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  1. 07/21/2017
    HME News Staff

    READING, United Kingdom – ConvaTec, a global medical products company, has agreed to pay nearly $121 million for Woodbury Holdings, a distributor of incontinence and catheter supplies.

    The Floral Park, N.Y.-based Woodbury offers a portfolio of more than 500 incontinence and 650 catheter products, and a wide array of nutritional, enteral feeding and vascular compression products through subsidiaries Woodbury Health Products and Wilmington Medical Supply.

    "ConvaTec and Woodbury share a common commitment to improving the lives of people with continence issues and a dedication to providing quality products, together with distinctive service and personal support,” said Paul Moraviec, CEO of ConvaTec, in a press release. “We look forward to working with our Woodbury colleagues to bring our comprehensive end-to-end suite of services to even more customers."

    With this acquisition, ConvaTec Americas will create a new distribution unit for catheter- and incontinence-related products, comprising the U.S. distribution companies of 180 Medical, Symbius Medical, South Shore Medical Supply, Wilmington Medical Supply and Woodbury Health Products.

    The deal is the latest in a recent string of manufacturers acquiring disposable medical supplies companies. In 2016, Coloplast paid $160 million for Comfort Medical; and Domtar acquired Home Delivery Incontinence Supplies for $45 million.

    In October 2016, ConvaTec raised nearly $1.8 billion in an initial public offering, according to news reports. ConvaTec is owned by private equity firms Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners, which acquired the company in 2008 for $4.1 billion.

  2. Although bid program already requires protections, they are not readily enforced
    07/20/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Tom Reed, R-N.Y., have introduced a bill to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to their preferred brand of diabetes supplies.

    “The Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act,” H.R. 3271, would strengthen protections requiring mail-order contract suppliers to include at least 50% of the types of testing supplies that were available before the implementation of the competitive bidding program. It would also prohibit suppliers from encouraging beneficiaries to switch brands. 

    “At a time when Medicare and American health care in general are topics of contentious discussions in Washington and across the country, this bipartisan effort is something everyone can support,” said DeGette in a press release. “It will ensure that seniors who have diabetes are able to get quality test strips that are compatible with their glucose monitors. Diabetic patients often rely on test strips to read glucose levels accurately and dose medication appropriately. By making sure seniors can get test strips that work, this bill will deliver better health outcomes for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.”

    Although the bid program already requires protections, they are not readily enforced. A 2016 reportfrom the Office of Inspector General found that two brands of test strips account for half of the mail-order market.

    DeGette, along with Reed, is co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus.

    A similar billwas introduced in the Senate in the last session.

  3. Health and Human Services calls move ‘premature’
    07/19/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – The Government Accountability Office has recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services evaluates the possible costs and savings of using disposable devices as substitutes for DME and, if appropriate, seek legislative authority to cover them.

    While Medicare generally doesn’t cover disposable devices, the GAO identified eight such devices that could potentially substitute for DME devices that are covered. These disposable devices fall into existing Medicare DME categories: infusion pumps, including insulin pumps; blood glucose monitors; sleep apnea devices; and nebulizers.

    The GAO’s recommendation is the result of a report examining (1) potential disposable DME substitutes and their possible benefits and limitations; (2) the incentives and disincentives stakeholders identified for developing these substitutes, including the possible influence of health insurance coverage; and (3) issues related to benefit category designation, including legal authority and potential payment methodologies if Medicare coverage were expanded to include disposable DME substitutes.

    In addressing issues related to benefit category designation, the GAO identified three possible options for covering disposable devices: an expansion of the current DME benefit, an expansion of the current home health benefit, or the establishment of a new benefit category.

    Under the current DME benefit, disposable devices are not covered because they don’t meet CMS’s regulatory definition for “durable”: able to withstand repeated use, with an expected lifetime of at least three years.

    To conduct the report, the GAO reviewed agency documents and literature on disposable DME substitutes and Medicare payment policy; interviewed CMS officials; and interviewed various stakeholders, including representatives of device manufacturers, beneficiary advocates, healthcare providers and insurers for their perspectives.
    In response to the report, HHS said it was premature to evaluate disposable devices as substitutes for DME.

  4. 07/14/2017
    HME News Staff

    WASHINGTON – Tricare, the healthcare program for uniformed services members and their families, will also adjust payments from June through December 2016 per a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act, according to AAHomecare.

    The provision in the Cures Act requires Medicare to retroactively delay a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from July 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017, allowing providers to recoupa portion of six months worth of payments.

    In a letter responding to HME providers who inquired about whether Tricare, which bases its payments on Medicare’s payments, would also make adjustments, Tricare stated: “You are correct TRICARE uses Medicare’s DMEPOS fee schedule, Medicare reduced their rates in the second half of 2016, and a subsequent resolution (the 21st Century Cures Act) delayed that reduction, and retained the original, higher rates for claims with dates of service between July 1 and December 31, 2016.  TRICARE followed suit and we suggest you resubmit any claims adjudicated under the reduced rates to the Managed Care Support Contractor (MCSC) in your region for reprocessing.”

