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Updated: 22 hours 41 min ago

Crowdsourcing platform launches challenge to develop better oxygen solution

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 10:00
BETHESDA, Md. – HeroX, a social network and crowdsourcing platform, has launched the “Air You Wear Challenge” on behalf of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The challenge seeks to develop more portable, easy-to-use options for patients on supplemental oxygen. Patients who use oxygen consistently say oxygen should be lighter and more portable. “This is the perfect opportunity to tap the global network to solve a problem that affects so many people,” said Christian Cotichini, CEO, HeroX. “The options currently on the market don’t live up to our innovative capacity: oxygen cylinders are heavy and cumbersome, and oxygen concentrators have limited battery life, precluding some patients from being able to use them.” The two-phase challenge will award a total of $500,000 in prizes. In Phase 1, up to eight teams proposing the most compelling and impactful solutions will each receive up to $50,000 to help develop a working prototype and/or demonstration of their proposed approach during the Phase 2 development period. At the end of Phase 2, up to three teams will be awarded first, second and third prizes of $60,000, $30,000 and $10,000, respectively, for the best prototypes/demonstrations.

AARC releases videos to thank RTs

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 09:53
IRVING, Texas – The American Association of Respiratory Care has released a series of new videos, “Thank a Respiratory Therapist,” to help increase community awareness of the profession and highlight the essential role RTs have played in patient care during COVID-19 and beyond. “Like many health care professionals working on the front lines of the pandemic, respiratory therapists worked tirelessly and selflessly to help patients everywhere,” said Sheri Tooley, president and CEO. “They are essential to patients in all care settings. They provide unique, specialized skills to the patients they care for. And for that, we say thank you. Thank you to respiratory therapists everywhere for your commitment to saving lives every day.” The videos are available in English and Spanish and can be found on YouTube and the AARC website.

Short takes: Soleo, OneDrop

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 09:50
Soleo Health has named Becky Rand vice president of business development, industry relations. Rand has more than 20 years of experience in specialty pharmacy, most recently as vice president, manufacturer relations at ExceleraRx…OneDrop has appointed Carrie Siragusa as vice president of commercial strategy. Siragusa has more than 15 years of financial, operational and marketing experience in public and private organizations in the pharmaceutical, health sciences and life sciences, most recently leading the Innovation and Diabetes Portfolio team at Sanofi.

Accessories: Stakeholders secure reprieve

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 13:11
WASHINGTON – CMS has announced a 90-day suspension of scheduled Medicare cuts to accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs, NCART reports. That extends an 18-month suspension that would have expired on July 1 to Oct. 1. “They will use this time for further analysis and, hopefully, a permanent suspension,” Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, tweeted today. “Thank you advocates, Congress and CMS.” On Monday, a letter led by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., and signed by 19 members of Congress was sent to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure asking her to stop the Medicare payment cuts. CMS said it is extending the suspension based on several factors:Beneficiaries with disabilities such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury often rely on complex rehabilitative wheelchairs and accessories to maximize their function and independence.It is important to avoid any potential operational difficulties for suppliers, our partners in the Medicaid program or private payers that have elected to rely on the DMEPOS fee schedule that could result from frequent updates to the Medicare fee schedules.Finally, this action is consistent with prior Medicare program policy actions related to similar accessories for complex power rehabilitative wheelchairs as described in section 2 of the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act of 2015."CMS is actively reviewing public comments submitted to the agency on related rulemakings, including engaging in future rulemaking, and will update interested stakeholders and suppliers when more information is available,” the agency said.  

Roll on Capitol Hill names Advocate of Year

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 09:09
WASHINGTON – Natalie Barnhard was named the recipient of the Finn Bullers Advocate of the Year Award at this year’s United Spinal Association Roll on Capitol Hill event, which took place virtually June 14-16. Barnhard is the chapter leader of the Western New York Chapter of United Spinal and the founder and president of Motion Project Foundation. She has been a wheelchair user for 16 years, following a spinal cord injury while at work as a physical therapy assistant (PTA).  In September, the Natalie Barnhard Center for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and Recovery will celebrate its grand opening. This year’s Roll on Capitol Hill drew about 200 attendees from across the country. 

