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Moneyline: Drive Medical seeks buyer, EZ-Access makes buy

HME News - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 12:16
06/03/2016HME News Staff

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive Medical has hired an investment bank to explore and carry out a potential sale of the company, according to PE Hub.

Drive Medical, which is partly owned by the private equity firm Ferrer, Freeman & Co., has hired Robert W. Baird & Co. to explore a sale that could value the company at more than $1 billion with debt, PE Hub reported on June 1.

The company generated EBITDA of about $95 million in 12 months, it reported.

The sale could take the form of a majority or minority stake in the company, with the management team retaining a portion of the equity, PE Hub reported.

Drive Medical has completed more than half a dozen acquisitions since 2011, in moves that have rounded out its product lines and expanded its presence overseas. Most recently, it acquired DeVilbiss Healthcare.

EZ-Access buys Phillips Life Systems

ALGONA, Wash. – EZ-Access, a division of Homecare Products Inc., has made a second acquisition in its quest to become a one-stop shop for accessibility products.

The company, which has its roots in residential, portable, threshold and modular ramps, has bought Pickens, S.C.-based Phillips Lift Systems, adding a line of power toilet seat lifts to its offerings.

“This lift is the perfect fit to support our growing accessibility product development,” said Don Everard, CEO of EZ-Access.

EZ-Access will move manufacturing of the power toilet seat lifts to its facilities in Algona, Wash., and Morganfield, Ky. It will rebrand and sell the lifts under the EZ-Access name of Tilt. A release date will be announced soon.

In September 2015, EZ-Access bought Mesa, Ariz.-based Worldwide Mobility, a manufacturer of powered vehicle lifts. It rebranded the lift as the Haulaway.

AvaCare competes with world wide web

HME News - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 12:10
06/03/2016Theresa Flaherty

LAKEWOOD, N.J. – When it came time to rebuild its website from the platform up, AvaCare Medical went all in, with a new name and a new brand to back it up.

Formerly Avaline Medical, AvaCare Medical is an online provider of medical equipment and supplies—from patient lifts to wheelchairs to incontinence and skin care products.

“We are not a storefront, so our competitor is not two blocks away,” said CEO Steven Zeldes. “Our competitor is the world wide web.”

The new website, avacaremedical.com, offers an improved user experience, with easy-to-browse categories featuring more than 90,000 products with product photos, descriptions and reviews.

The new website also has a “FitRep” feature that allows users to enter information like height, weight and mobility level to find the right equipment.

“A customer doesn’t have the ability to sit in the wheelchair to see how it feels, or measure it,” said Zeldes. “We have to give them that experience online with the information that’s most relevant to them.”

What’s more, AvaCare is just starting to ramp up the website—it will be adding buying guides, blogs and other features going forward.

It’s all in the name of customer service, which carries a high premium when you’re talking about online purchases, Zeldes says.

“A lot of times, the customers don’t know what they need,” he said. “We can hold their hand and walk them through the options; we can send them samples.”

AvaCare, which has about 400,000 customers, accepts no insurance, Zeldes says.

“Believe it or not, people ask me all the time, ‘How do you get people to buy out of pocket?’” he said. “People simply don’t have insurance, or the insurance won’t cover a particular product, or the product broke and the plan won’t cover a new one. Also, many of our customers possibly don’t want to go through the hassle that insurance can sometimes cause.”

Managers or ministers?

HME News - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 12:10
Court holds HME providers to higher degree of accountability06/03/2016Liz Beaulieu

SAN FRANCISCO – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a judge’s decision to give an HME provider charged with alleged Medicare fraud a stiffer sentence.

The Ninth Circuit Court, in a recent 2-1 decision, agreed that a California federal judge rightly applied an “abuse-of-trust enhancement” when sentencing husband-and-wife team Patrick Sogbein and Adebola Adebimpe to prison terms of 144 months and 51 months, respectively.

“We hold that medical equipment suppliers can have the requisite ‘professional or managerial discretion’ for the abuse-of-trust adjustment to apply,” the two affirming judges wrote. “They are responsible for determining the need for the equipment they provide and personally certify the validity of their claims to Medicare.”

As part of a scheme that spanned years, Sogbein and Adebimpe allegedly enlisted the help of Dr. Edra Calaustro to refer patients to their companies, Debs Medical Distributors in Van Nuys, Calif., and Dignity Medical Supply in Santa Clara, Calif. In turn, they allegedly paid Calaustro, who made the referrals without performing the required medical exams, $100 per prescription.

All told, from December 2006 through July 2011, the couple was paid more than $1.6 million for more than 400 allegedly fraudulent power wheelchair claims.

Healthcare attorney Jeff Baird says the decision to apply the “abuse-of-trust enhancement” to an HME provider—an adjustment historically applied only to “white coat” professionals like physicians—puts them further on the hook.

“To impose the ‘abuse of trust’ standard on a DME supplier conveys the message that DME suppliers will be held to a higher degree of accountability if they certify a need for equipment,” said Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato.

The sole dissenting judge argued unsuccessfully that the application of the “abuse-of-trust enhancement” in this case mischaracterizes the role of the HME provider.

“In my view, DME suppliers do not exercise substantial professional or managerial discretion within Medicare’s reimbursement scheme because Medicare’s rules and regulations confine them to a ministerial role and leave all critical determinations of medical need to the beneficiary’s physician,” the judge wrote.

In brief: CQRC asks CMS to slow down, Circadiance readies rebrand

HME News - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 12:05
06/03/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – The Council for Quality Respiratory Care says the findings of a recent Office of Inspector General report further demonstrate the need to slow down the national rollout of Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

“Federal policymakers should carefully evaluate the risk for implementing cuts too fast and take measures to ensure access to quality patient care is prioritized and protected,” said Dan Starck, chairman of the CQRC, a coalition of home respiratory therapy providers and manufacturers. “We know that high quality home respiratory care keeps patients at home and out of emergency rooms, hospitals and other institutional care settings.”

Medicare is poised to implement a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas on July 1. The first round of cuts—25%, on average—went into effect Jan. 1.

The OIG found that 43% of the 146 providers they audited had not met state licensure requirements for at least some of the competitive bidding contracts they received. Additionally, it was unclear whether or not an additional 14 providers, or 9.6%, met the requirements.

