Total private health insurance spending grew more rapidly in states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility by 2014 than in states that did expand eligibility, at rates of 6.8% and 4.6%, respectively.

OIG finds savings increase from Senior Medicare Patrols

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:18
06/14/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – Senior Medicare Patrol projects achieved $163,904 in cost avoidance on behalf of Medicare and Medicaid in 2016, up from $21,533 in 2015, according to a study from the Office of Inspector General.

Savings to beneficiaries and others totaled $53,559, up from $35,059, the OIG says.

In 2016, 53 projects had a total of 6,126 active team members who conducted a total of 26,220 group outreach and education events, reaching an estimated 1.5 million people. The projects also had 195,386 individual interactions with, or on behalf of, a beneficiary, according to the OIG.

“We note that the projects may not be receiving full credit for recoveries, savings, and cost avoidance attributable to their work,” the report states. “It is not always possible to track referrals to Medicare contractors or law enforcement from beneficiaries who have learned to detect fraud, waste, and abuse from the projects. In addition, the projects are unable to track the potentially substantial savings derived from a sentinel effect, whereby Medicare beneficiaries' scrutiny of their bills reduces fraud and errors.”

Senior Medicare Patrol projects receive grants from the Administration for Community Living to recruit and train retired professionals and other senior citizens to recognize and report instances or patterns of healthcare fraud. The OIG has collected performance data on the projects since 1997.

Stakeholders rack up ‘impressive’ list of co-signers for bid relief letter

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 08:31
06/13/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – The HME industry has met its goal of at least 150 co-signers for a letter calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to provide relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

Thanks to a few late additions, stakeholders were able to secure 154 co-signers for the letter, spearheaded by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

“This is an impressive number considering only two weeks were given to gain supporters and much of that time was when Congress was out of session,” VGM stated in a bulletin to members.

AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan had called on stakeholders to secure at least 150 co-signers for the letter at the Washington Legislative Conference on May 24-25. The letter remained open through June 9.

The letter asks Price, along with CMS Administrator Seema Verma, to consider more long-term fixes to the competitive bidding program; to permanently protect accessories for complex wheelchairs from bid-related reimbursement cuts; and to reverse a recent “double dip” cut to oxygen concentrators.

A similar letter spearheaded by the House Small Business Committee and Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Miss., a committee member, has received support from four other members. That letter will remain open until this Friday, June 16.

Both letters will be sent to Price and Verma, sending a clear message that they need to make DME policy reform a priority, stakeholders say.

VGM gave a shout-out to stakeholders in Alabama, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, Vermont, Wyoming and Rhode Island, who were able to get all of their representatives to sign on to the Rodgers letter. Stakeholders in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts were able to secure all but one or two of their representatives.

Caught on tape: Criticism of bid program mixed in with criticism of Obamacare

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:36
Also, Secretary Price finally goes on record about access issues06/09/2017Liz Beaulieu

WASHINGTON – When HHS Secretary Tom Price took to Twitter last week to post several videos of small business owners speaking on the negative impact of Obamacare, one in particular caught the eye of social media-savvy HME providers.

Dudley Hoskins Bostic, owner of Hoskins Drug Store in Clinton, Tenn., said, “There is an access issue. It’s not available—it is actually not available to the residents and the citizens of Tennessee. And it’s narrowing as we speak.”

The video, only a few seconds long, had providers wondering whether Bostic was talking about Obamacare—or Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

“My daughter just pulled it up and my mouth fell open,” said Bostic, who hadn’t seen the video until provider Tyler Riddle called her to tell her it was on Twitter. “I know that (Price) is an advocate for us, and I’ve always liked him, even more now, since I’ve met him. He’s such a smart man. But it was DME bidding and rates that I was talking about. They must have chopped that out.”

Bostic says she was part of a recent roundtable discussion in Tennessee hosted by Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma. While she was fully aware that the focus of the meeting was the Affordable Care Act, she went off script because it’s competitive bidding that has had the most significant impact on her 87-year-old business.

For Hoskins Drug, one of the biggest impacts of the program has been how it limits the ability of the company, which was awarded contracts for several but not all items, to fully take care of beneficiaries.

“They don’t want multiple providers in and out of their homes—it’s supposed to be a calming time for them, not a revolving door,” she said. “They need everything. I can do beds and support surfaces, but I can’t do oxygen. What goes with oxygen, but a bed? It makes no good sense.”

More ominously, Bostic notes that with 40% of HME companies choosing to close their doors, competitive bidding is wreaking havoc on small businesses—and small town America.

“Every community that is thriving has a corner store and a pharmacy,” she said.

During the roundtable discussion that preceded the video taping, Bostic says she told Price and Verma that Hoskins Drug’s two priorities are getting pharmacists recognized as healthcare providers and securing the reimbursement that goes along with that; and repealing and replacing the competitive bidding program.

“He pointed his finger at me and said, ‘Yes ma’am,’” she said.

And therein lies the rub for providers like Riddle. While providers have been assured repeatedly in private that Price and Verma are working on competitive bidding reform, they have yet to acknowledge on the record, since taking office, that there are issues with the program.

That acknowledgement came on June 8, however, when, during a hearing on the fiscal 2018 budget by the Senate Finance Committee, Price said HHS is “looking very seriously” at the access issues created by the bid program, especially in rural areas, according to news reports.

In what turned out to be a big week for DME, providers are latching on to Bostic’s video and this acknowledgement.

“(Bid reform) is very much on (HHS’s) radar,” agreed Riddle, vice president of MRS Homecare in Tifton, Ga. “But what that doesn’t do is motivate a provider that’s barely hanging on. What that doesn’t do is put CMS on public notice. What that doesn’t do is say to third-party payers that they’re applying rates based on a flawed program. We get it; it’s on their radar. But a public statement that says, ‘This program is screwed up,’ is more beneficial.”

When Price’s acknowledgement began circulating on Twitter on Friday, provider Gary Sheehan tweeted: “This is all I wanted, public acknowledgement of serious issues. My sincerest thanks @SecPriceMD—now let’s get about a fix!”

