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January 24, 2011 Volume 17, Number 2

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Table of Contents
- Competitive Bidding ‘Antithesis’ of Obama’s Executive Order
- AAHomecare Asks Obama to Review HME Regs
- Living Without the First-Month Purchase Option: 'We're not Thrilled'
- Face-to-Face, Direct Solicitation and PECOS Addressed—or Not—on Open Door
- CMS FAQ 'Defies Logic'
- For Retailers Only: Alliance for Retail Homecare
- Medtrade 2011 Issues Call for Presentations
- From HomeCareMag.com: News You Can Use
- Audax Is New Majority Owner at ATG; CarePoint Expands in Texas; More HME Company News

For more industry news, features and highlights from our latest issue, please visit our Web site at www.homecaremag.com.

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Headline News
Competitive Bidding ‘Antithesis’ of Obama’s Executive Order
WASHINGTON—Could a presidential executive order be the key to revising, if not repealing, the DMEPOS competitive bidding program? The answer could depend on whether or not President Obama is keen on enforcing the order, according to a spokesman for the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness.

“We hope it is a mechanism that can be used. A lot depends on how interested the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] is in following the administration’s new policy,” said Bruce Levinson of the CRE, a watchdog organization that has challenged CMS on its implementation of competitive bidding, as well as its failure to divulge financial requirements for bidders. “And a second part is, how willing is the administration in enforcing the new policy?”

In his Jan.18 executive order and two accompanying memoranda, Obama called on government agencies to “strike the right balance” in regulatory oversight and not placing undue burdens on business.

“This order requires federal agencies [to] ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth,” the president wrote in an opinion piece in the The Wall Street Journal. “And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive …

“I am directing federal agencies to do more to account for—and reduce—the burdens regulations may place on small businesses,” Obama added. “Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way.”

According to the new strategy, regulations must be cost-justified and coordinated, transparent and science-driven. Federal agencies must also consider regulatory approaches that “maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public,” including disclosure of information.

Levinson, whose career is built around scrutinizing government rules and regulations, said of competitive bidding he couldn’t think of any other existing program that is the “absolute antithesis” of the president’s call for flexibility and preserving freedom of choice, not to mention small businesses.

“You’re literally decimating small businesses,” Levinson said of the bidding program. “It’s probably one of the most needlessly job-crushing rules—because of the way it was designed rather than being inherent in the mandatory statute—that I have ever seen. It is excessively burdensome,” he continued, adding that the president’s edict “stresses scientific integrity. This is a scientific discipline, and [CMS’] competitive bidding design fails every test.”

With predictions of thousands of small HME business closures and industry job losses that could reach 100,000 under the bidding program, the president’s action does seem to offer an opening for its review.

“The president’s executive order on regulations … does provide us with an opportunity to bring up competitive bidding and other onerous Medicare regulatory issues with the White House,” said Michael Reinemer, vice president of communications and policy for the American Association for Homecare. “We drafted a letter to President Obama … that outlines some of our concerns and requests a meeting.” (See “AAHomecare Asks Obama to Review HME Regs” in this issue.)

Provider Tom Ryan, president and CEO of Homecare Concepts in Farmingdale, N.Y., was cautious about the possibility the new strategy could effect any change in competitive bidding.

“We continue to try to get clarity on what the costs are to run this program. That is one of the biggest unknowns where there is no transparency,” Ryan said. “Just what does it cost to run the program? They are putting a lot of dollars into administration, and any savings they are talking about should be net of administrative costs.”

The project is also killing business and jobs, he said. “Providers are already beginning to go out of business, so if Obama is truly going to be saying what are the regulatory burdens costing in jobs, we can pretty much say that competitive bidding is costing jobs,” Ryan said. “But, of course, if they just have a one-sided argument and look at the cost savings and not at the net savings, then we are at an unfair disadvantage.”

