WASHINGTON – Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., began circulating a sign-on letter Sept. 19 to put pressure on the Office of Management and Budget to move on a competitive bidding-related interim final rule that’s currently under its review.
“Our champion Cathy McMorris-Rodgers feels that there has been some push back from the OMB and she wants to use some congressional pressure to see if it can help to clear the rule,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “It’s another tool in our bag.”
The still-under-wraps IFR, titled “Durable Medical Equipment Fee Schedule, Adjustment to Resume the Transitional 50/50 Blended Rates to Provider Relief in Non-Competitive Bidding Areas,” has been sitting at the OMB since Aug. 24, according to AAHomecare.
The push back likely has to do with the cost associated with the rule, stakeholders say.
“If it says what we hope it says—that we get rates effective Jan. 1, 2017, that are based on the rates on Jan. 1, 2016—there’s going to be some cost to that,” Ryan said. “They probably need convincing.”
And stakeholders are doing just that. Earlier this month, AAHomecare officials met with OMB officials to share with them the access issues and cost shifting that have occurred since CMS rolled out competitive bidding nationwide on Jan. 1, 2016.
“We talked about the 42% reduction in the number of providers—the infrastructure is crumbling,” Ryan said. “We also talked about how the nationals won’t be a safety net. They’re experiencing the same closures.”
The letter is not just an exercise, stakeholders say: With a strong number of co-signers, it could spur the OMB into action. A similar letter spearheaded by McMorris-Rodgers earlier this year drew 154 co-signers and helped to spur CMS to send the IFR to the OMB.
“These letters are political cover,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “No one in Washington, D.C., wants to be standing on their own branch. It’s important for (OMB Director Mick Mulvaney) to know that, clearly the administration supports it, but also it has bi-partisan support in the House.”
The letter also serves to raise the IFR above the din in a chaotic administration and Congress, stakeholders said.
“To be fair, they have a lot on their plates right now, so this may be a case where the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for the VGM Group. “We want to be the squeaky wheel.”
With the letter circulating only until Sept. 26, there’s a short window to rack up co-signers, stakeholders say.
“It’s no time for the grassroots to sit back,” Ryan said.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., has launched a congressional sign-on letter that asks the Office of Management and Budget to clear a competitive bidding-related interim final rule currently under its review, AAHomecare reports.
In the letter to Director Mick Mulvaney, McMorris-Rodgers specifically asks the OMB to extend the payment rates that were in effect in non-bid areas on Jan. 1, 2016, through the end of 2018.
“We strongly urge you to take quick action and clear this rule to provide relief in (these) areas,” the letter states.
The IFR has been sitting at the OMB since Aug. 24, according to AAHomecare.
The details of the IFR, titled “Durable Medical Equipment Fee Schedule, Adjustment to Resume the Transitional 50/50 Blended Rates to Provider Relief in Non-Competitive Bidding Areas,” are still unknown, but AAHomecare says it could provide “welcome relief.”
“We would expect these higher rates would also help bolster rates from other payers that use the Medicare fee schedule as a guideline for reimbursements,” the association stated in a bulletin to members.
AAHomecare is asking providers to contact their representatives and ask them to sign on to the letter. The deadline for adding signatures: Sept. 26.
It’s not the first time McMorris-Rodgers has stepped up to bat for the HME industry. She also launched a sign-on letter earlier this year that asked CMS to, among other things, provide relief in non-bid areas.
FLINT, Mich. – Diplomat Pharmacy has acquired Focus Rx Pharmacy Services, a specialty and infusion pharmacy with two locations in New York state.
“This partnership opens growth opportunities, especially in the key markets of New York and New Jersey,” said Phil Rielly, vice president of Diplomat and president of Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group. “Focus Rx brings over 15 regional and national payer contracts, boosting Diplomat’s prescription and payer access.”
Focus Rx provides home infusion and specialty prescription management services. It is expected to generate about $47 million in revenue and $3 million in adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2017.
Last year, Diplomat Pharmacy launched Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group, a brand to unite five subsidiaries: American Homecare Federation, At-Home IV Infusion Professional, BioRx, MedPro Rx and XAS Infusion.
Diplomat’s specialty infusion services focus on individuals living with chronic conditions like alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, hemophilia, hereditary angioedema, immune deficiencies, nutritional deficiencies and von Willebrand disease.
YARMOUTH, Maine – Requiring transportation workers to get screened for sleep apnea is a “no brainer,” say respondents to a recent HME Newspoll.
“Anyone who drives on an interstate highway can only hope that the long-haul truckers around them don’t have OSA,” wrote one respondent. “This is a no-brainer question.”
In line with a Trump administration that has pledged to slash regulations, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in August that they would scrap a regulation to require testing for certain commercial drivers and rail workers.
That’s short sighted, say 87% of poll respondents.
“The prevalence of OSA in the general population indicates significant risk factors for professional driers, pilots, heavy equipment operators, etc.,” said Steven DeYoung of Elliot Hospital Home Medical Equipment in Manchester, N.H. “An analysis of accident data by the NTSB (which under-reports sleep reported accidents) shows somnolence as a significant contributor to a high number of accidents with this cohort.”
At the same time, poll respondents say it’s important not to paint too broad a brush.
“I believe that any transportation workers that spends most of their time driving on highways and has signs or symptoms of sleep issues should be screened, but (it shouldn’t be a) carte blanche,” wrote Rich Waltman of HealthCare Plus in Polson, Mont.
Other respondents don’t think a federal regulation, which they worry could be burdensome for drivers and the companies that employ them, is the answer.
“I think that requiring transportation workers to get regular physicals and to be compliant with any subsequent physician orders should be adequate, as long as the physicians don’t rubber stamp the form,” wrote Lori Sears of Active Home Medical Supply in Lapeer, Mich. “Advocate that physicians become more proactive at screening all of their patients for risk factors—don’t single out a single group and force it.”
Fortunately, awareness of sleep disorders is on the rise, say 91% of poll respondents.
“More primary care physicians are screening their patients,” wrote one poll respondent. “And, just as important, as more people are diagnosed and treated, they talk about it with friends and family, as well as via social media and the Internet.”
CLEVELAND – Asheville, N.C.-based Aeroflow Healthcare was named the first-place winner of the HME Excellence Awards at a networking reception last night during the HME News Business Summit in Cleveland.
Columbia, S.C.-based LifeHME took home second place, and Miami-based PediStat took home third place.
“Winning this award is a tremendous accomplishment on a number of levels,” said Rick Rector, publisher of HME News, which sponsors the awards. “It showcases a provider’s loyalty and commitment to their patients and community, and their ability to make smart and creative business decisions in the face of some of the most difficult times in the HME industry. The winners represent the best in the industry.”
All three companies worked their way through an initial application then a finalist application, providing information on their financials, quality control, staffing and community involvement.
For Aeroflow Healthcare, the HME Excellence Award is the third major recognition the company has received in the last month. It has also been recognized as a Great Place to Work for 2017 and has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies.
“This award is a testament to our employees and the level of dedication they show to providing personal, quality care to our patients,” said Casey Hite, CEO of Aeroflow Healthcare. "We take great pride in the work that we do, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team. This award reflects everybody's hard work to help people stay healthy and have access to the medical supplies they need to enjoy life."
The judges for this year’s HME Excellence Awards were Miriam Lieber, an independent consultant; Jonathan Sadock, the managing partner and CEO of Paragon Ventures; and Anna McDevitt, owner of Laboratory Tactical Consulting.