Ahead of expansion, PA process runs smoothly

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:34
Providers report reasonable turnaround times, decent affirmation rates06/09/2017Liz Beaulieu

WASHINGTON – CMS plans to expand a prior authorization process for two complex rehab codes nationwide on July 17 and the agency, for the most part, has the blessing of industry stakeholders.

CMS flipped the switch on a PA process for K0856 and K0861 in Illinois, West Virginia, Missouri and New York in March.

“From what I’m hearing from our members, it’s going smoothly,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “From the start, we’ve been supportive of prior authorizations, as long as the process goes smoothly.”

It helps, stakeholders say, that CMS already has a PA process in place for standard power wheelchairs as part of a demonstration project that’s now running in 19 states. The agency worked with stakeholders early on to tweak the process to make it more manageable for providers.

Providers like Chuck Spiedel report that their PA requests for K0856 and K0861 are getting affirmed or non-affirmed within two weeks, a turnaround time they’re pleased with.

“That’s reasonable,” said Spiedel, the rehab manager for Personal Mobility in Springfield, Ill. “Even managed care takes at least that amount of time.”

Providers like Doug Westerdahl also report that the majority of their PA requests for K0856 and K0861 are getting affirmed. Overall, his company’s affirmation rate is 49%, but when he weeds out the requests for standard power wheelchairs that are part of the demo, it’s probably higher than that, he says.

“My guess is the approval rate for the complex rehab codes is 60% to 65% on the first try,” said Westerdahl, president and CEO of Monroe Wheelchair in Rochester, N.Y.

Even when their requests are non-affirmed, providers are typically able to get them affirmed with subsequent requests, they say.

“The non-affirmations are usually due to transmission issues, not documentation issues,” Spiedel said. “Like something got cut off in the fax and we need to resubmit.”

Providers do worry, however, that when CMS expands the PA process nationwide, it may strain the process.

“I’m very worried about that,” Westerdahl said. “Right now, if we don’t get something back in 10 business days, we can call and find out if we’ve been approved or denied. If they tell us we’re approved, we don’t wait for the mail; we go ahead and order the chair.”

Weesie Walker, who like Clayback heads up an organization representing complex rehab providers, says she hasn’t heard anything negative about the PA process.

“I think, for the most part, providers are in favor of it,” said Walker, executive director of NRRTS.

 

Cyber attacks? Providers say they’re armed

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:31
06/09/2017Theresa Flaherty

YARMOUTH, Maine – A recent ransomware attack on healthcare organizations in more than a dozen countries served as reminder to HME providers of the importance of investing in cyber security.

Unlike a typical computer attack, in which hackers steal data, a ransomware attack involves using malicious software to encrypt documents, images and other files, essentially holding them hostage until the victim pays to have them unlocked.

“I like to think we’ve been vigilant all along,” said Chris Rice, CEO of Diamond Respiratory in Riverside, Calif. “We’re pretty adamant here about things that get plugged into computers and anything else we can do with regard to keeping anything malicious out.”

While the ransomware attack in May affected mainly large healthcare systems, everyone—big or small—is at risk, warn experts.

“The only value of the data is to the owner—they go after it because they know it’s crucial to run your business,” said Rob Duryea, president, VGM Forbin. “The thing about an HME, is they are a soft target, especially when they are smaller. But the hackers are not going to say, give me $1 million. They are going to make it affordable so they can get the money.”

Provider Glenn Steinke says he is one of those “small fish”—it seems like a hacker wouldn’t bother wasting time extorting money from him.

“Still, we received updates after the ransomware attack from our billing vendor reminding us of the precautions we need to take and we are already taking all of them,” said Steinke, owner of Airway Medical in Bishop, Calif.

Precautions include ensuring you have adequate antivirus protection, cautioning employees not to open attachments if they aren’t sure of the source, and conducting regular backups of data.

“I do daily backups to a cloud-based system and then also weekly backups to a hard disk,” said Steinke. “It’s one way to ensure you maybe don’t have to buy everything back from someone.”

Provider Joseph LaPorta says his company has invested “greatly” in cyber security over the past year.

“We’re updating security patches and using what they call protected methods, and we need to update our policies to add procedures to provide additional levels of security,” said LaPorta, CEO of Mount Laurel, N.J.-based Persante Health Care.“It’s an ongoing effort because the schemes and tactics continue to change.”

Bricks-and-mortar sleep provider takes sales online

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:29
Advanced Sleep Medicine Services launches e-commerce store, accepts both cash and insurance06/09/2017Theresa Flaherty

ENCINO, Calif. – Getting insurers to pay for needed CPAP supplies has become such a hassle that many patients are opting to pay cash instead, says provider Kermit Newman.

“It’s been increasingly difficult for patients to get resupplies paid through insurance,” said Newman, CEO of Advanced Sleep Medicine Services. “We are seeing more and more saying they would rather pay cash than bother with the insurance.”

That’s why Advanced Sleep recently added an e-commerce store to its website, www.sleepdr.com.

While many patients opt to pay cash, Advanced Sleep Medicine Services also accepts insurance for covered items, a key difference that sets it apart from other online sellers. Its website clearly states the need for a prescription for insurance and outlines the difference between pricing for cash and insurance transactions.

“We use the cart system and it’s very easy to use,” said Elizabeth Bilbo, customer service manager. “If there’s anything that needs follow up, they can do it right away with our customer service department via email or phone.”

Advanced Sleep Medicine Services has more than 20 years of experience in the sleep business, and it has provided education and information through its website for 10 years.

“Our blog and our website have been around a long time,” said Newman. “We have a lot of patients who have come to us through our blog who are just looking for general information.”

Newman says that, in addition to name recognition, customers prefer the one-stop, specialized shop that Advanced Sleep Medicine Services offers.

“People who are looking for a CPAP device or resupplies, that’s what they need, that’s what they are looking for,” he said. “It’s not important to them if a site is also selling wheelchairs.”

In brief: Industry issues last call to action, OIG finds no access issues

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:21
06/09/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders spent Friday pushing to get as many signatures as possible on a letter asking HHS Secretary Tom Price to make significant changes to HME policy.

The goal is at least 150: at press time, there were 112.

The letter is spearheaded by Rep. Cathy McMorriss Rogers, R-Wash., and five other representatives.

The uptick in commitments comes after AAHomecare’s Washington Legislative Conference, May 26-27.