For his part, the CRE’s Levinson is hopeful the edict will have some impact. The executive order calls for a retrospective analysis of existing rules, he pointed out, and the competitive bidding project would certainly be a candidate for revision or modification.
“It fails the standards set forth in the president’s documents,” he said, noting the CMS program’s lack of transparency, inflexibility, inefficiency and immense burden on small businesses.

“You’re crushing small businesses,” Levinson reiterated, “and, for that matter, some large businesses.” He believes it is up to providers and beneficiaries “to clearly raise CMS’ awareness of the new requirements that the White House is imposing on their regulatory operations.” Then it becomes a question of whether CMS will comply and whether the White House will enforce the order.

As far as the bid program goes, however, it still comes down to Congress, said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare Corp. The executive order is “good for messaging,” she said, “but in the end, CMS is unlikely to change the bidding program without Congress changing the current law.”

Read the executive order, titled "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/18/improving-regulation-and-regulatory-review-executive-order.

Read the president’s opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, titled “Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System,” at online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703396604576088272112103698.html.

Read a CRE commentary on the executive order at www.thecre.com/blog/.


Would you support a redesigned competitive bidding program? To vote in HomeCare's monthly Web poll, visit www.HomeCareMag.com.


AAHomecare Asks Obama to Review HME Regs
WASHINGTON—Following President Barack Obama’s Jan. 18 Executive Order calling on federal agencies to dial down overly costly and burdensome regulations, the American Association for Homecare sent him a letter asking for a review of “onerous and outdated regulations that hamper job creation and threaten access to quality home medical equipment (HME) and services under the Medicare program.”

Titled “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” the order is intended to make regulations less burdensome to business—particularly small business—and solicits examples of problematic regulations.

View the executive order, and read the president’s opinion piece explaining the order in The Wall Street Journal.

In its appeal, AAHomecare asked specifically that the president examine “policies related to competitive bidding for durable medical equipment, respiratory therapy … power mobility devices, diabetes testing equipment and supplies, Medicare audits and anti-fraud and abuse initiatives.”

The full text of the letter, delivered Wednesday, follows:

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing on behalf of the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) to express our keen interest in working with your Administration to review onerous and outdated regulations that hamper job creation and threaten access to quality home medical equipment (HME) and services under the Medicare program. We believe that in complying with your Executive Order, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, we should take a holistic approach to the Medicare HME benefit and specifically look at issues such as policies related to competitive bidding for durable medical equipment, respiratory therapy (including home oxygen and sleep devices), power mobility devices, diabetes testing equipment and supplies, Medicare audits and anti-fraud and abuse initiatives.

AAHomecare is the only national trade association representing every line of medical equipment and services within the homecare community. The Association represents health care providers and manufacturers who serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) such as home oxygen therapy, mobility assistive technologies, diabetes therapy and other supplies, sleep therapy technologies, inhalation drug therapy, home infusion, and other home medical equipment, therapies, services, and supplies in their homes. Our membership reflects a cross-section of the homecare community, including national, regional and local providers.

The Association believes that there are a number of regulations that relate to the HME sector that need close scrutiny. These regulations, created over a 25-year period, have created a patchwork of rules that could be better designed to improve the quality of care furnished by HME providers with the goal of caring for individuals in their homes rather than in more costly institutional settings like nursing homes and hospitals.

AAHomecare looks forward to working with you and your Administration to address ineffective and outdated rules and the hassle factor these regulations create on HME providers that inhibit job growth and quality of care. The Association will provide you with more detailed comments in the near future and I am available to meet with you or your staff to discuss these concerns further.

If you have questions about the Association’s concerns, please contact Jay Witter at (703) 535-1884 or jayw@aahomecare.org.

Sincerely,

Tyler J. Wilson
President


Living Without the First-Month Purchase Option: 'We're not Thrilled'
ATLANTA—Medicare's elimination of the first-month purchase option for Group 2 power wheelchairs is entering its fourth week, and already problems are surfacing that reach beyond the bottom line, according to mobility providers and others.

CMS implemented a new reimbursement model on Jan. 1 that effectively turns standard power wheelchairs into rentals. Rather than getting paid up front for the expensive products, providers must now wait 13 months for the full payment.