PHS grows presence in Ohio

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 09:07
ROSEVILLE, Minn. – Pediatric Home Service has expanded its services in Ohio, partnering with Advanced Medical Equipment and Central Ohio Specialty Care, a division of AME. “Our mission of providing at-home solutions for medically complex pediatric patients remains at the forefront of everything we do,” said Cameo Zehnder, CEO of PHS. “We hope this partnership expands our ability to support not only the family, but also the health care professional team, empowering them to make decisions in the best interest of the patient.” In October, PHS expanded its presence in Texas, when it partnered with San Antonio-based Alliance Medical Supply. The provider has locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

OSHA weighs in on COVID workplace safety

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 09:05
WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks comments on an interim final rule, the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), that has been posted to the Federal Register website.  The ETS stems from an executive order signed by President Biden in January 2021 to protect worker health and safety. It directed OSHA to take action to reduce the risk for workers of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The ETS contains several requirements that apply to most settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services, including DME suppliers and home health agencies. Employers will have 14 to 30 days to comply, depending on the standard. Key requirements of the ETS include: The employer must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan for each workplace. If the employer has more than 10 employees, the COVID-19 plan must be in writing. The employer must designate one or more workplace COVID-19 safety coordinators to implement and monitor the COVID-19 plan. The employer must conduct a workplace-specific hazard assessment to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19. For an employer to be exempt from providing controls based on employees’ fully vaccinated status, the COVID-19 plan must include policies and procedures to determine employees’ vaccination status. The employer must seek the input and involvement of non-managerial employees and their representatives, if any, in the hazard assessment and the development and implementation of the COVID-19 plan. The employer must monitor each workplace to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the COVID-19 plan and update it as needed. An employer’s COVID-19 plan must also address the hazards identified by the assessment and include policies and procedures to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for each employee and effectively communicate and coordinate with other employers when workspace is shared by multiple employers. Additionally, the COVID-19 plan must contain provisions that protect employees who enter into private residences or other physical locations controlled by a person not covered by the OSH Act (e.g., homeowners, sole proprietors). This must include procedures for employees to withdraw from that location if those protections are inadequate.  

AdvaMed urges Biden to prioritize transportation of medical equipment

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 09:03
WASHINGTON – AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whittaker has asked President Biden to make the transport of medical supplies and equipment a “top priority” during the current logistics and transport crisis. “While we appreciate that multiple industries are affected by these disruptions, we believe the implications for the health care system and patient care are imperative as we head into the fall, which brings with it flu season and uncertainty around COVID-19 variants in unvaccinated populations,” the letter states. AdvaMed points out in the letter that the challenges at major U.S. and international ports – including container shortages, limited unloading space and insufficient trucking capacity – continue as purchasing behavior in the country has dramatically shifted during the pandemic. The association also highlighted how the medical device industry has ramped up to around-the-clock operations to meet the increased demand due to the pandemic – exponentially increasing PPE production, ramping up ventilator manufacturing by more than tenfold and shipping more than 1 billion tests in the U.S. within 15 months. AdvaMed thanked the administration for its efforts to ensure patients have the care they need stating, “In particular, we’ve appreciated the dedicated work of your COVID-19 response team, which has been working tirelessly to address supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions to facilitate our industry’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.”AdvaMed is a medical technology association representing more than 400 companies. 2021-06-22 President Biden Letter.pdf (file.ac) 

Inogen names incoming counsel

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 09:07
GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen’s board of directors has appointed Jason Somer as executive vice president and general counsel and secretary, effective July 12. “On behalf of the board, I would like to congratulate Jason on this appointment as I believe that he will be a tremendous asset to Inogen and a great addition to our executive team,” said Nabil Shabshab, CEO. “I believe Jason’s 25 years of experience in general counsel and attorney roles will be a great enabler in building a stronger Inogen and further strengthening our legal and compliance functions as we continue to evolve and roll out our ongoing growth strategy.” Somer currently serves as head legal counsel at Invoca, a SaaS analytics company. Prior to that, he served as associate general counsel at Sunniva, and as general counsel and corporate secretary for Innova Gaming Group.