“Considering that nearly half of the suppliers that were awarded contracts had not met basic state licensure requirements, we have significant concerns with the integrity of the competitive bidding rate setting process,” Starck said. “The fact that unqualified suppliers’ bids were used to set rates means that the current rates are not correct, and applying them to non-competitive bidding areas could create serious problems.”

Industry stakeholders have bills in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to delay the implementation of the second round of cuts until at least Oct. 1, 2017.

Accessibility groups wrangle over specifics of bill

WASHINGTON – The Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America has appealed to lawmakers to tweak a bill in the House of Representatives, as well as a companion bill being considered in the Senate, that seeks to improve the provision of automobiles and adaptive equipment by Veterans Affairs. In a May 19 letter to the chairman of the Senate’s Committee of Veterans Affairs, the group said the bill, H.R. 3471: “needs a more robust conflict-of-interest provision related to the use of a third-party certification organization for the new safety standards.” The Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America says the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association drafted the bill as part of its campaign to become designated as the VA’s third-party certification organization. That’s unfair, the Independent Auto Life Dealers of America says, because NMEDA is dominated by three large national chains. The group says the bill should be tweaked to better differentiate between simple and complex modifications to ensure that exterior lifts that don’t affect the operation of or alter the structure of the vehicle may continue to be installed at home.

Option Care awarded enteral contracts

BANNOCKBURN, Ill. – Option Care has accepted contracts in the Round 2 re-compete to provide enteral nutrition services across the country. The provider has participated in the competitive bid program since 2011. “Our continued selection by CMS demonstrates that Option Care is a partner of choice because our proven track record of delivering quality care ensures successful outcomes,” said John Rademacher, COO for Option Care. “Our high rates of patient satisfaction and safety demonstrate that we put patients at the center of our personalized, compassionate approach to care.” Option Care is one of the largest providers of home and alternate site infusion services, with more than 1,800 clinicians.

Cape Medical launches new phone system

SANDWICH, Mass. – Cape Medical Supply has implemented an Internet-based phone system in partnership with ShoreTel Connect. The new system will reduce wait times, and result in direct department access and more efficient customer service. “As we continue to grow and expand our reach across New England, we needed to invest in our future and invest in our continued improvement as a company so we can scale our industry-leading patient care programs," said Gary Sheehan, president and CEO of Cape Medical Supply. ShoreTel Connect will eventually be integrated with the company’s email system of offer web-based support to its customers.

U.S. Rehab, TiLite partner up

WATERLOO, Iowa – U.S. Rehab and Permobil have announced that TiLite will be a contracted supplier of titanium and aluminum manual wheelchairs for members of U.S. Rehab. “Our mutual interests in patient outcomes are what brings this synergy,” said Greg packer, president of U.S. Rehab. “This relationship with another high quality manufacturer like TiLite is a big win for U.S. Rehab members all over the country.” Permobil acquired TiLite in 2014.

Groups promote ‘Get Out & Enjoy Life’ contest

ATLANTA – Sports ‘n Spokes, the sports and recreation magazine of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, has teamed up with Wheel:Life, a social community for wheelchair users, to promote the “Get Out & Enjoy Life This Summer” photo contest and prize giveaway. The social media pages of Sports ‘n Spokes and Wheel:Life will feature daily listings of accessible vacation spots, outdoors programs and other events to encourage wheelchair users to participate in the contest, now in its sixth year. The first place winner will receive a Panthera X carbon fiber wheelchair valued at $11,000 courtesy of Triumph Mobility, a “Get Out & Enjoy Life” prize pack and, depending on the quality of the photo submitted, the cover of the September issue of Sports ‘n Spokes.

Drive DeVilbiss adds fourth distribution center

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare will open a 232,000-square-foot distribution center in Indianapolis on June 1 to meet growing demand for its products. “We will continue to optimize our supply chain to provide better value and improved service levels to our customers,” said Harvey Diamond, CEO of Drive DeVilbiss, in a press release. Similar to existing centers in South Brunswick, N.J., Atlanta and Rialto, Calif., the center features the latest in automation to ensure orders are processed, picked and shipped quickly and accurately. It will house the entire Drive DeVilbiss product line.

Circadiance ready to rebrand

EXPORT, Pa. – Circadiance has received a scope extension to its ISO 13485 Certificate and CE Marketing for its SmartMonitor and NeoPAP product lines, the company announced June 1. These approvals allow Circadiance to complete the rebranding of the product lines to fully capitalize on the interest of several international distributors. Circadiance acquired the SmartMonitor and NeoPAP product lines, including the infant apnea monitoring and PAP technologies associated with them, from Philips Respironics last year.

Point of Rental impacts revenues

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Point of Rental Software, a provider of rental and inventory management software, has completed a study of the impact that online orders are having on rental business revenues. One client reported that first quarter earnings were up about 30% after implementing Point of Rental Essentials, a cloud-based product for rental and inventory needs. The product allows businesses to provide their customers with a 24/7 view of availability, and get quotes and reserve items. It also features a portal where they can access their accounts, view orders, cancel bookings and make secure payments online.

Short takes

Exeter, Pa.-based Quantum Rehab has continued its partnership with the ALS Association. As a premier-level national partner, the company supports ALS Association events, including the Walk to Defeat ALS. Chapters of the association have the opportunity to collaborate with Quantum’s national network for the Walk and other events…Goleta, Calif.-based Inogen has gone to market with the Inogen One G4 portable oxygen concentrator. The G4 is the company’s smallest and lightest POC at 2.8 pounds…ResMed has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for the iVAPS therapy mode for its Astral life support ventilators. ResMed’s Astral life support ventilators offer mobility and ease of use for patients suffering from neuromuscular disease, COPD, and other adult and pediatric breathing disorders...Pride Mobility Products has been granted a patent for “Elevated Height Wheelchairs” relating to its Quantum iLevel, Jazzy Air and corresponding power seat elevation technologies. Specifically, the patent addresses safer performance of a power elevating seating system in conjunction with power base operation.

People news

Michael Petras, formerly president of Cardinal Health’s Post-Acute Solutions businesses, has been named CEO of Sterigenics International. Sterigenics is a provider of contract sterilization, gamma technologies and medical isotopes, and is a portfolio company of Warburg Pincus and GTCR. Petras succeeds Michael Mulhern, who has been appointed executive chairman of the company’s board of directors. Before Cardinal Health, Petras was the CEO of AssuraMed, which Cardinal bought for about $2 billion in 2013.