    In response to the news, Laura Williard, vice president of payer relations for AAHomecare, advises providers to submit a small batch of claims to ensure they are processed correctly before submitting all claims.

    Williard also advises providers who have not already done so to submit similar letters inquiring about the adjustments in case they are questioned by the contractors administering Tricare contracts.

    The news culminates six months of work by Williard and AAHomecare on this issue. They reached out to Tricare and its contractors, marshaled providers to pressure the program, and even secured legal opinions confirming that Tricare was obligated to follow the Cures provision.

    Hospital HME, DASCO form partnership

    POINT PLEASANT, Ohio – Pleasant Valley Hospital’s HME division has entered into a joint venture with DASCO Home Medical Equipment, the Gallipolis Daily Tribune reports. It will now do business as DASCO-Pleasant Valley Home Medical Equipment and will be jointly owned by the two organizations, the newspaper says. “This partnership will allow DASCO to provide increased access to highly specialized respiratory equipment like home oxygen, non-invasive vent systems and CPAP equipment, while continuing to provide specialty care medical products and equipment to the families in this community,” Rachel Mazur, DASCO CEO, told the newspaper. The staffs of the two organizations are working together to install state-of-the-art business and communication technology to identify and serve the needs of customers. They are also working to further identify, define and implement best practices for clinical and business operations to allow for improved patient outcomes, the newspaper reports. DASCO’s home office is in Westerville, Ohio; it has several branches throughout the state, as well as West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

    SleepQuest buys Grove Medical

    SAN CARLOS, Calif. – SleepQuest, a national provider of care management services for obstructive sleep apnea, has acquired Grove Medical Equipment in Anaheim, Calif. SleepQuest closed on the transaction on June 30 and began serving Grove Medical’s customers on July 1. The acquisition expands SleepQuest’s service base in the Oakland and East Bay areas, and gives OSA patients there access to telehealth- and on-site based services. “This business fits well with our business model and information technology platform,” said Robert Koenigsberg, founder and CEO of SleepQuest. In addition to its main location here, SleepQuest has patient service centers in San Francisco, San Jose and Fresno.

    Lifeway Mobility buys Total Access of New England

    HARTFORD, Conn. – Lifeway Mobility, an accessibility solutions company based here, has acquired Total Access of New England. Total Access will operate as Lifeway Mobility from a new office near Westborough, Mass., and continue to serve the Greater Boston area. Dan Martin, owner of Total Access, will join Lifeway as vice president and will be responsible for the Massachusetts operation. Martin, a certified aging in place specialist, founded Total Access seven years ago in response to requests for access solutions for homes and businesses. Lifeway Mobility serves Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was formed by Paul Bergantino, formerly of Numotion.

    Aeroflow Breastpumps launches insurance-friendly site

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Breastpumps has launched a new website that combines ecommerce with insurance processing, the company said in a press release. Users must fill out a “Qualify through Insurance Form” before being eligible to shop for breast pumps that are covered by their specific insurance plan.The site features breast pumps from top brands like Medela, Spectra, Lansinoh and Evenflo, and offers instructional videos and other resources. “Aeroflow is dedicated to making the transition into motherhood as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for women across the country,” said Jennifer Jordan, Aeroflow’s director of Mom and Baby. “Our new website’s simplified and intuitive design makes shopping for a breast pump easier than ever, without compromising on what we at Aeroflow Breastpumps do best: getting moms access to the medical products they need, both easily and at no extra charge.”

    HME Woman of the Year committee named

    WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has announced the five members of its 2017 HME Woman of the Year Honorary Selection Committee. They are Dr. Kristen Davin, the inaugural HME Woman of the Year, and president and owner of Precision Seating Solutions; Rose Schafhauser, president and owner of Association Management and executive director of MAMES and SWMESA; Quinton Hart, mayor of Waterloo, Iowa; Rick Rector, executive vice president of United Publications, Inc., and publisher of HME News and Home Health Technology News; and Joan Eliasek, president of Extended Care Sales at McKesson Medical-Surgical. The selection committee will review all of the nominations and each submit three semifinalists. Upon reviewing the semifinalists, VGM will select three finalists to attend the awards ceremony on October 24 at Medtrade, where the 2017 HME Woman of the Year will be announced. Nominations are due Aug. 14. www.vgm.com/hmewomanoftheyear.

    AAHomecare, VGM want your data

    The next submission round for AAHomecare’s HME Audit Key opens July 17. Even if you haven't previously participated or have skipped rounds, you can still take part in this round, says the association. The latest results, running through the first quarter of 2017, showed overturn rates of 68% of repository products; 77% for ostomy, urological, wound care and diabetes supplies; and 81% for NPWT devices and supplies. “Please help fight back against a broken audit and appeal system,” says AAHomecare. Registration and participation is free and open to all suppliers at hmeauditkey.org…With HME providers starting to receive Cures payment adjustments from both Noridian and CGS, VGM is asking them to share any issues, including issues with posting in their billing software. FMI: Ronda Buhrmester, ronda.buhrmester@vgm.com, Dan Fedor, dan.fedor@vgm.com.