NSM named Top Workplace

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 09:06
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2021 honor by The Tennessean for the third consecutive year. The list is based solely on anonymous employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by Energage, an employee engagement technology company. “As reflected in our core values, NSM team members consistently have our clients’ best interests at heart,” said Bill Mixon, CEO. “Despite serving some of the most vulnerable populations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team continued to work seamlessly to ensure mobility and accessibility needs were met for our clients.” The survey measures workplace culture, including alignment, coaching, connection, engagement, leadership and performance, as well as basics like pay, benefits, flexibilities and more. NSM operates 182 branches across the U.S. and Canada, with more than 2,300 employees, 70 of whom work in the Franklin, Tenn.-based corporate office and middle-Tennessee branches, and 250 of whom work in the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based operations center and branch. 

Short takes: Supreme Medical, Admiral Medical Supplies

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 09:04
Supreme Medical Fulfillment has become a silver associate sponsor of the Georgia Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (GAMES). “Being a faster company matters today more than ever,” said Colton Mason, senior vice president. “If we receive an order by 4:30 p.m. ET, Supreme is able to deliver those supplies or equipment to a patient’s home or provider’s location in Georgia within one or two days. In a time when some vendors are struggling to get orders delivered within a week, we feel our speed gives us a powerful message to talk about with GAMES members.” The company, a family-owned distributor based in Theodore, Ala., will be exhibiting at the upcoming GAMES Annual Meeting Aug. 1-3 in St. Simons Island, Ga…Admiral Medical Supplies opened its doors in June in Flower Mound, Texas. The company is currently accepting customers only by appointment, but it expects to be fully open on July 1. Admiral Medical Supplies sells, rents and repairs home medical equipment.

Medicaid, CHIP enrollees increase 13.9%

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 09:03
WASHINGTON – A record more than 80 million individuals now have health coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), according to a new Enrollment Trends Snapshot Report that CMS released this week. Nearly 9.9 million individuals, a 13.9% increase, enrolled in coverage between February 2020, the month before the public health emergency was declared, and January 2021, according to the report, which is released monthly. “This report reminds us what a critical program and rock Medicaid continues to be in giving tens of millions of children and adults access to care,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. “This pandemic taught us that now more than, we must work to strengthen Medicaid and make it available whenever and wherever it’s needed using the unprecedented investments Congress provided.” The increase in total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is largely attributed to the impact of the PHE, in particular, enactment of section 6008 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. FFCRA provides states with a temporary 6.2% payment increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding. States qualify for the funding by adhering to the Maintenance of Effort requirement, which ensures eligible people enrolled in Medicaid stay enrolled and covered during the PHE. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, a total of 80,543,351 people were enrolled and receiving full benefits from the Medicaid and CHIP programs by the end of January 2021. In the 50 states that reported total Medicaid child and CHIP enrollment data for January 2021, more than 38.3 million children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP combined, approximately 50% of the total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment.  

Members of Congress press CMS on accessories

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 09:01
WASHINGTON – A letter signed by 19 members of Congress was sent to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure late on Monday asking her to stop the Medicare payment cuts to accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs that are set to go into effect July 1. The letter, circulated by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., was signed by 18 members of the House of Representatives and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “CMS has been reviewing the issues and our communication with them has been ongoing,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART in an email bulletin. “There are additional meetings scheduled with CMS this week as CRT stakeholder organizations collectively continue to work toward preventing these cuts that will take away access for people with disabilities who depend on CRT manual wheelchairs.” The letter asks Brooks-LaSure to extend an 18-month pause on competitive bidding pricing for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs. These accessories have been temporarily exempted from bid pricing only through June 30. 