Even though it is early in the game, stakeholders are reporting issues ranging from beneficiary access to clear guidance on provider compliance requirements.

"We're not thrilled with the process," said Jim Greatorex of Black Bear Medical in Portland, Maine. "The problem we are seeing is not so much financing, although we are certainly going to have to limit our choices as to what people get. The biggest issue is catching the clients who go into skilled nursing facilities and having to take [the wheelchairs] away from them.

"We're having to be the bad guys. We're going to have clients furious at us for taking their power wheelchairs away … We're talking about a very emotional thing here."

He's also disturbed that patients who go 60 days without the benefit because they are hospitalized or in another facility will have to be re-evaluated all over again to prove medical necessity once they are released.

"Again, who is going to be the villain in this?" Greatorex asked. "Those are extremely negative experiences we are going to have with our clients."

"There is more than a payment methodology change," acknowledged Julie Piriano, director of rehab industry affairs for Pride Mobility Products in Exeter, Pa. "There is some concern with regard to effectively managing through the long-term, 13 months of capped rental."

Documentation is relatively clear for static situations, Piriano said, but beneficiaries are rarely static. They move around. They travel. They go in and out of hospitals and nursing facilities. Once released, they might go to a relative's home for a time rather than their own home.

"There is no clear guidance once it gets complicated," Piriano said. "The logistics of the documentation and the condition of the equipment are really of concern ... When there is a break in service like that, this is expensive equipment and you can't keep track of where it went or who took it. That's a high-value asset to lose."

The issue becomes even murkier if beneficiaries live outside a competitive bidding area and travel into a CBA.

"Grandfathering rules do not apply," Piriano said. "So again, there are a lot of down-in-the-weeds compliance issues that providers are grappling with because they do want to provide the equipment, but they want to make sure that once they receive the money, they will get to keep it and not have to give it back because of a technicality at the start of the program."

That has caused providers to be very wary in providing standard PWCs, she said. "Some companies are hanging back a little, not wanting to have too much risk and liability," Piriano said. "Some have indicated that they can't make the transition at this time, at least in the short term, until they see what the lay of the land is economically."

Medical directors for the four DME MACs are aware of the problems, she said, and are working to come up with some solutions. "But the need for guidance is pretty immediate," she said.

Meanwhile, there is the beneficiary access issue.

"It is pretty early, but some things are becoming evident," said Tim Pederson, ATS, president and CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D. "We are taking a hard look at who we are providing service to and under what circumstances. And we are looking at the type of equipment we are providing. If it is a high-risk situation and is going to come back in pieces, we're probably not going to provide it.

"I see us being very selective under a rental [program]," he said. "I think the mindset is different from when we provided a power wheelchair that people own at the outset."

Pederson said he has heard of some companies getting out of the Medicare standard power wheelchair business altogether. "And that is always a possibility for us, as well," he said. "We are concentrating on the complex side and less on the noncomplex."

Greatorex said he, too, must limit his standard power wheelchair business. "We are not probably going to be able to help people with their bariatric products," he said. "You're looking at a client whose health stability is probably not very good. Usually, the wear and tear on those products is pretty high. We are really seriously having to look at every one of those and we are not taking them all."

Darren Tarleton, president and CEO of Mobility Warehouse in Stockbridge, Ga., said he has pared down his Medicare business so it comprises only about 20 percent of his revenue. So the elimination of the first-month purchase option is not affecting his business too much.

Still, he is not in favor of the policy and he doesn't believe it will achieve what CMS is projecting: cost savings for Medicare.

"I really don't see it saving money in the long run," he said. "The average person is going to live longer than 13 months. There are much bigger problems in the system and I think [CMS is] focusing on something that in the short term looks like it will save money."

Stakeholders said they weren't holding out a lot of hope that the policy would be repealed. "It's a terrible policy, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're stuck with this," Greatorex said.