EZ-Access buys Phillips Lift Systems

HME News - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 08:44
06/03/2016HME News Staff

ALGONA, Wash. – EZ-Access, a division of Homecare Products Inc., has made a second acquisition in its quest to become a one-stop shop for accessibility products.

The company, which has its roots in residential, portable, threshold and modular ramps, has bought Pickens, S.C.-based Phillips Lift Systems, adding a line of power toilet seat lifts to its offerings.

“This lift is the perfect fit to support our growing accessibility product development,” said Don Everard, CEO of EZ-Access.

EZ-Access will move manufacturing of the power toilet seat lifts to its facilities in Algona, Wash., and Morganfield, Ky. It will rebrand and sell the lifts under the EZ-Access name of Tilt. A release date will be announced soon.

In September 2015, EZ-Access bought Mesa, Ariz.-based Worldwide Mobility, a manufacturer of powered vehicle lifts. It rebranded the lift as the Haulaway.

Drive Medical seeks buyer

HME News - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 10:04
06/02/2016HME News Staff

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Drive Medical has hired an investment bank to explore and carry out a potential sale of the company, according to PE Hub.

Drive Medical, which is partly owned by the private equity firm Ferrer, Freeman & Co., has hired Robert W. Baird & Co. to explore a sale that could value the company at more than $1 billion with debt, PE Hub reported on June 1.

The company generated EBITDA of about $95 million in 12 months, it reported.

The sale could take the form of a majority or minority stake in the company, with the management team retaining a portion of the equity, PE Hub reported.

Drive Medical has completed more than half a dozen acquisitions since 2011, in moves that have rounded out its product lines and expanded its presence overseas. Most recently, it acquired DeVilbiss Healthcare.

GAO releases report on accessories

HME News - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 13:40
06/01/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – Accessories for complex power wheelchairs might account for a relatively small share of Medicare utilization, but they account for a much larger share of total spending, according to a highly anticipated report published June 1 by the Government Accountability Office.

These accessories accounted for about 18% (312,000) of all wheelchair accessories in 2014 but about 51% ($159 million) of total spending. E1007, a power seating system with combination tilt and recline, accounted for 35% of total spending on accessories for complex power wheelchairs, at a price tag of $56 million, the GAO found.

Among the 10 accessories for complex power wheelchairs with the highest estimated expenditures, eight had payment rates adjusted by competitive bidding. These adjusted rates resulted in reductions ranging from 4% (expandable controller, E2377) to 17% (mounting hardware for joystick, control interface, or positioning accessory, E1028) compared to the unadjusted rates, according to the GAO.

The report was required by the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, a bill signed into law in December that delayed the application of bid pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs for one year. Due to its inability to change its claims processing system fast enough, however, Medicare will use the adjusted rates until July 1.

Industry stakeholders, who argue that bid pricing shouldn’t be applied to accessories for complex power wheelchairs at all because complex power wheelchairs have been carved out of the program, hoped the GAO report would increase their chances of getting a more permanent fix passed by Congress this year. 

Accessibility groups wrangle over specifics of bill

HME News - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 09:52
06/01/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – The Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America has appealed to lawmakers to tweak a bill in the House of Representatives, as well as a companion bill being considered in the Senate, that seeks to improve the provision of automobiles and adaptive equipment by Veterans Affairs.

In a May 19 letter to the chairman of the Senate’s Committee of Veterans Affairs, the group said the bill, H.R. 3471: “needs a more robust conflict-of-interest provision related to the use of a third-party certification organization for the new safety standards.”

The Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America says the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association drafted the bill as part of its campaign to become designated as the VA’s third-party certification organization.

That’s unfair, the Independent Auto Life Dealers of America says, because NMEDA is dominated by three large national chains.

“We need the Senate to amend this legislation to prohibit an organizations from being a certifying body if it is comprised of members that engage in the same commercial activities as other companies that would have to seek certification,” the letter states. “There are plenty of independent and neutral third-party organizations that could certify compliance with new standards, in addition to the manufacturers.”

The Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America also says the bill should be tweaked to better differentiate between simple and complex modifications to ensure that exterior lifts that don’t affect the operation of or alter the structure of the vehicle may continue to be installed at home.

“Under current law, the vast majority of these lifts are installed in the driveway of the veteran’s home in as little as 30 minutes, as opposed to an equipment dealer’s place of business, which is far more convenient for veterans and their families,” the letter states. “These driveway installations are completed by our installers that have been trained and certified by the manufacturers of the equipment.”

CQRC: Slow down bid program

HME News - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 10:12
05/31/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – The Council for Quality Respiratory Care says the findings of a recent Office of Inspector General report further demonstrate the need to slow down the national rollout of Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

“Federal policymakers should carefully evaluate the risk for implementing cuts too fast and take measures to ensure access to quality patient care is prioritized and protected,” said Dan Starck, chairman of the CQRC, a coalition of home respiratory therapy providers and manufacturers. “We know that high quality home respiratory care keeps patients at home and out of emergency rooms, hospitals and other institutional care settings.”

Medicare is poised to implement a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas on July 1. The first round of cuts—25%, on average—went into effect Jan. 1.

The OIG found that 43% of the 146 providers they audited had not met state licensure requirements for at least some of the competitive bidding contracts they received. Additionally, it was unclear whether or not an additional 14 providers, or 9.6%, met the requirements.

“Considering that nearly half of the suppliers that were awarded contracts had not met basic state licensure requirements, we have significant concerns with the integrity of the competitive bidding rate setting process,” Starck said. “The fact that unqualified suppliers’ bids were used to set rates means that the current rates are not correct, and applying them to non-competitive bidding areas could create serious problems.”

Industry stakeholders have bills in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to delay the implementation of the second round of cuts until at least Oct. 1, 2017.

Industry appeals for ‘common sense’

HME News - Fri, 05/27/2016 - 10:23
05/27/2016Liz Beaulieu

WASHINGTON – With precious few Congressional days left to stave off an upcoming second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts, the sense of urgency at the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference on Wednesday was palpable.

John Letizia, the chairman of the board of the association, set the tone for the event in his opening remarks when he said of the event’s more than 200 scheduled Hill visits, “Good luck and let’s give them hell.”

Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the association, followed up later in the day with, “Be outraged. The standard of care is changing. We’ve got to get this done.”