Senators re-introduce bill to improve access to custom breast prosthetics

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 11:08
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on June 15 re-introduced legislation to ensure that breast cancer patients and survivors who have had a mastectomy are able to access custom breast prosthetics under Medicare. The Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act of 2021 would provide coverage for custom fabricated breast prostheses – which, unlike other prosthetic devices, aren’t covered by Medicare – to more than 100,000 women who undergo mastectomies annually, according to Essentially Women, a division of the VGM Group. “We can do so much more to help survivors of breast cancer return to health and achieve the best quality of life,” Duckworth said. “This bi-partisan legislation is an important step in continuing to expand health care coverage for women and achieving health equity for older women and women of color.” Duckworth and Murkowski were joined by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in introducing the legislation. Similar legislation introduced in the 116th Congress drew support from 4 co-sponsors.  

Tomorrow Health recruits Amazon exec

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 11:06
NEW YORK – Krishnakumar Rajagopalan has left Amazon, where he spent seven years building systems for retail, advertising and AWS, to join Tomorrow Health as head of engineering. Rajagopalan was part of teams at Amazon building e-commerce search engines, fulfillment systems, advertising systems and a new AWS AI service. “I have joined Tomorrow Health as the head of engineering where I will continue my journey as a builder – building systems that will improve the lives of millions of patients and their families,” he said. Aside from the impact of working for Tomorrow Health, Rajagopalan said he joined the company because of its technology challenges. “Our tech stack spans what one might expect from a tech-enabled marketplace, but with a health care twist,” he said. “We are building interfaces to medical systems, order workflows, fulfillment technology and data systems to track operations by the minute – all with a specialized focus on the clinic rules and routing technology that exists within health care. There is a lot of opportunity to work on real world problems and build systems to scale, with each workflow directly resulting in better care for a patient in need.”

Rehab Medical invests in employee growth

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 11:04
INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical has appointed Julie Klarich as director of employee development and engagement. She will lead the company’s enrichment initiatives, including the Your Better Self initiative launched in 2020. “Having a great company starts with having great employees,” said Kevin Gearheart, president. “We have invested a lot of time and energy coming up with some great initiatives geared toward employee development and engagement, and now we have someone who is a perfect fit to lead these initiatives.” Klarich has spent more than a decade providing professional development, organizational leadership and relationship management consulting. She was most recently director of affiliate relations at the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and previously a consultant at Eli Lilly. Rehab Medical’s Your Better Self Program works to develop employee skills through various training programs, such as the Leadership Exploration and Development (LEAD) program, and mentorship programs dedicated to coaching new hires in the first six months.

Oventus highlights DTC business

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 11:03
BRISBANE, Australia – Oventus Medical says current data indicate that 60% of all patient referrals are coming direct-to-consumer from through two websites: gopapfree.com and o2vent.com. Additionally, the company says the number of telehealth consultations scheduled has increased 25% in the current quarter compared to the previous quarter. “Since Oventus launched its telehealth initiative as a result of COVID-19, the patient funnel has captured more than 2,000 patients,” the company stated in an update. “This growing database of interested patients looking to access Oventus Airway Technology informs the company’s marketing strategy and underpins future growth. As this program matures over the coming months and digital assets are redeveloped with improved visibility on conversion rates and customer acquisition costs, the return on investment into this channel will become more predictable and investment into this channel can be prioritized to accelerate sales growth.” Oventus also announced that Sleep Clinic Services in Brisbane has signed on to the company’s virtual lab-in-lab program. Under the agreement, Sleep Clinic Services will market and distribute O2Vent therapy to patients through the program. 