Throughout the day on Friday, AAHomecare and HME providers took to Twitter to post updates and rally the troops, so to speak.

“Make the call or email, let’s make the final push for signatures,” the association tweeted.

VGM reports that its VGM Action Center has been used to send more than 1,000 letters to members of Congress in the past two weeks, urging them to sign the letter.

OIG: Bid program did not impede access

WASHINGTON – Most Medicare beneficiaries continued to have access to CPAP/RAD devices after Round 2 of the competitive bidding program began, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

For CPAP/RAD supplies, however, Medicare payments stopped for 46% of beneficiaries in Round 2 CBAs, compared to 33% in non-bid areas.

“The decline may or may not indicate disruptions in receiving needed supplies,” the OIG stated. “For example, the decline may indicate that the program reduced the provision of unnecessary supplies, as CMS determined to be the case with Round 1 of the program.”

The OIG conducted the study in response to a 2014 letter in which members of Congress expressed concerns about the program’s impact on access to DME.

The OIG says its findings are consistent with CMS’s conclusion that the bidding program is not impeding access to CPAP/RAD devices.

Round 2 of competitive bidding kicked off July 1, 2013.

Brightree buys Conduit Technology

‘The next logical area in need of automation is the intake process,’ says CEO Matt Mellott

ATLANTA – Brightree has acquired Conduit Technology, a provider of documentation and workflow solutions.

Conduit Technology’s flagship product, Conduit Office, is the engine behind Brightree’s MyForms.

“Historically, HMEs have used automation tools in their back-end operations to achieve greater operational efficiencies, typically around the billing process,” said Matt Mellott, president and CEO of Brightree. “The next logical area in need of automation is the intake process, and MyForms will play a significant role in Brightree delivering a robust and comprehensive intake solution.”

The acquisition will allow Brightree to enhance MyForms to give HME providers greater access to workflow and automation technology to eliminate paper forms, reduce claim denials, improve audit outcomes and create process integrity, especially in the order intake process.

Brightree introduced providers to MyForms in 2014, when it formed a strategic partnership with Conduit Technology. Now more than 200 providers with nearly 7,000 users leverage the solution to cut order-processing times, accelerate the time to submit claims, and reduce errors during order creation and confirmation, the company says.

“MyForms has reshaped the intake process for many of our customers,” said Bobby Shoshal, COO of Brightree.

Using MyForms, providers can create custom forms based on provider- and payer-specific business rules. Once forms are created, documents are automatically populated with patient and order data from the Brightree system.

Terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

Two large providers in Iowa merge

CONRAD, Iowa – NuCara Pharmacy & Home Medical, headquartered here, has acquired Hammer Medical Supply, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, according to the Times Republican. Per the deal, Hammer Medical Supply will continue operating its nine locations under its own name. Three of the four owners of Hammer Medical Supply—Rick Johnson, Kurt Johnson and Mark Johnson—will retire, and the remaining owner, Terry Flatt, will stay on as a stockholder and Hammer’s CEO. “The Johnsons were ready to retire, and we didn’t want the company to dissolve,” Flatt told the newspaper. Together, NuCara and Hammer Medical Supply now have more than 30 locations in five states and employ more than 400 people. NuCara, which stated as a small pharmacy, entered the HME and supply industry in 1981.

Inogen nails down Cleveland facility

GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen has secured an additional facility in the Cleveland area to help grow its direct-to-consumer business, it announced June 2. The facility will allow the company to recruit employees from the Northeast to grow its sales force for that business, the company says. “We are planning on adding additional headcount of approximately 240 people in the Cleveland area location over the next three years,” said Scott Wilkinson, president and CEO. “We look forward to having a sales and service support location in the Eastern time zone, which we think will allow us to better serve our customers.” As of Dec. 31, 2016, Inogen’s sales force for the direct-to-consumer business comprised 177 sales representatives located in the company’s Goleta, Calif., and Richardson, Texas, facilities. The Cleveland area facility will also include customer service and support functions. Inogen has secured tax benefits from state and local governments of up to $1.9 million over the next three years based on forecasted headcount additions and tenant improvement costs for the facility.

Golden beefs up exec team

OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies has made three key hires to lead growth for the company, including two newly created positions. Cy Corgan will serve as vice president of national accounts. Corgan has more than 25 years of experience in HME, and most recently served as national sales manager with EZ-Access. Jack Byrne will serve as CFO. He previously served as CFO at EXTOL, a privately owned software company, in Pottsville, Pa. Chris Carroll will serve as director of marketing. Caroll has more than 20 years of experience in public relations and marketing, most recently as the director of annual giving & alumni relations at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton.

Invacare proposes $100M raise

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare intends to offer $100 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2022 in a private offering to qualified institutional buyers, the company announced June 7. In connection with the offering, Invacare expects to grant the initial purchaser an option to purchase up to an additional $15 million aggregate principal amount of notes that will be delivered within a 13-day period beginning on the date the company first issues the notes. Final terms of the notes, including the initial conversion price, interest rate and certain other terms of the notes, will be determined at the time of pricing. The notes will bear interest semi-annually and will mature on June 1, 2022, unless repurchased or converted. Invacare intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to pay the cost of the convertible note hedge transaction. It also intends to use any remaining net proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes, which may include funding portions of its ongoing turnaround.

Medtrade offers discount for early registration

ATLANTA – Early registration for Medtrade opens Monday, June 12. This year’s show takes place Oct. 23-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center. In May, show organizers announced that they were shortening the show from four days to three, with extended hours for the show floor. Registering early saves up to $75 on the expo and more than $200 on the conference, according to a press release. “Demand for HME will continue to skyrocket, and Medtrade can help providers by giving them the tools they need,” said Kevin Gaffney, show director. “The motivation, inspiration, and product ideas from Medtrade can truly set the stage for future success.” Register here.

Supply company owner accused of $1M in Medicaid fraud

NEW YORK – The owner of Monack Medical Supply has been indicted on charges of Medicaid fraud, according to a press release from the New York Attorney General’s Office. Kester Atumonyogo allegedly billed Medicaid and Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care organization, $1 million for an expensive nutritional formula while supplying patients with a lower-priced formula. According to the indictment, Atumonyogo used a fraudulent social security number to enroll Monack Medical Supply in the Medicaid program, and has a history of identity and welfare fraud. “New Yorkers pay into Medicaid to meet the healthcare needs of the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.“They deserve to know their dollars are going to help people, not profit unscrupulous business owners.” If convicted, Atumonyogo could face four to 25 years in prison.