HME providers face an additional cut of 25%, on average, in non-bid areas on July 1. A previous cut of 25% already went into effect on Jan. 1.

The stakes are high. A panel of rural providers discussed in grim terms the impact of the first round of cuts on their businesses and their ability to care for patients.

“I’ve always said (to the owner of my company), ‘I’ve got this,’” said Cathy Hamilton, CFO at Coastal Med Tech in Ellsworth, Maine. “I’ve no longer got this.”

Pat Naeger agreed.

“For the first time in my adult life, I’m scared as hell and I’m mad as hell,” said Naeger, president of Healthcare Equipment & Supply Co. in Perryville, Mo. “We’re teetering on the edge.”

Just in time, the industry now has on its side a new OIG report criticizing the bid program and 75 consumer groups. The event’s keynote speaker, Peter Thomas, a healthcare attorney who coordinates policy for the ITEM Coalition, told attendees that the group voted that week to authorize a letter supporting bills in the House of Representatives and Senate to push back the second round of cuts to at least Oct. 1, 2017.

“Take the letter and use it,” he said. “Tell (lawmakers), ‘It isn’t just us.’”

One lawmaker that doesn’t need convincing is Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. She has connected the dots that reduced spending for DME will only result in increased spending for acute care.

“If you want to save money, keep patients out of the emergency room—it’s that basic,” said Ellmers, a former nurse, to a round of applause. “It’s common sense.”

ALJ wait time increases

HME News - Fri, 05/27/2016 - 10:20
OMHA, C2C pick away at backlog, but still no ‘broad relief’05/27/2016Theresa Flaherty

WASHINGTON – The wait time for an Administrative Law Judge hearing keeps growing—a symptom of ongoing problems with the audit process, say industry attorneys.

“I don’t think the problem lies in appeals,” said Ross Burris, an attorney in the Atlanta office of Polsinelli. “The problem lies lower down, either with audits that are too broad, or MACs that are just rubberstamping what the audit contractors are doing.”

In the first quarter of 2016, the wait was 796 days. By the second quarter, it was 861 days—a 30% increase over the same period last year, when the wait was 661 days, according to a recent update from AAHomecare.

The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals has taken some steps to reduce the backlog. A settlement conference pilot project brings the provider and CMS together with a facilitator to try and work out a settlement.Although the pilot was tweaked in October, the bar—such as having a minimum of 20 claims or $10,000 at issue—remains too high for most HME providers, say stakeholders.

“I think OMHA is doing everything it can,” said Burris. “I think they have tried to increase the number of judges hearing appeals, and I think they’ve tired to come up within solutions within their small realm of power.”

Another demonstration project, launched early this year by C2C Innovative Solutions, the Qualified Independent Contractor for the second level of appeals, allows HME providers to discuss denials over the phone before a decision is made.

“These are steps in the right direction, but there’s so many suppliers and so many claims that have been audited,” said Stephanie Morgan Greene, chief consulting officer & general counsel for Acu-Serve. “You just don’t feel a broad sense of relief across the board.”

While long wait times have not deterred most providers from appealing claims to the ALJ, they have forced them to take a harder look at the reasons for denials.

“There have been so many denials for technical reasons that people want to go to the ALJ,” said Greene. “But they are also looking at what they need to fix, what trends they are seeing in denials, and truly attempting to fix things from the front-end processes.”

Insulin pump decision could have chilling effect

HME News - Fri, 05/27/2016 - 10:17
By Theresa Flaherty, Managing Editor05/27/2016Theresa Flaherty

YARMOUTH, Maine – UnitedHealthcare’s recent decision to only cover insulin pumps provided by Medtronic is bad news all around, say industry stakeholders.

In May, the insurance giant announced it had inked an agreement with the medical device maker to serve as exclusive provider of insulin pumps to its members.

“To take away beneficiary choice over economics is not a good thing,” said Dan Gooch, owner of Pal-Med in Columbia, S.C., which offers pumps from Medtronic, Animas and Tandem. “I think we are going to see more and more of that, and more and more of the niche DME companies making a deal for a little better pricing for exclusive access to those lives that are insured.”

UnitedHealthcare contracts directly with more than 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide.

Smaller providers, like the Diabetic Shoppe in Charleston, Miss., already struggle to compete because they lack buying power.

“We could hardly do Medtronic to begin with,” said Peyton Brown, vice president. “It cost us more than what we were reimbursed. We had a couple of patients where we just had to eat it to keep the physician referring to us.”

Although preferred provider and product agreements are nothing new— particularly for diabetes supplies—applying a one-size-fits-all solution simply doesn’t work, especially for insulin pumps, say providers.

“It’s a personal choice,” said Gooch. “There are pumps that contain difference size insulin cartridges. A diabetic that is on a large amount of insulin would be changing their cartridges so frequently they wouldn’t want to use that particular pump.”

That, in turn, leads to worse outcomes for patients and higher costs for the healthcare system, advocates say.

“We have insurance companies screaming that patients aren’t compliant, and then they take away their determination to use the best product for their lifestyle,” said Bennet Dunlap, president of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. “We customize how we approach technology in our daily lives, and if that gets people to use their pump more efficiently, that’s the outcome we are looking for.”

Ultimately, curtailing access to smaller medical device makers could have a chilling effect on innovation, says Bennet.

“Innovation comes from building a better mousetrap,” he said. “I think people are concerned this is going to have ramifications for CGMs, for glucometers and for other iterations of diabetes technology.”

In brief: AAH, VGM coordinate advocacy efforts, KCI fights back

HME News - Fri, 05/27/2016 - 10:12
05/27/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare and The VGM Group will merge their respective consumer advocacy groups into one industry wide platform.

Per the merger, AAHomecare’s Save My Medical Supplies and VGM’s People for Quality Care will combine under the PFQC brand.

“This coordinated, collaborative effort builds upon our past successes, while streamlining advocacy efforts to maximize impact,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.

The groups aim to use their collective influence and resources to better reach, educate and engage consumers who have been negatively impacted by poor healthcare policies, and to share their messages with Congress.

AAHomecare officially launched Save My Medical Supplies with a website, and Facebook and Twitter pages in April 2014. Among its accomplishments: A campaign that generated more than 5,500 letters in 90 days asking Congress to reform harmful Medicare policies.