That could happen, said Seth Johnson, vice president, government affairs, for Pride. "Legislative options to delay [elimination of the] purchase option at this point are very remote," he said, adding, "We are continuing to work with CMS and its contractors to secure additional guidance and clarification to assist providers in transitioning to the [new program]."


Face-to-Face, Direct Solicitation and PECOS Addressed—or Not—on Open Door
BALTIMORE—On an Open Door Forum call Jan. 19, CMS officials made a string of announcements and answered a range of caller questions, some going over old territory and some completely unexpected.

For starters, the agency’s Lori Anderson told listeners that despite the announced Jan. 1 implementation date for verification of face-to-face encounters now necessary for both home health and hospice benefits, CMS would not expect full compliance with the new requirements until the second quarter of 2011. Anderson said the agency had concerns that “some providers may need additional time to establish operational protocols necessary to comply with these requirements.”

DME providers, however, didn’t exactly get the same relief.

“Have you issued any guidance on whether or not you have started implementing the face-to-face requirement for DME suppliers as well?” asked a caller.

“No, that is a different statutory requirement,” Anderson replied, adding that “the implementation regulation associated with that is still in process.”

“Any idea when that might come out?” the caller inquired.

“No, I don’t know that,” Anderson replied, “but at the next Open Door Forum we can try to get someone in here to give us an update.”

Providers did get something of a reprieve on enforcement of the expanded direct solicitation ban, included in CMS’ August 2010 final rule on supplier standards.

“Among other things, the final rule included expansion of the provision regulating the direct solicitation of Medicare beneficiaries by DMEPOS suppliers,” explained the agency’s John Spiegel.

“The new rule enlarged the scope of the provision beyond telephone contacts to include in-person contacts, email and instant messaging. Since then, unanticipated issues have arisen regarding implementation of the newly expanded portions of the provision. CMS feels further investigation is necessary to determine the best way to apply these changes.

“In the interim,” Spiegel said, “CMS does not intend to instruct Medicare contractors to implement the expanded provision.”

In other announcements/Q&As during the Open Door call:

• “We’ve noticed that sometimes physicians will fall off of the current PECOS list,” a caller said. Why is that, she asked?

One CMS official responded, “I don’t have a good explanation.” But Spiegel said there could be a number of reasons, such as physician applications that haven’t been processed, problems in completing the enrollment review or information that physicians didn’t send in time, “things like that. And when it exceeds time limits for processing … sometimes things recycle and end up starting over again,” he said.

Those are reasons physicians might not appear on the PECOS “pending” list, the caller pointed out, but that doesn’t explain why physicians might appear on the actual “approved” list only to disappear from that list later.

Spiegel responded that if providers are having problems figuring out whether physicians are PECOS-registered, they can call 410/786-5704 “and we’ll find an answer to your questions.”

• “Several of our doctors have complained they have tried to register for PECOS but it's not showing up as even pending, and they’re telling us that CMS is backlogged. Is that true?” another caller wanted to know.

Said Spiegel, “There is a backlog at the moment our contractors are working to resolve, so, yes, that’s true, there is a backlog.”

• CMS’ Susan Webster said Cigna, the Jurisdiction C DME MAC, is individually contacting any provider that had more than 200 claims denied as a result of an internal claims edit error on Jan. 3. That process “should be completed this week,” Webster said. (Read a notice on the Cigna website.)

• Webster also reminded non-contract grandfathered suppliers to use the KY modifier on claims for beneficiaries residing in a competitive bidding area "for purchased, covered accessories or supplies furnished for use with rented grandfathered equipment. There are 24 codes that fall into that category” in the CPAP, hospital beds and walker categories, Webster said. “Suppliers must use the KY modifier to receive payment, and they are reminded to please submit the single payment amounts as their submitted charge so their claims will process correctly.” (Additional information is included in a revised issue of MLN SE1035.)