Providers assess Philips recall

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 10:46
YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers had far more questions than answers as they scrambled to field patient inquiries and craft game plans in the days following the news of a voluntary recall of Philips’ first generation DreamStation CPAP devices. Philips announced the recall on June 14 to address identified potential health risks related to the polyester-based polyurethane sound abatement foam component in certain Bi-Level, CPAP and mechanical ventilator devices. “We’re doing a lot of talking right now, discussing how to move forward not knowing what we don’t know,” said Tyler Riddle, president of MRS Homecare in Georgia. “We’re communicating with physician referrals and sleep labs, but as far as going after affected customers, we haven’t begun that yet because we don’t know how to accommodate them.” Philips says it has begun preparations, including obtaining the relevant regulatory clearances, to replace the current foam with a new material, but at press time, the company hadn’t yet announced those clearances. Philips has launched a website specifically for the recall, www.philips.com/src-update, where providers can get more information and register affected units. As part of the announcement, Philips advised Bi-Level and CPAP patients to discontinue using affected devices and work with their physicians or HME providers to determine the most appropriate options for continued treatment. The first call should be to physicians, providers say. “We have asked them to stop telling patients to go to their DME, as we do not feel we should be guiding medical care and the physician should do that,” said Eric Mongeau, national sales director of sleep and respiratory for Aeroflow in North Carolina. “We’ve put up a voice recording on our phone system that tells patients, if they are calling about the recall, we recommend you speak to your physician. Everybody’s in the dark.” In addition to updating their phone systems, providers have updated their websites with important links from Philips. O’Neal Medical has also provided potential options to affected patients, such as receiving a replacement machine or, if they’re not a customer, privately purchasing or renting-to-own a device. “We’re also getting inquiries from people using (devices made by other manufacturers),” said Woody O’Neal, vice president. “This creates concerns in the consumer’s mind. It’s a fair question.” Although Philips provided a glimpse of the problem during an April earnings call, in which CEO Frans van Houten said the company was “proactively” working to address a possible safety concern, providers say the scope of the issue is probably far greater than anyone originally thought. Just performing repairs on that many devices – a reported 3 million to 4 million – is overwhelming. “When I ran a report of affected DreamStation units, we had 6,800,” said Riddle. Then there are the more general impacts on an already stressed supply chain for CPAP devices, not only for Philips but also for other manufacturers, providers say.  “ResMed is telling us that we are going to get our current order, but no more until after July 5th or 6th,” said George Kucka, president of Fairmeadows Home Health in Indiana. “We will be taken care of as a longtime customer, but new people will have to stand in line and will probably go to an allocation system.” Still other concerns include the impact on patient compliance rates and the potential ripple effect throughout the health care industry as word spreads. Riddle said one of his customer service reps was asked by a payer what CPAP machine she was seeking an authorization for.  “The rep said they are not giving auths on affected units right now,” he said.