PFQC, launched by VGM in 2010, has been behind a number of initiatives aimed at fighting these policies, including a “Dear Medicare” website featuring stories of seniors and people with disabilities who are being negatively impacted; an interactive map with data on beneficiary complaints across the country; and a “Faces Behind the Red Tape” online video series specifically documenting the impact of audits on beneficiaries.

KCI fights CMS’s decision

SAN ANTONIO – KCI may have not been awarded contracts for negative pressure wound therapy as part of the Round 2 re-compete of competitive bidding, but it’s not going down without a fight.

KCI, the largest provider of NPWT, says CMS’s decision to not award contracts to the company was based on a technical disqualification that it is working to resolve.

“CMS’s decision is not final and we are working with CMS and the agency’s contractor, CBIC, to resolve the eligibility issue,” it stated in a May 19 letter to customers. “We expect to be able to share more information in the coming weeks.”

KCI did not elaborate on the technical disqualification.

The company is also exploring “alternative pathways” to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have continued access to its V.A.C. Therapy in affected areas if it is, ultimately, not awarded contracts, it stated in the letter.

KCI received about $77.1 million from Medicare for NPWT pumps (E2404) in 2014, according to the HME Databank. Total Medicare spending on that code was about $88.5 million that year.

Providers get relief from WOPD requirement

WASHINGTON – The DME MACs have clarified that a provider must obtain a five-element order prior to delivering equipment and a detailed written order prior to billing, according to AAHomecare. “Note the change to allow a DWO to be obtained before billing,” the association stated. AAHomecare then requested clarification on the denials and appeals currently in the system based on previous guidance that a WOPD does not meet the DWOPD requirement. The response from the MACs: “Changes in policy guidance are effective for dates of service on or after the article’s publication unless otherwise specified in that article.” AAHomecare’s take: “This would mean that the appeals process needs to be used for any claim previously denied.” Overall, the association says, “This development is good news for the HME community and provides some relief related to WOPD requirements.”

NFIB steps forward in support of H.R. 5210

WASHINGTON – The National Federation of Independent Business has written a letter in support of H.R. 5210, a bill that would delay the second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts scheduled for July 1. “This legislation…is critical to providing the certainty necessary for America’s small suppliers and providers to continue to meet the needs of the communities who depend on their services,” the letter states. The NFIB is a non-profit organization that represents 325,000 small and independent business owners nationwide. In April, NFIB wrote a similar letter in support of S. 2736.

Sleep group asks Oklahoma to reconsider CPAP coverage

OKLAHOMA CITY – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is urging the Oklahoma Medicaid program to reinstate coverage for sleep studies and CPAP devices for adult patients. Although the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has indicated it recognizes the benefits of sleep therapy, it cited a severe budget crisis in its decision to eliminate coverage for what it considers “optional” services, according to a press release from AASM. “These cuts will lead to increased medical expenses over time because they make it impossible to diagnose and effectively treat Medicaid patients who have obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder, and central sleep apnea,” said Vikas Jain, MD, a board-certified sleep medicine physician who practices in Oklahoma City, in the release.

NSM buys Wolf Medical

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility, which has been put up for sale by its private equity firm owner, has acquired Wolf Medical, a Rome, Ga.-based provider of complex rehab and customized mobility products. Wolf Medical’s six-person staff, including owner and ATP Gary Quellet, will join NSM. “It has gotten harder and harder over the years for us to help people and to get their feedback,” he said in a press release. “Being part of NSM will give all of us the support and resources we need to get into the community and do what we do best.” Also on staff: another experienced ATP, two service technicians, a processor and a customer service representative. With Wolf Medical’s presence in North Georgia, NSM will be able to further grow its presence in the mid-South, according to the release. It will continue to operate out of Wolf Medical’s location.

ResMed announces positive results from study

FLORENCE, Italy – A new study shows adaptive servo-ventilation therapy results in significant improvement in the primary endpoint for people with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction who have sleep disordered breathing, ResMed has announced. “These results are important because they are the first to show that addressing sleep-disordered breathing with ASV therapy may improve cardiovascular outcomes for people with preserved ejection fraction heart failure,” said Glenn Richards, ResMed’s chief medical officer. The results of this second-phase trial were presented by Christopher O’Connor, M.D., the investigator of the study and CEO and executive director of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, at the European Society of Cardiology’s 2016 Annual Heart Failure Congress on May 22. The multi-center, randomized controlled trial assessed whether the treatment of moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing with adaptive servo-ventilation therapy could improve cardiovascular outcomes in patients who were hospitalized for a sudden worsening of their heart failure symptoms over six months. The overall study results were neutral, but an analysis showed statistically significant improvement in this pre-specified subgroup.

Universal Software Solutions has ‘direct connection’ with McKesson

DAVISON, Mich. – Universal Software Solutions has added a new product availability feature, streamlining ordering for HME providers. The VendorLink companion to its HDMS allows providers to quickly place orders with McKesson Medical-Surgical, decreasing handling and warehousing costs, and eliminating re-keying and data entry orders, the software vendor says in a press release. “This new integration is a direct connection into the McKesson information system and provides instant information for the user to make decisions faster,” said Christopher Dobiesz, president of Universal Software Solutions. Specifically, the integration provides a real-time “quality on hand” option, telling the provider the status of each product, the inventory levels and the quoted ricing. The VendorLink companion is available to any provider engaged with McKesson and its drop-shop program.

Wheel:Life gets in the zone

CHICAGO – Wheel:Life will act as a facilitator at the new “Abilities Meet Up Zone” at the Chicago Abilities Expo June 24-26. “In the tradition of a town square, the zone will be a dedicated area on the show floor where attendees can engage with their peers, experience the Expo more fully, and enjoy deeper connections as they learn from and share with exhibitors and other experts in the vibrant disability community,” Wheel:Life states in a press release. Lisa Wells, founder of Wheel:Life, and her team will act as facilitators, making introductions, sparking conversations and getting like-minded people to share experiences. The zone will include a photo booth area for people to take their pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #AbilitiesChicago.

3B Medical, Somnoware partner up

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – 3B Medical and Somnoware will integrate to allow enhanced sharing of compliance data, and to offer the ability to customize activities/alerts based on compliance and diagnostic data. With a comprehensive view of 3B Medical's sleep data and a single point of access to patient information in one unified platform, providers can use Somnoware’s analytics to easily achieve the detailed outcome measurement and reporting required. The integration project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

PHS employee retires on high note

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Sandi Maguire, the former managing director of home care nursing for Pediatric Home Service, has been honored as Minnesota’s Home Care Person of the year. Maguire, who retired May 13, has been with PHS since its inception in 1990. “Sandi has played an integral role in making home care what it is today in the state of Minnesota,” said PHS President Mark Hamman. “Her involvement from the very early days of home care, when it was rarely even considered an option, helped to make PHS the innovative company it is and continues to be today.”