VGM’s longtime COO retires

WATERLOO, Iowa – Jim Phillips, president and COO of the VGM Group, has retired, VGM announced June 1. Phillips has spent 25 years at the company, the last nine as COO. He was appointed president in January of 2016. “Jim has been a big part of VGM, and he will be greatly missed,” said Mike Mallaro, VGM’s CEO. “Jim remains a VGM Group board member, valued adviser and friend to so many of us in the VGM extended family.” Phillips joined VGM in 1991, when the company’s founder, the late Van G. Miller, recruited him to start an equipment leasing division. Phillips grew the division, known as VGM Financial Services, from one associate to more than 40 associates managing financing for the home health care and golf industries. VGM will not replace Phillips “at this time,” the company stated in an email to HME News. “Responsibilities previously held by the COO will be distributed among members of VGM’s senior leadership team,” it stated.

Hospital wholesaler buys DME company

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. – Professional Health Solutions, a DME company based here, has been acquired by ASP Global, a wholesaler of hospice medical supplies. Professional Health’s main business is fulfilling prescriptions for disposable wound care dressings direct to patient homes. “Adding Professional Health Solutions to the ASP Global family of companies expands our distribution to ‘the last mile’—the patient,” said Lorne Tritt, CEO of ASP Global. “It advances our mission of supporting the full continuum of care: hospitals, IDNs, home health, hospice and group practices.” Professional Health execs Pennie Wicks-Pelfrey and Jannetta Miller-Barger are staying on to run the company within ASP Global.

Diplomat Specialty Infusion expands into parenteral nutrition

URBANDALE, Iowa – Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group, a home infusion pharmacy, has added a sterile compounding environment to its Iowa location, paving the way for it to provide parenteral nutrition therapies. Diplomat’s location in Urbandale now features an ISO 7 cleanroom, the standard needed to compound IV nutrition formulations. A cleanroom is a controlled environment with a low level of pollutants. ThriveRx, the nutrition division, focuses on home parenteral and enteral nutrition. Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group is a brand of Diplomat Pharmacy, a large independent provider of specialty pharmacy services in all 50 states.

United Spinal names award winners

NEW YORK – United Spinal Association will host a Congressional Awards Reception on June 13 as part of its Roll on Capitol Hill to recognize members of Congress for their outstanding service to people with disabilities and veterans. The association will recognize Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with its James J. Peters Disability Rights Champion Award; Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., with its VetsFirst Congressional Bronze Star Award; and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., with its Junius A. Kellogg Congressional Outstanding Leadership Award. United Spinal will also honor disability advocates who have shown leadership and dedication to, and success in, state and/or federal policy issues impacting the broader disability community. This year, Frances M. Ozur Cole, the president of United Spinal's New Mexico Chapter, will receive the 2017 Finn Bullers Advocate of the Year Award. Jenn Wolff, formerly United Spinal's advocacy alliance manager, will receive the 2017 Grassroots Advocacy Award. Roll on Capitol Hill, in its sixth year, takes place June 11-14.

Legislation seeks to ease air travel for disabled passengers

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., has introduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act to protect the rights of disabled passengers and the close service gaps they face. More than 30,000 airplane passengers last year filed disability-related complaints. “To keep America’s promise of full equality for all, we must work to break down the barriers that individuals with disabilities and our veterans face when they travel,” said Baldwin in a press release. “Equal access to air travel ensures individuals with disabilities are able to participate in today’s economy and enjoy their travel opportunities.” Joining Baldwin on the bill: Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Conn., Tammy Duckworth, Ill., Maggie Hassan, N.H., and Ed Markey, Mass.

Short takes: BOC, Shield Healthcare, Sunrise Medical

The Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) is now accepting nominations for its board of directors. Directors serve four-year terms and must participate in four board meetings annually. For more information, or to obtain a nomination form, go to bocusa.org/boc-board-directors…Shield Healthcare is pushing its OstomyLife program nationwide as part of its renewed commitment toMedicare ostomy patients. …Sunrise Medical celebrated World Environment Day June 5. The manufacturer is committed to using sustainable practices in its facilities, embracing processes to conserve natural resources, avoiding pollution and reusing materials and recycling.

 

OIG: Bid program did not impede access

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 11:34
06/09/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – Most Medicare beneficiaries continued to have access to CPAP/RAD devices after Round 2 of the competitive bidding program began, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

For CPAP/RAD supplies, however, Medicare payments stopped for 46% of beneficiaries in Round 2 CBAs, compared to 33% in non-bid areas.

“The decline may or may not indicate disruptions in receiving needed supplies,” the OIG stated. “For example, the decline may indicate that the program reduced the provision of unnecessary supplies, as CMS determined to be the case with Round 1 of the program.”

The OIG conducted the study in response to a 2014 letter in which members of Congress expressed concerns about the program’s impact on access to DME.

The OIG says its findings are consistent with CMS’s conclusion that the bidding program is not impeding access to CPAP/RAD devices.

Round 2 of competitive bidding kicked off July 1, 2013.

Industry issues last call to action for sign-on letter

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 09:52
06/08/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – Eighty-four members of Congress and counting have signed a letter asking HHS Secretary Tom Price to make significant changes to HME policy.

Time is running out, however: The goal is at least 150, and the deadline is Friday, June 9.

AAHomecare reports another 20 members have sought additional information on the letter, which is spearheaded by Rep. Cathy McMorriss Rogers, R-Wash., and five other representatives.

The uptick in commitments comes after AAHomecare’s Washington Legislative Conference, May 26-27.

AAHomecare, VGM and state associations are rallying their members to contact their representatives and urge them to sign the letter.

“If you haven’t yet contacted your representative in the House on this issue, please do so as soon as possible to help us finish with a strong showing on the letter,” said AAHomecare in its weekly bulletin on Wednesday.

VGM reports that its VGM Action Center has been used to send more than 1,000 letters to members of Congress in the past two weeks, urging them to sign the letter.