• Do contract suppliers need to use a special modifier on their claims to identify themselves as contract suppliers, a caller wanted to know? No, said a CMS official. “For competitive bidding in general, the claims are identified in the system based on the beneficiary’s address, the zip code in the address, and the item is identified based on the HCPCS code and the supplier is identified based on a file we have with all the contract supplier numbers. So that’s how the competitive bidding claim is identified and a competitive bidding supplier is identified, and there’s no modifier that’s used.”

For a replay of Wednesday’s Open Door Forum, call 800/642-1687 and use Conference ID 29116124 (available for 10 business days after the call).

The next Home Health, Hospice & DME Open Door Forum is scheduled for Wednesday, March 2, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET. To listen in, call 800/837-1935 and use Conference ID 39057815.


CMS FAQ 'Defies Logic'
BALTIMORE—Solicitation of beneficiaries and records storage were on the list as CMS attempted to clarify questions raised by the expanded supplier standards within the text of a Jan. 14 FAQ.

As part of CMS’ final rule on the revised standards, published in the Aug. 27, 2010, Federal Register, Standard No. 11 prohibits DME suppliers from directly soliciting Medicare beneficiaries.

According to CMS, “Direct solicitation occurs when a DMEPOS supplier or its agents directly contacts an individual Medicare beneficiary by telephone, email, instant messaging, or in-person contact without his or her consent for the purpose of marketing the DMEPOS supplier’s health care products or services or both.”

Jeff Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group at Amarillo, Texas-based Brown & Fortunato, believes the statement opens the door for providers to mail marketing materials to beneficiaries. “Receiving something in the mailbox is not intrusive,” said Baird. “Beneficiaries do not have to contend with pushy salesmen. They can simply throw the envelope in the trash.”

Yet another FAQ comment expanded on the topic of advertising, stating, “We believe that general mass advertising through the post office is not prohibited. Targeted mailings to specific beneficiaries are prohibited.”

Baird contends the statement raises more questions than it answers. “This defies logic,” says Baird. “Regardless of whether the envelope that appears in Mrs. Smith’s mailbox is a result of ‘general mass advertising’ or a ‘targeted mailing,’ the fact remains that it is simply an envelope that Mrs. Smith can throw in the trash. Plus, what is the definition of ‘general mass advertising’ and ‘targeted mailing?’ This FAQ is unnecessary and simply wrong.”

During last week’s CMS Open Door Forum, the agency’s John Spiegel seemed to back off the expanded solicitation prohibitions, stating that pending further investigation, “CMS does not intend to instruct Medicare contractors to implement the expanded provision.” Spiegel did not address any delay in enforcement of the “general mass advertising” vs. “targeted mailing” issue, but Baird said the delay likely applies to this issue as well. (For more, see related story on the Open Door call in this issue.)

Off-site records storage was also addressed under Supplier Standard 7 in the FAQ, which stated that it is not permissible for providers to use an off-site third party to store records—even if those records could be quickly retrieved.

“That is beyond ridiculous—that is absurd,” lamented Baird. “I have received multiple emails from small and large providers throughout the country who said, ‘You have got to be kidding me. All of us store records off-site.’ There is no logical reason for this restriction to storing records off-site.”

Again falling under Baird’s definition of “absurd” is a line from the FAQ that says a physician needs written permission from the beneficiary to allow contact by a DME supplier that receives the physician's order. According to Baird, when the modified standard came out, CMS said the supplier may also contact the patient when the physician has informed the patient that he will contact the DME company on the patient’s behalf.

Previously, CMS only required that a doctor notify a patient that he was sending an order to a DME company. The DME did not have to “police” or document the physician’s actions. “This is directly contrary to what just came out,” said Baird. “Now, CMS has said that in order for you, the DME company, to call the patient in response to a doctor’s order, the doctor must have written permission from the beneficiary allowing the contact. That is not how the real world works.”

Read the entire FAQ on the National Supplier Clearinghouse website.


For Retailers Only: Alliance for Retail Homecare
MALIBU, Calif.—Veteran HME consultant Jack Evans has launched the Alliance for Retail Homecare. “It’s a networking forum for retailers, a stage where they can meet each other,” said Evans, who has long advised providers on how to build the HME retail component of their businesses. “People are always dealing with issues that others are dealing with, too.”