Ombudsman to hold roundtable

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. – The Office of the National Ombudsman will host a roundtable here on June 3 to give small business owners a chance to speak about regulatory issues, like competitive bidding, that have had a negative impact. A similar roundtable was held in March in Cheyenne, Wyo. The roundtable is free but registration is required, and seating is limited.

Short takes: Benzer, National Sleep, DMERX, Munson

Benzer Pharmacyhas launched www.benezermedicalequipment.com to offer convenience for customers. The Tampa, Fla.-based pharmacy’s offerings include aids to daily living, back and neck therapy, beds and accessories, diabetes care and wheelchair accessories…National Sleep & Respiratory has become an in-network provider with Tufts Health Plan. The Concord, N.H.-based provider holds competitive bidding contracts for respiratory products that will allow it to service Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine…PMDRX has changed its name to DMERX to reflect its expanded exam and documentation offerings. The Glendale, Ariz.-based company has also added an orthotic exam and documentation component…Munson Home Medical Equipment will hold a grand opening at its new location in Cadillac, Mich., on June 7. The provider will offer a variety of HME, including beds, wheelchairs, oxygen equipment, CPAP devices and more.

OIG report finds some contract suppliers did not meet all licensure requirements

HME News - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:01
05/26/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – A significant chunk of Round 2 contract suppliers did not meet all licensure requirements, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

“Of the 146 suppliers covered in our audit, 69 suppliers met licensure requirements,’ stated the OIG. “However, 63 suppliers did not meet licensure requirements for some of the competitions for which they received a contract.”

An additional 14 suppliers need further research to determine whether they met licensure requirements, the agency said.

The OIG reviewed documentation for contract suppliers in 50 CBAs in 11 states: Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland, Louisiana, Virginia, New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Mississippi. The documentation was obtained from CMS, the National Supplier Clearinghouse and the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractorregarding the processes used to ensure that contract suppliersmet licensure requirements.

Round 2 of the competitive bidding program kicked off July 1, 2013 and will end on June 30.

Stakeholders have said they hope that lessons have been learned in the wake of the Round 2 licensure debacle, which led may states to implement licensure laws to limit low-ball bids from out-of-state companies that have no intention of servicing the contracts.

The OIG states that the licensure database CMS used when awarding Round 2 contracts was incomplete. The agency recommended that CMS (1) complete the research required to determine whether 14 suppliers had a proper license and make a licensure determination regarding those suppliers; (2) identify all applicable state licensure requirements to prevent suppliers that do not have all currently required licenses from receiving contracts in future rounds of the competitive bidding program; and (3) work with state licensing boards to better coordinate, identify, and maintain an accurate and complete licensure database of currently required State licenses. CMS concurred and discussed steps it had and will take regarding the first two recommendations. CMS did not concur with the OIG's third recommendation.

AAH, VGM coordinate advocacy efforts

HME News - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 09:51
05/24/2016HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare and The VGM Group will merge their respective consumer advocacy groups into one industry wide platform.

Per the merger, AAHomecare’s Save My Medical Supplies and VGM’s People for Quality Care will combine under the PFQC brand.

“This coordinated, collaborative effort builds upon our past successes, while streamlining advocacy efforts to maximize impact,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.

The groups aim to use their collective influence and resources to better reach, educate and engage consumers who have been negatively impacted by poor healthcare policies, and to share their messages with Congress.

AAHomecare officially launched Save My Medical Supplies with a website, and Facebook and twitter pages in April 2014. Among its accomplishments: A campaign that generated more than 5,500 letters in 90 days asking Congress to reform harmful Medicare policies.

PFQC, launched by VGM in 2010, has been behind a number of initiatives aimed at fighting these policies, including a “Dear Medicare” website featuring stories of seniors and people with disabilities who are being negatively impacted; an interactive map with data on beneficiary complaints across the country; and a “Faces Behind the Red Tape” online video series specifically documenting the impact of audits on beneficiaries.

Stakeholders criticize shortsighted CMS

HME News - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:45
They say the agency’s data is ‘grossly inadequate’ to assess impact of bid program05/20/2016Theresa Flaherty

WASHINGTON – CMS took too narrow a view when it analyzed the impact of new payment amounts for HME using only one metric, industry stakeholders say.

The agency on May 17 released data comparing the rate of assignment of claims for DMEPOS items for the first four months of 2015, which were paid at the unadjusted fee schedule rates, to the rate of assignment of claims for the same items for the first four months of 2016, which were paid at the new partially adjusted rates. 

“They’ve taken one micro piece of data that doesn’t tell the story,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

On Jan. 1, Medicare began paying for HME in regional and rural areas based on a 50/50 blend of the current fee schedule rates and adjusted rates from its competitive bidding program. On July 1, it will base pricing 100% on adjusted rates.

Other key metrics that should have been included in CMS’s analysis, stakeholders say: the volume of claims submitted, patient outcomes data, and beneficiary complaints. A pair of bills, S. 2736 and H.R. 5120, which would push back the second phase of cuts, include provisions for more comprehensive monitoring of the program to understand its impact.

“CMS has no clue what’s going to happen and they should want to understand the impact,” Bachenheimer said.

As for the data CMS did analyze, stakeholders say the agency neglected to say whether the claims were for date of service or date received, meaning some of the claims for 2016 could have been paid at 2015 rates. The agency also neglected to say whether they included dual-eligibles, for whom providers must accept assignment.

Most important, analyzing only four months of data does not a hard conclusion make, stakeholders say.

“Fourmonths of claims is a ‘grossly inadequate sampling,’” stated AAHomecare in its analysis. “It is not possible to use such limited data and draw expansive conclusions as CMS did.”

The short timeframe also doesn’t take into account the likely possibility that the impact of the cuts hasn’t been fully felt by providers—yet, Bachenheimer says.

“I’d say it takes a business about a year to reconfigure, to go out of business, to downsize,” she said. “It’s not an instantaneous response.”