Brightree buys Conduit Technology

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 09:33
‘The next logical area in need of automation is the intake process,’ says CEO Matt Mellott06/06/2017HME News Staff

ATLANTA – Brightree has acquired Conduit Technology, a provider of documentation and workflow solutions.

Conduit Technology’s flagship product, Conduit Office, is the engine behind Brightree’s MyForms.

“Historically, HMEs have used automation tools in their back-end operations to achieve greater operational efficiencies, typically around the billing process,” said Matt Mellott, president and CEO of Brightree. “The next logical area in need of automation is the intake process, and MyForms will play a significant role in Brightree delivering a robust and comprehensive intake solution.”

The acquisition will allow Brightree to enhance MyForms to give HME providers greater access to workflow and automation technology to eliminate paper forms, reduce claim denials, improve audit outcomes and create process integrity, especially in the order intake process.

Brightree introduced providers to MyForms in 2014, when it formed a strategic partnership with Conduit Technology. Now more than 200 providers with nearly 7,000 users leverage the solution to cut order-processing times, accelerate the time to submit claims, and reduce errors during order creation and confirmation, the company says.

“MyForms has reshaped the intake process for many of our customers,” said Bobby Shoshal, COO of Brightree.

Using MyForms, providers can create custom forms based on provider- and payer-specific business rules. Once forms are created, documents are automatically populated with patient and order data from the Brightree system.

Terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

CareCentrix bends cost curve

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:07
Partnership with Performant will decrease waste, create higher-performing networks, company says06/02/2017Liz Beaulieu

HARTFORD, Conn. – HME providers may view CareCentrix’s recently announced partnership with Peformant as just another layer of scrutiny, but a company official says it will go a long way toward moving more care into the home.

CareCentrix announced in late May that it will work with Performant, Medicare’s national RAC for DME, home health and hospice, to deploy specialized analytics and algorithms to better identify and decrease waste and fraud.

“The intent here is not for this to be a negative experience,” said Stephen Wogen, the chief growth officer at CareCentrix. “I’m in a lot of conversations with a lot of payers and health systems, and DME is misunderstood. I think the industry is under siege because of historical bad practices, and a lot of that has been cleaned up, but it still needs to overcome a bad rap. We at CareCentrix believe the future of health care is in the home. But for that to be leveraged, home care needs to be accountable and reliable, and providers need to be trusted.”

It’s hard to ignore DME and home health as high-risk areas for waste and fraud, Wogen says. Not when CMS says they represent more than $11.4 billion in improper payments each year for Medicare alone.

CareCentrix already has analytics and compliance and special investigative teams in place to detect waste and fraud in its 10,000 provider locations. But the partnership allows the company to combine its existing efforts with Performant’s much larger data set, Wogen says.

“We weed out players where we’re seeing patterns of fraud, so we believe we have high-performing networks,” he said. “But we believe we can have even higher performing networks.”

The partnership also allows CareCentrix to broaden its existing efforts across post-acute care, Wogen says.

“We can expand beyond the traditional silos of looking at just DME and looking just at home health, and look across settings,” he said. “We can look at post-acute care in its totality.”

Wogen says one byproduct of the partnership with Performant and their combined data crunching may be more prospective vs. retrospective controls, something that an HME industry that’s lobbying for more widespread prior authorizations would no doubt welcome.

“That could simplify how we all work,” he said. “We have a prior authorization process in place for a lot of our services today, but what if you were able to examine the process and take away some learnings and ascertain that automatic authorizations in some areas could streamline the process?”

While CareCentrix is a firm believer in home care, it needs to toe the fine line between determining what’s necessary and what’s not, and the partnership with Performant better equips the company to do that heavy lifting.

“A CPAP mask can keep a patient out of the ER and it can keep comorbidities under control, but does that mean a patient needs five masks a year—not necessarily,” he said. “Providers need to do everything they can to keep a patient compliant; at the same time, supplies continue to increase in cost. By getting the bad players out, it allows DME to be used for what it’s supposed to be used for. That’s how you bend the cost curve.”

Soleo Health adds voice to home infusion fix

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:03
06/02/2017Theresa Flaherty

MCKINNEY, Texas – Home infusion provider Soleo Health says it remains committed to taking care of patients while it waits for Congress to fix a “payment gap,” but it can’t wait four years.

“There’s no question there’s been a big financial impact,” said Drew Walk, CEO of Soleo Health, which recently released a white paper detailing the impact on patients of changes to the benefit in the 21st Century Cures Act. “We’ve had to make changes to our cost structure.”

Per a provision in the Cures Act, Medicare pays for Part B infusion drugs under an average sales price model, a move that reduces payments so drastically that, essentially, they no longer cover services. Another provision in the act provides payments for these services, but not until 2021.

While the Cures Act worsens an existing problem—stakeholders have spoken to CMS for many years about the need to pay for not only home infusion drugs but also services—Walk says it also provides opportunity.

“The good thing about the Cures Act is it creates the mechanism for CMS to create a reimbursement for services,” he said. “The problem is they have until 2021.”

Stakeholders have wasted no time in pushing back against the Cures Act. Led by the National Home Infusion Association, they have sent a letter to lawmakers, urging them to take quick action and fix the payment gap; and led by Option Care, they have launched the Keep My Infusion Care at Home coalition, which Soleo Health recently joined.

“There are a number of us in the infusion business that are trying to work together to make sure the message is clear,” said Walk, who was on Capitol Hill last week lobbying for a fix. “We are seeing positive signs from Congress. I think they’ll make the right decision.”

 

Seat elevation: Users rally around improved technology

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:58
Stakeholders say they’re committed to working with Medicare to get it covered06/02/2017Liz Beaulieu

WASHINGTON – There was important work to do to protect accessories during the recent National CRT Conference, but the talk of the town may have been seat elevation technology.

As part of an industry update at the conference, company officials from Pride Mobility Products and Permobil discussed their recent advancements in seat elevation technology, to the applause of wheelchair users in the room.

“One of the reasons this technology resonates so much with users is they can see the direct impact of it,” said John Goetz, director of government affairs for Permobil, in an interview following the event. “They see it and they think, ‘If I had that, think of all the things I could do on my own.’”