    Home infusion: Studies highlight benefit of education, inotropic therapy

    Patients have better outcomes when they receive home infusion education before they are discharged from the hospital, according to Option Care data. These patients were less likely to experience disruptions in therapy, go to the emergency room or be readmitted to the hospital, according to a presented by the company at the National Home Infusion Association Annual Conference & Exposition in May. The study compared outcomes of 60 patients who received pre-discharge education vs. 37 patients who did not and found outcomes improved by 20% for the first group. Education included proper handwashing, appropriate care of medication, and how to monitor for signs of infection…Advanced heart failure patients who received home infusion of inotropic therapy have a better quality of life, according to another study from Option Care and presented at the NHIA conference. The study included 88 adult heart failure patients who filled out the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) before the start of inotropic infusion and three months after therapy. There was an 8.65% improvement among all patients. Additionally, there were improvements in shortness of breath (17.13%), hospital stays (17.65%) and medical care costs (20.78%).

    US power soccer team takes second place in World Cup

    KISSIMEE, Fla. – Team USA has taken second place in the 2017 Fédération Internationale of Powerchair Football Association (FIPFA) World Cup in Kissimee, Fla. Team USA was going for its third consecutive World Cup win. “It was a thriller of a game, with the score tied 2-2 until France broke away in the final minutes,” said Wayne Merdinger, executive vice president and general manager of MK Battery, the primary sponsor and official battery of the US Power Soccer Association and TEAM USA. England took third place, defeating Australia. Medtrade attendees had the opportunity to see Team USA in action at last year’s show. “When we saw the team last year at Medtrade 2016, it was obvious that they were an incredibly skilled group,” says Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade. “We at Medtrade are thrilled that Team USA has once again done so well in the World Cup. We offer our sincere congratulations.” 

    CPAP helps keep COPD patients out of hospitals, study shows

    TUCSON, Ariz. – Although PAP therapy is associated with a reduction in hospitalization for COPD patients, more than 92% of patients are not receiving the therapy, according to a recently published study funded by Royal Philips. The retrospective study, led by Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, professor of medicine and interim chief of Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, revealed that only 7.5% of the more than 1.8 million COPD patients analyzed were receiving any form of PAP therapy. Data from the reviewed administrative claims suggest that individuals receiving either BiPAP, CPAP or non-invasive positive pressure ventilation therapy experienced lower hospitalization risk than before therapy initiation, as well as lower hospital risk than those who did not receive any positive airway pressure therapy at all. “Frequent readmissions of COPD patients not only disrupt their quality of life, but are costing our health systems billions,” says Parthasarathy. “This analysis revealed that there is a solution already accessible within our toolbox that can keep patients out of the hospital, but it is significantly underutilized. With improved awareness and implementation of PAP therapy as a treatment for COPD, we can lower the cost burden for health systems while allowing patients to recover in the comfort of their own homes.”

  5. Pilot and its straight stairlift will make big debut at Medtrade
    07/14/2017
    Liz Beaulieu

    CAPE CORAL, Fla. – The stairlift market, one dominated by a few long-time players, now has a new player: Merits Health Products.

    Merits Health has launched a home access division called Pilot and its first product offering is a straight stairlift. It has been manufacturing a similar product for other companies for 19 years.

    “So we’re not new to this market or this product line,” said Chris Blackmore, national director of business and product development for Merits Health. “But at this point, we thought we should have our own division.”

    Merits Health will debut Pilot and the stairlift at Medtrade in October.

    Pilot plans to leverage Merits Health’s existing customer base: The company is best known for its standard manual and power wheelchairs, and a complex rehab division called Avid Rehab, launched in 2015, offers a complex rehab power wheelchair called the Vector.

    “Those companies that we’re offering a stairlift to, we could already be providing them a power wheelchair or a complex rehab chair,” Blackmore said. “We’re offering such a complete line now—no other manufacturer is offering all three of these product lines. We can offer some savings.”

    Merits Health has brought onboard a husband-and-wife team, Andy and Lisa Scothern, to head up Pilot. Previously, they worked at Handicare, which manufactures stairlifts, as well as safe patient handling and bathroom safety products. Blackmore also worked at Handicare before helping Mertis Health launch Avid Rehab.

    “We’ve brought in extremely experienced people,” Blackmore said. “Andy is outstanding in technical knowledge and sales, and Lisa in order intake.”

    Pilot plans to launch a custom curved stair lift in the fourth quarter of this year, another step toward offering “a full line of home accessibility products,” Blackmore says.

    “We’re excited,” he said. “We feel like we can offer feature-rich products at affordable prices.”