Stakeholders say they’ll use this latest data from CMS to bolster support for the two bills this week at the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference. The Senate bill has 27 co-sponsors; the House bill, introduced May 12, picked up an additional 15 co-sponsors last week, bringing its total to 59.

Providers appeal for help

HME News - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:43
‘They’ll miss us when we’re gone,’ says Karyn Estrella05/20/2016Theresa Flaherty

PORTLAND, Maine – Providers from around New England took to the podium at a Small Business Administration hearing here last week, giving government officials and lawmakers an eye-opening look at what it’s like to be in the HME business right now.

“I am here today to tell you that CMS's implementation of competitive bidding, capped rentals on home oxygen therapy and ongoing unnecessary audits…is as bad, if not worse, than what is going on with the Veterans Administration,” said Michael McDonald of Clinical 1 Home Medical. “The time has come for Congress to launch an investigation into this program.”

McDonald was one of several HME providers who testified about the impact of competitive bidding and other issues on small businesses at the May 16 regulatory fairness hearing, one of several being held across the country.

McDonald discussed his company’s own experience with the bidding program—“a complete disaster,” he said—and also questioned the impact on patients of a program in which local providers are not awarded contracts.

“How in the world is a company in Florida going to provide same day delivery to Mass General Hospital on a Friday afternoon?” he said.

Providers also testified on burdensome documentation requirements and excessive audits. Provider Darryl Coplan typically appeals audits at great time and expense to his company, but he always comes out on top.

“We feel honored when we win, but it takes two-and-half years,” said Coplan, of Keene Medical. “How can companies survive when the government holds their money for that long?”

One of the board members asked how most auditors get paid. Upon hearing that they are paid a percentage of the money they recoup, a shockwave—and a few low whistles—rippled through the audience, which included staffers from several lawmakers’ offices, including Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Perhaps some of the most powerful testimony of the afternoon came from Dr. Susan Bergman, a Massachusetts physician, who shared the stories of three patients who died either while waiting for necessary equipment or because Medicare coverage guidelines imposed limits. One of those patients: a 46-year-old triplegic who suffered two bouts of sepsis and ended up on life support.

“He needed to change his catheter every two weeks to avoid infections, but Medicare would allow only one per month,” she told the board. “His hospital expenses were well over $1 million.”

Board members asked how much a catheter costs and upon learning it was typically less than $2, one said,

“So for the cost of a few trips to Starbucks, (this could have all been avoided).”

At the hearing’s close, SBA Ombudsman Admiral Earl Gay referenced recent hearings in the Dakotas, as well as a roundtable in Cheyenne, Wyo.

“We need to continue to ask (lawmakers) to initiate legislative resolutions to these issues,” he said.

With more than 10,000 people turning 65 every day, there’s no time to waste, said Karyn Estrella, executive director of the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England.

“If CMS thinks it is paying too much for home medical equipment now, wait until there is a shortage of providers,” she said. “They’ll miss us when we’re gone.”

 

ResMed connects vents to the cloud

HME News - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:41
‘It’s about time,’ says one HME provider05/20/2016Liz Beaulieu

SAN DIEGO – With Medicare stepping up scrutiny for vents, ResMed believes it has a way to keep them a viable business for HME providers.

The company on May 16 announced plans to bring cloud connectivity and its remote patient monitoring software, AirView, to its Astral vents later this year.

“The whole industry is watching to see how the guidance for vents is changing,” said Jeremy Malecha, vice president of project management for the Global Healthcare Informatics business unit. “Part of our goal at ResMed is to make providers more efficient and effective, so they can stay ahead of the curve.”

The company says AirView helps improve operations by allowing providers to download data from vents remotely, reducing the need for home visits. Providers can also use the software to identify patients who are doing well with their therapies and those who aren’t, allowing them to better allocate resources.

ResMed has already brought AirView to bear for CPAP devices, products for which providers now have to prove compliance and for which competitive bidding has drastically reduced reimbursement.

“All of a sudden, you had to put more work in to get objective data, only to get paid less money,” Malecha said. “The only way you could then efficiently and effectively manage that population was by leveraging technology.”

ResMed expects tying its vents to AirView could add thousands of patients to the 2.5 million already being monitored by software.

“There has been a really strong appetite for it with sleep therapy, and one of the questions that we’ve gotten along the way is, ‘When are you going to have this for vents?’” Malecha said.

That pretty much sums it up for provider Gregory LoPresti.

“My comment is, ‘It’s about time,’” said LoPresti, senior vice president and CEO at Upstate HomeCare in Clinton, N.Y., which provides both sleep and vent therapy, and uses AirView for the former. “My only frustration has been, it’s not happening soon enough.”

ResMed next has its sights on bringing remote patient monitoring capabilities to portable oxygen concentrators. It bought Inova Labs, a maker of POCs, earlier this year.

“That’s something we’ve been open about, but there’s no specific timeframe,” Malecha said. “We push technology in everything we do, and we’re doing it as fast as we can.”

Ultimately, with CPAP devices, vents and POCs all tied to AirView, ResMed offers providers a way to streamline care, especially for patients with more complex and varying diseases states.

“It’s getting a complete picture of what’s going on with that patient, so you know where to focus your resources at the right time to get the better outcome,” Malecha said.

The relationship builder

HME News - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:39
Laura Williard will help AAHomecare ramp up resources for managed care market05/20/2016Liz Beaulieu

WASHINGTON – What’s the key to HME providers thriving in the managed care market? Relationship building, says Laura Williard, who was named last week to a new position at AAHomecare, senior director of payer relations.

“I’ve built relationships with a lot of these payers,” said Williard, currently the senior director of regulatory affairs and contracting for Greensboro, N.C.-based Advanced Home Care. “Once you have those relationships, you can get in and talk with them about collaborative solutions, and it’s easier to work with them.”

Here’s what Williard, who is also involved with the state associations in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, had to say about how she plans to help providers make inroads into this growing, but sometimes elusive, market.

HME News: How has your experience at Advanced Home Care prepared you for this larger role at AAHomecare?

Laura Williard: When I first started at Advanced 24 years ago, we were 65%-70% Medicare, and 30%-35% Medicaid and managed care. We’ve essentially flipped that. Most of that growth has been in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid HMO plans.

HME: What should be the foundation of the relationship between providers and managed care organizations?