While industry stakeholders have done yeoman’s work to get third-party payers and Medicaid programs to cover seat elevation technology on a case-by-case basis, there’s still no Medicare coverage. And therein lies the rub for a large population of users who are on Medicare, or whose insurer mirrors the federal program’s coverage.

Stakeholders are having an “ongoing conversation” with CMS about seat elevation technology, but to date, the agency has stated the technology doesn’t meet the definition of DME because it’s not medically necessary.

“It’s going to take a change in philosophy (at the agency),” said Julie Piriano, vice president of clinical education and rehab industry affairs, and the compliance officer for Pride Mobility Products. “We’re looking for them to view seat elevation like power seat options or tilt and recline—an accessory that’s medically necessary and serves a medical purpose. These efforts are going to continue.”

It’s important to remember, stakeholders say, that while the excitement level around seat elevation technology is the highest it has ever been, the wheels at CMS move slowly. But stakeholders are in it for the long haul.

“We fully recognize that this is going to take time,” Piriano said. “When ultra-light wheelchairs came out, there was no code and it wasn’t covered. No one could see why someone would need a chair with an adjustable axle and that was made of lighter weight materials. It took time and effort for that to be recognized differently. Same for powered tilt.”

Because it will take time, stakeholders acknowledge they need to do a better job multi-tasking: They need to keep the pressure on CMS about seat elevation technology while they, at the same time, lobby the agency and Congress on more urgent matters, like permanently protecting accessories for complex power wheelchairs from competitive bidding related pricing.

“We’re always going to be fighting some battle,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, which hosted the conference with NRRTS. “So we have to make sure nothing gets lost. While we’re fighting on fronts A and B, we can’t let C get lost.”

 

 

‘You’ve got to build muscle if you are going into a fight,’ says George Kucka

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:55
Wise words from winner of AAHomecare/Mal Mixon Legislative Advocate Award06/02/2017Theresa Flaherty

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. – Provider George Kucka launched his first HME company in 1985. By 1990 or so, it was obvious that if he wanted to depend on the entitlement program as a source of revenue he would have to stay on top of things. So he got active in his state association, and started attending Medtrade and congressional fly-ins.

Kucka, president of Fairmeadows Home Health Center in Schererville, Ind., received this year’s AAHomecare/Mal Mixon Legislative Advocate Award during the association’s recent Washington Legislative Conference. HME News spoke with Kucka about why he continues to press for change and what’s wrong with Washington, D.C., these days.

HME News: What made you start getting involved in advocating for the HME industry?

George Kucka: I’ve probably put more time into lobbying and advocating than I should have but if I hadn’t been doing that, I probably wouldn’t be in business. I wouldn’t have been ahead of the curve and wouldn’t be able to anticipate a lot of the things I have been able to anticipate. That’s why I advocate for people to get involved in associations.

HME: Are you surprised that some providers don’t see the value in associations? Is it because money is tight?

Kucka: It does amaze me that people don’t realize the importance of networking and getting involved not only with their association, but also networking with other providers and other disciplines to find out what’s going on. As to the financial aspect, people in bad times feel that they have to cut fat, so they cut back on things like association membership. My response to that is: That’s not fat; that’s muscle. You’ve got to build muscle if you are going into a fight.

HME: How do you stay motivated year after year?

Kucka: It’s a matter of survival. I liken it to me as a guy clinging to a life preserver. To me, this advocacy is that life preserver. I hear it: People are tired. I had new people with me on the Hill and I told them, nothing happens overnight. It’s a matter of building relationships. Keep telling your story until somebody listens. The state of the industry right now is such that, people might start to blink if we don’t make dramatic changes.

HME: How is the political climate different than when you first started going to Capitol Hill?

Kucka: I used to love to go to Washington, D.C.—there was this huge sense of history and sense of power. Now that power has become too all encompassing. There are 535 people running a country of 330 million people. There are senators and representatives that have been around way too long and they’ve created an elite group. When they are exempted from things that they are passing that we have to subscribe to, like healthcare coverage, there’s something wrong.

In brief: Bill tries to force CMS’s hand on O&P certification, HME platform QMES secures financing

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:53
06/02/2017HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., have once again introduced a bill that calls on CMS to enforce a law that O&P providers be certified to receive payments under Medicare.

Thompson and Thompson introduced H.R. 2599, the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2017, last week. They have introduced similar bills in previous sessions of Congress.

“Medicare beneficiaries in need of prosthetic and orthotic services deserve to know they’re getting the very best care,” said Mike Thompson in a press release. “Keeping fraudulent providers out of Medicare will ensure patients get the treatment they deserve, and has the added benefit of reducing costs.”

The Benefits Improvement and Protection Act (BIPA), which was signed into law back in 2000, requires certification for O&P providers. CMS has failed to enforce the provision, however, resulting in an uptick in fraudulent payments to unlicensed providers, Thompson and Thompson say.

The bill would also link eligibility for payment to the qualification of the providers and the complexity of the device; establish orthotists and prosthetists as Medicare providers, distinguishing them from DME providers; and clarify that notes taken by orthotists and prosthetists should be part of the patient’s medical record.

Congress adjourned late last year without passing the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2015.

QMES secures more financing

NEW YORK – HME platform company QMES has obtained a second round of financing from CIT Group.

QMES, a DME provider in the Northeast, will use the $65 million secured senior credit facility to refinance legacy debt and support growth, according to a press release.

“QMES’s active M&A growth strategy has led to the successful completion and integration of more than 15 acquisitions and they currently serve over 100,000 patients annually,” said William Douglass, managing director and group head of CIT’s Healthcare Finance business. “As a result, the firm has grown to become the largest DME provider in the Northeast.”

QMES is a portfolio company of Quadrant Management, a New York-based private equity and restructuring firm that bought Landauer Metropolitan in 2013. An affiliate of Quadrant in May bought Braden Partners—better known as Pacific Pulmonary Services—and Associated Healthcare Systems from Teijin Limited.

QMES received a $50 million senior secured credit facility from CIT in 2014.