Makers of CPAP cleaners distance themselves from recall

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 10:43
PETERSBOROUGH, N.H. – SoClean is standing by its CPAP cleaning device, after Philips said “unapproved cleaning methods, such as ozone,” may be exacerbating the degradation of sound abatement foam in its first-generation DreamStation product family.  Philips made the claim as part of a voluntary recall announced June 14 to address identified potential health risks related to the polyester-based polyurethane foam in certain Bi-Level CPAP, CPAP and mechanical ventilator devices.  “Almost all the machines affected by this recall have no connection to an ozone cleaning device,” the company said in a statement. “SoClean stands behind its product and its use. SoClean will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further updates as needed.” Philips says potential health risks include that the foam may degrade into particles that may enter the device’s air pathway and be ingested or inhaled by the user, and the foam may off-gas certain chemicals. SoClean points out that, based on its market share data and the number of installed CPAP devices, the large majority of patients do not use the company’s cleaning device. “While SoClean would love for all CPAP users to use a cleaning device, nearly 80% of all CPAP users do not,” the company said. “Philips also notes that high heat and humidity environments may contribute to foam degradation.”  Additionally, SoClean points out the recall also impacts certain vents, and SoClean does not make a cleaning device for vents. “Clearly this recall, by Philips’ own admission, was not precipitated due to the use of cleaning devices,” the company said. It’s not the first time SoClean and Philips have crossed paths over the use of ozone to clean CPAP devices. In early 2020, Philips said in a letter responding to a customer’s request for written guidance on the use of CPAP cleaning devices that using SoClean on its DreamStation would not automatically void the warranty, but that the company “reserved the right to void a warranty if it is determined that the use of SoClean caused a defect for which a device otherwise under warranty was returned.” Kyle Miko, vice president and chief marketing officer for VirtuOx, says Philips’ comments about the use of ozone do not apply to the company’s CPAP cleaning device, because its device does not attach to the CPAP. PJ Ruflin, vice president of business development for Sunset Healthcare Solutions, which launched a CPAP cleaning device last year, says the company is “listening to customers to ensure we understand the situation as best as possible and are doing what we can to assist them in managing it.” Jackson Buchanon, director of business development for Sleep8, says its cleaning device does not flow ozone over the foam in the CPAP. “We have been in contact with all of our DME partners and are focused on supporting them as they navigate this challenge.”Responsive Respiratory Inc. says its Purify O3 and Purify O3 Elite are designed for disinfecting and deodorizing accessories like masks, tubing and humidification chambers and not CPAP devices. “This recall does not correlate to RRI’s family of Purify O3 devices,” it says. 

Hiring prospects are grim, according to HME Newspoll

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 10:41
YARMOUTH, Maine – A whopping 90% of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll say they’re having difficulty hiring employees, an issue that’s exacerbated by existing struggles with low reimbursement. The largest percentage of respondents (72%) reported they’re having the most difficulty hiring entry level employees like customer service representatives. “With cuts in reimbursement over the years, compounded with massive audits and recoupments, there is not enough margin to hire quality employees at a competitive rate,” wrote one respondent. “As a result, to remain viable, we are having to move administrative work overseas. This industry is headed toward a collapse based on current reimbursement rates – it is not enough to pay for all the materials, equipment and staffing necessary to remain viable. The lowering reimbursement from Medicare and increasing audit activity is effectively forcing the loss of U.S. jobs in this industry.” HME companies aren’t alone, of course. Overall, there are about 3.5 million fewer people in the workforce today than there were in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and new unemployment benefits were introduced. After entry level employees, respondents reported having the most difficulty hiring clinical staff (21%). A number of respondents noted a shortage of respiratory therapists, in particular. “RTs are leaving for short-termed, incentivized opportunities in other health care settings: hospitals, traveling jobs and physician offices,” wrote Dewey Roof of LifeHME in South Carolina. To improve their odds of hiring employees, 49% of respondents reported that they’ve increased pay, on average, 13.8%. “The labor ‘shortage’ is a supply and demand issue,” wrote on respondent. “The supply of labor is inelastic, but demand is high – that should lead, in an open market, to (wages) rising, which is exactly what we’re seeing. Businesses are having to pay their workers more, instead of complaining that they can’t find workers at artificially low wages. Our business offers competitive wages and good benefits, and we have zero problems finding employees.” Depending on a company’s business model, however, offering higher wages is a struggle, leading to a number of respondents reporting increased hours for existing staff and, often, management and ownership. “We, as a company, have pulled up our bootstraps and taken on more responsibility,” wrote Josh Miller of Transcend Medical in Alabama. “Even as an owner, I will do deliveries/service calls/pickups or other tasks as needed to help my employees and get the job done.” States that opt out of federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic are doing companies that are looking to hire a favor, a number of respondents reported. “We are in dire need of employees and can’t even get applicants,” wrote one respondent. “The feedback I get from employees is that their friends are making more on unemployment during the pandemic and don’t plan to return as long as they’re receiving that money.”