Williard: Data. It’s important when you’re dealing with these payers that you show your value and your worth.  What are the outcomes and volume of services you provide for their patients. If they’re considering cuts, what are other areas where you can eliminate cost out of providing the service. For example, you can go to them and say, “Let’s talk about the prior authorization process.” How much unnecessary cost is there for the payer and the provider in the operational processes? If you cut the cost of providing the service, it can minimize some of the impact of rate cuts.

HME: What are some of the challenges of the managed care market?
Williard: They often interpret the rules their own way. A recent example of that is a payer denying a detailed description because it just included the HCPCS code and description. The DME MACs have been passing those, but with this payer, it has taken three levels of appeals to get it overturned. The MACs pretty much interpret and audit the same way, so there’s some semblance of consistency. We want some of that to spread out to Medicare Advantage.

HME: What are some of the benefits?

Williard: You have the ability to talk to someone and negotiate with them on a smaller level. With Medicare, you’re fighting a huge battle. With managed care, there can be more flexibility.

HME: What does it say that AAHomecare has developed a position specifically to focus on the managed care market?

Williard: I think it shows a commitment to the industry. It shows it’s looking beyond Medicare. AAHomecare is trying to broaden the resources for providers to make the industry stronger.

In brief: NSM up for sale, provider blames cuts for closures

HME News - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:35
05/20/2016HME News Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Wellspring Capital Management is shopping for a buyer for National Seating & Mobility, according to news reports last week.

The private equity firm has hired Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm offering M&A services, to find a buyer for the complex rehab provider, which it says could be worth $400 million, according to an item on Fortune.com citing The Wall Street Journal.

Wellspring Capital acquired NSM in early 2013. At the time, the provider had 68 branches located across 30 states.

Since then, NSM has rolled up dozens of mobility providers, including, most recently the complex rehab division of Webb Medical Systems in Reading and Allentown, Pa., in February, and Home Medical Equipment in Garden City, N.Y., last November.

NSM has also thrown its hat into the home accessibility market, launching AccessNSM in October. AccessNSM offers stair lifts, wheelchair lifts, ramps, door openers and barrier-free showers through seven locations from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Bill Mixon took over the reins as CEO of NSM from founder Mike Ballard in July 2015.

Home Health United closes four retail stores

MADISON, Wis. – Home Health United-Home Medical Equipment blames recent changes in Medicare reimbursement rates for its decision to close retail stores in Johnson Creek, Platteville, Portage and St. Mary’s Hospital. The provider will continue to provide these communities with HME, as well as home health, hospice and palliative care, but it will no longer have retail storefronts as of May 20. “Suppliers of home medical equipment across the country are dealing with the challenge of how to provide high quality products and services at severely reduced reimbursement rates,” the company says on its website. “These reductions have necessitated many changes in the way in which Home Health United provides equipment to patients and referral sources. Unfortunately, to manage these cuts, we have been forced to make some difficult decisions.” The company still has retail locations in Baraboo, Janesville, Madison West, Prairie du Sac and Reedsburg.

Caire launches program to help with cash flow

BALL GROUND, Ga. – Caire, a Chart Industries company, has launched a new program to help HME providers in today’s challenging reimbursement environment. As part of the Caire Cash Flow Management Program, providers can purchase a complete oxygen setup for $54 per month for 36 months with free shipping. “We understand the challenges that the industry faces and we have created a program that helps our provider partners address some of the challenges stemming from national competitive bidding,” said George Coppola, director of marketing at Caire. The package includes the AirSep, FreeStyle and Caire Companion 5 oxygen concentrators, all with a three-year warranty. A FreeStyle and Companion bundle gives providers a complete setup for a monthly cost well below the declining reimbursement rates for E1390 and E1392, Coppola says. “Providers can switch to a non-delivery modality to eliminate expensive cylinder deliveries, or upgrade their existing non-delivery fleet with new inventory,” he said.

VGM broadens financing options

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM and Associates and Whitebridge Financial have forged a partnership to provide VGM members with better access to financing options. Per the partnership, Whitebridge will offer VGM’s more than 3,000 members nationwide a variety of flexible financing options to meet their diverse needs, with the goal of becoming their “one-stop shop.” “We are constantly looking for better ways to help our members provide easier access to the products their customers need to improve their quality of life,” said Clint Geffert, president of VGM and Associates. Whitebridge Financial, in business since 2010, approves a wider range of credit profiles by going “deeper into the credit spectrum,” generating higher acceptance rates, according to a press release. Its customers do business in a variety of markets, including health care, outdoor living, vacation and bedding.

GF hits refresh on Basic American

ATLANTA – GF Health Products has launched a new brand identity for its Basic American Products. The rebrand includes a new logo, and updated marketing materials and educational resources. “The new brand identity reflects our commitment to ongoing innovation, and re-stamps the hallmark of our legacy in quality and leadership in the extended care industry,” said David Walton, senior vice president. Basic American products are manufactured in U.S.-based manufacturing plants. The company also has a 10,000-square-foot showroom and educational center in Atlanta.

Study: Not all oximeters are equal

MINNEAPOLIS – Nonin Medical this week announced the results of an independent study that demonstrates its PureSAT pulse ox technology captures and reports deteriorating patient conditions better than other brands. Boulder, Colo.-based Clinimark Laboratories tested three oximeters: one from Nonin and two from other, large manufacturers. Two of them did not provide the clinical accuracy required to track desaturations in patients with low blood circulation and labored breathing, according to a press release. “Over the years, a number of inexpensive, imported FDA-cleared oximeters have flooded the market, all claiming to be accurate,” said Jim Russell, vice president of quaIity, regulatory and clinical affairs for Nonin Medical. “This study dispels the myth that all pulse oximeters perform alike, especially on challenging patients such as those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The findings were published in a white paper at the American Thoracic Society and American Telemedicine Conferences this week.

Short takes: Hollister, NCAMES

Hollisterhas hired medical device veteran Carolin Archibald as vice president, U.S. and Canada, to lead the company’s ostomy, continence care and critical care businesses. In this newly created position, Archibald will also oversee the company’s Secure Start services and key accounts organizations in the U.S. and Canada. She was most recently president of Medela in the U.S., where she led more than 700 employees in sales, marketing, business development, R&D, operations, quality management, regulatory affairs, finance, IT and HR…NCAMES has launched a new website. It’s the same URL, www.ncames.org, with a new look. The website is powered by ARI Network Services, a gold sponsor of the association for 2016.

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