“Overall, the population is aging and we’re seeing growing rates of chronic diseases,” said Luke McGee, CEO of QMES in the release. “As a result, there’s a need for the type of equipment we distribute (i.e. CPAP machines, wheelchairs, ventilation equipment, etc.). CIT’s deep industry expertise and experience in financing middle market health care firms makes them a perfect financing partner for us and we’re excited to continue to build the business with them.”

Mediware broadens reach in alternate care market

LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems has finalized an agreement to buy Kinnser Software, a provider of software solutions to 4,000 home health, hospice and private duty home care professionals, the company announced May 30.

The acquisition allows Mediware to expand its portfolio in the home health and hospice space, creating an integrated, high-growth software provider for the alternate care market, according to a press release.

“Kinnser’s intuitive platform provides Mediware with additional depth, expertise and capabilities to strengthen our platform in the home health and hospice space,” said Thomas Mann, CEO of Mediware, in the release. “This transaction marks our next step as we continue to expand our offering as the leading, integrated supplier of software solutions for alternate care providers.”

Mediware is purchasing Kinnser from Insight Venture Partners, a global private equity and venture capital firm based in New York City. Insight invests in growth-stage technology, software and Internet businesses.

TPG, which backed the deal, bought Mediware earlier this year.

“As experienced investors in software and healthcare, we have witnessed the role that innovation can play in advancing the industry’s infrastructure,” said Nehal Raj and Jeff Rhodes, partners at TPG, in the release. “Alternate care providers are continuing to see growth in patient volumes and are relying on technology as a low-cost and efficient management solution. We partnered with Mediware because we saw a compelling opportunity to invest in a high-quality software provider that will continue to benefit from these trends. Kinnser fits well within this vision, and broadens our end-market breadth within alternate care settings.”

Mediware has made a string of acquisitions in the past few years, including Definitive Homecare Solutions and its CPR+ platform; Fastrack; and CareCentric’s software solutions for the homecare market, including MestaMed.

Philips buys maker of respiratory vest

AMSTERDAM – Royal Philips has signed an agreement to acquire Respiratory Technologies, the maker of an airway clearance solution for patients with chronic respiratory conditions, like COPD and cystic fibrosis. Philips says the expansion of its respiratory care portfolio with RespirTech’s vest will further strengthen its solutions to manage care in the hospital and at home. “As healthcare continues to transform to a value-based care model, Philips is strengthening its respiratory care portfolio to enable its home care and hospital partners to better serve the care network,” the company stated in a press release. RespirTech’s portfolio also includes a robust clinical support program for managing respiratory patients in the home. The St. Paul, Minn.-based company was founded in 2004 and employs about 210 employees. Philips expects to complete the deal, announced May 22, in the coming months. It will not disclose financial details.

People news: Sunrise Medical, VGM, Permobil, Drive

FRESNO, Calif. – Thomas Rossnagel has resigned as president and CEO of Sunrise Medical, the manufacturer announced today.

Johan Ek, chairman of the board of directors, has taken over as acting CEO, according to a press release.

“After 20 years of service at Sunrise Medical, I would like to spend more time with my family,” said Rossnagel, who held the role since 2009. “For that reason, I have asked our owners, Nordic Capital, to find a new CEO for Sunrise Medical.”

Sunrise Medical is a global manufacturer of complex rehab products, seating and positioning systems, scooters and geriatric product lines. Key brands include Quickie, Sopur, RGK, JAY, Breezy, Sterling and Gemino.

Douglas moves into new position at VGM

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM & Associates has named Craig Douglas to the newly created position of vice president of payer and member relations.

Douglas will be tasked with navigating payer relationships and addressing concerns that are impacting VGM members.

“Adding Craig’s expertise will serve as a huge benefit to our membership community,” said Clint Geffert, VGM & Associates president, in a press release. “He brings 18 years of experience working with payer sources and providers and has vast knowledge of the HME industry.”

Douglas previously served as vice president of payer relations for VGM’s Homelink division, where he was responsible for provider onboarding; oversight of network adequacy for the payer partners and patients for whom care was coordinated; and building and fostering effective, goal-driven relationships with payers and providers. 

Mick joins Permobil

LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil has tapped WB Mick as its new general manager of the TiLite Business Unit Manual.

Mick, who will start June 12, previously worked as Numotion’s vice president of business development. Larry Jackson, president of Permobil’s Business Region Americas, will remain involved as president of the business unit, according to a press release.

“I always respected Larry’s vision and leadership and I am excited to work for him at world’s most innovative manual wheelchair manufacturer,” said Mick.  “Larry will continue to be a guiding force for me and Business Unit Manual.” 

Permobil acquired ROHO in 2015 and TiLite in 2014.

Lewarski elected to ARCF board

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Joe Lewarski has been elected to the board of directors of the American Respiratory Care Foundation. Lewarski, vice president of global respiratory and sleep for Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, is a registered respiratory therapist and fellow of the American Association for Respiratory Care. He has also served multiple terms on the AAHomecare board of directors and he was awarded the association’s Homecare Champion Award in 2011. Lewarski was also awarded the Invacare Award for Excellence in Home Respiratory Care by the ARCF in 2001.

AAH elects new leaders

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare elected new leadership during its annual membership meeting at the Washington Legislative Conference in May. Steve Ackerman, CEO, Spectrum Medical, is chairman of the board of directors; Bill Guidetti, executive vice president, East Zone, Apria Healthcare, is vice chairman; and Jeff Hall, president of Reliable Medical Supply, is treasurer. Laura McIlvaine a board member with Shield Healthcare, has joined the board; and Doug Coleman, CEO of Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment, Major Medical Supply & UCH Home Medical Supply, has joined the board and executive committee.

Consumer groups join the cause

WASHINGTON – More than two dozen national consumer advocacy groups have joined with the ITEM Coalition in urging lawmakers to sign on to a letter asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to use their regulatory authority to make changes to protect the HME benefit. “Over the past several years, CMS has made significant policy and regulatory changes to the Medicare DME benefit,” the letter states. “Many of these changes have been intended to save taxpayer money; however, they have had a substantial negative impact on beneficiary access to vital devices and services that improve health and function.”Among the consumer groups signing the letter: the Amputee Coalition, the Clinician Task Force, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the United Spinal Association.

Inogen gets international clearance

GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen has obtained the EC Certificate for its Inogen One G4 portable oxygen concentrator and will now make the device available for sale in certain countries. “We are thrilled to launch the Inogen One G4 internationally and look forward to working with our international partners to increase freedom and independence for oxygen users with this product around the world as we have done in the United States,” said Scott Wilkinson, president and CEO, in a press release. The Inogen One G4 launched in the U.S. in May 2016.

Short takes: D.W. McMillan, BOC, Insulet

D.W. McMillan Home Medical Equipmenthas a new location at 1108 Douglas Avenue in Brewton, Ala., right beside Regions Bank. “Our goal is to help people keep life on track and being more visible in our new location will hopefully help,” Larry Rambach, manager, told the Brewton Standard. D.W. McMillan is a full-service HME provider…Claudia Zacharias, president and CEO of the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC), has been recognized as a top 50 women-led business leader by the Commonwealth Institute of South Florida. She accepted the award at the group’s luncheon on May 18. TCI of South Florida partnered with Kaufman Rossin, a CPA and advisory firm, to survey more than 10,000 women-led businesses…Insulet Corp. has appointed Bret Christensen as chief commercial officer. He will run the company’s commercial operations, including sales, marketing, customer care, market access and advocacy. Christensen joins Insulet from Myriad Genetics, where he most recently served as general manager of the Preventive Care business unit.

 

QMES secures more financing

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:39
06/02/2017HME News Staff

NEW YORK – HME platform company QMES has obtained a second round of financing from CIT Group.

QMES, a DME provider in the Northeast, will use the $65 million secured senior credit facility to refinance legacy debt and support growth, according to a press release.

“QMES’s active M&A growth strategy has led to the successful completion and integration of more than 15 acquisitions and they currently serve over 100,000 patients annually,” said William Douglass, managing director and group head of CIT’s Healthcare Finance business. “As a result, the firm has grown to become the largest DME provider in the Northeast.”

QMES is a portfolio company of Quadrant Management, a New York-based private equity and restructuring firm that bought Landauer Metropolitan in 2013. An affiliate of Quadrant in May bought Braden Partners—better known as Pacific Pulmonary Services—and Associated Healthcare Systems from Teijin Limited.

QMES received a $50 million senior secured credit facility from CIT in 2014.

“Overall, the population is aging and we’re seeing growing rates of chronic diseases,” said Luke McGee, CEO of QMES in the release. “As a result, there’s a need for the type of equipment we distribute (i.e. CPAP machines, wheelchairs, ventilation equipment, etc.). CIT’s deep industry expertise and experience in financing middle market health care firms makes them a perfect financing partner for us and we’re excited to continue to build the business with them.”

People news: Sunrise Medical, VGM, Permobil

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 10:10
06/01/2017HME News Staff

FRESNO, Calif. – Thomas Rossnagel has resigned as president and CEO of Sunrise Medical, the manufacturer announced today.

Johan Ek, chairman of the board of directors, has taken over as acting CEO, according to a press release.

“After 20 years of service at Sunrise Medical, I would like to spend more time with my family,” said Rossnagel, who held the role since 2009. “For that reason, I have asked our owners, Nordic Capital, to find a new CEO for Sunrise Medical.”

Sunrise Medical is a global manufacturer of complex rehab products, seating and positioning systems, scooters and geriatric product lines. Key brands include Quickie, Sopur, RGK, JAY, Breezy, Sterling and Gemino.

Douglas moves into new position at VGM

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM & Associates has named Craig Douglas to the newly created position of vice president of payer and member relations.

Douglas will be tasked with navigating payer relationships and addressing concerns that are impacting VGM members.

“Adding Craig’s expertise will serve as a huge benefit to our membership community,” said Clint Geffert, VGM & Associates president, in a press release. “He brings 18 years of experience working with payer sources and providers and has vast knowledge of the HME industry.”

Douglas previously served as vice president of payer relations for VGM’s Homelink division, where he was responsible for provider onboarding; oversight of network adequacy for the payer partners and patients for whom care was coordinated; and building and fostering effective, goal-driven relationships with payers and providers. 

Mick joins Permobil

LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil has tapped WB Mick as its new general manager of the TiLite Business Unit Manual.

Mick, who will start June 12, previously worked as Numotion’s vice president of business development. Larry Jackson, president of Permobil’s Business Region Americas, will remain involved as president of the business unit, according to a press release.

“I always respected Larry’s vision and leadership and I am excited to work for him at world’s most innovative manual wheelchair manufacturer,” said Mick.  “Larry will continue to be a guiding force for me and Business Unit Manual.” 

Permobil acquired ROHO in 2015 and TiLite in 2014.

Mediware broadens reach in alternate care market

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 10:20
05/31/2017HME News Staff

LENEXA, Kan. – Mediware Information Systems has finalized an agreement to buy Kinnser Software, a provider of software solutions to 4,000 home health, hospice and private duty home care professionals, the company announced May 30.

The acquisition allows Mediware to expand its portfolio in the home health and hospice space, creating an integrated, high-growth software provider for the alternate care market, according to a press release.

“Kinnser’s intuitive platform provides Mediware with additional depth, expertise and capabilities to strengthen our platform in the home health and hospice space,” said Thomas Mann, CEO of Mediware, in the release. “This transaction marks our next step as we continue to expand our offering as the leading, integrated supplier of software solutions for alternate care providers.”

Mediware is purchasing Kinnser from Insight Venture Partners, a global private equity and venture capital firm based in New York City. Insight invests in growth-stage technology, software and Internet businesses.

TPG, which backed the deal, bought Mediware earlier this year.

“As experienced investors in software and healthcare, we have witnessed the role that innovation can play in advancing the industry’s infrastructure,” said Nehal Raj and Jeff Rhodes, partners at TPG, in the release. “Alternate care providers are continuing to see growth in patient volumes and are relying on technology as a low-cost and efficient management solution. We partnered with Mediware because we saw a compelling opportunity to invest in a high-quality software provider that will continue to benefit from these trends. Kinnser fits well within this vision, and broadens our end-market breadth within alternate care settings.”

Mediware has made a string of acquisitions in the past few years, including Definitive Homecare Solutions and its CPR+ platform; Fastrack; and CareCentric’s software solutions for the homecare market, including MestaMed.