President of Malibu, Calif.-based Global Media Marketing, Evans said the alliance is the result of his clients’ requests. “People have been asking me for years why don’t you do it,” he said about establishing the group.

It finally seemed the right time. “Everyone is finally talking about retail. I have only been talking about it for 20-some years,” Evans said, “but I’m not going to be doing it forever and I wanted to create a platform where people in the retail business can depend on each other and they don’t have to depend on a retail consultant like myself.

“Retail is finally becoming credible [in the HME industry],” he continued, “and it is becoming a large component of this business.” But HME retailers need resources, Evans said, “and we don’t have any resources.”

The group’s monthly webinars will include a variety of industry experts and issues centered around running retail operations in HME companies, pharmacies, drug chains, health systems, respiratory companies, home health agencies and hospices; the group's 10 charter members represent the range of venues. Alliance members will have the opportunity to ask questions not only of presenters but also their peers on the teleconferences. The initial webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 1, will be an introductory question-and-answer session.

Providers can also take advantage of online forums to ask questions and share information on showrooms, merchandising, product mix, staffing, marketing, advertising and financials, Evans said. As of Friday, members could find posts on new niche markets, ideas for the best automation systems and sales techniques, among other topics.

“Now we have a forum for best business practices where every contribution is equally important and valuable,” said Evans.

Throughout the year, informal networking breakfasts will be held at various industry events. “I think it will build a community—and that’s what we are trying to do, build a community of HME retailers,” Evans said.

Annual cost to belong to the alliance is $299, but “this is not something to make money,” Evans said, noting that membership will be limited to one HME retailer per sales territory to ensure the value of the information that is shared. The group’s membership will also be capped at 100.

“I believe when I work with somebody I have a personal relationship with them and I work on a strategic level. I don’t think it would be fair to turn around and use that same strategy for their competitor,” Evans said. By limiting the group’s membership, he believes providers will be more comfortable sharing information with others.

“This is education,” Evans said. “That is why I am doing this.”

For information about the Alliance for Retail Homecare, go to www.retailhomecare.com/networking.asp.


Medtrade 2011 Issues Call for Presentations
ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Medtrade organizers are now accepting abstracts for the Medtrade 2011 educational conference, which will take place Oct. 24–27 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Specifically, Medtrade and its Educational Advisory Board are looking for dynamic speakers with extensive knowledge in the HME industry. Session topics should fall within one of the following tracks:

Audits: Pre- and Post-payment
Business Operations
Competitive Bidding
Human Resources, Leadership & Staff Development
Industry Updates
Information Technology
Legislative & Regulatory
Non-Medicare/Medicaid Markets
Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology
Reimbursement
Retail
Sales & Marketing
Sleep and Oxygen & Respiratory Issues

To submit a presentation for consideration, go to www.medtrade.com/medtrade-spring/conference/speaker-service-center and click the "Submit My Medtrade Speaker Proposal" link. All submissions received by Friday, Jan. 28, will be reviewed by the Medtrade EAB and may be considered for inclusion in the 2011 program.

The EAB uses the following criteria when selecting presentations: timeliness of topic, overall content, audience interest, creativity, prior speaking expertise, knowledge of subject matter, prior speaker evaluation results and speaker references to create a balanced number of sessions and content.

Meantime, Medtrade Spring is coming up April 12–14 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. For more information, call 800/933-8735.


From HomeCareMag.com: News You Can Use
Having trouble keeping up? Check www.HomeCareMag.com for these stories and other recent headlines:

California Budget Includes Cap on DME—Again

NCPA Wants Bidding Exemption for Small Pharmacies

MedPAC Finds Regional Service Use Still Varies Substantially

To Catch a Thief


HME Company Newswire
Audax Is New Majority Owner at ATG; CarePoint Expands in Texas; More HME Company News
ROCKY HILL, Conn.—ATG Rehab has announced a majority investment by Boston-based Audax Private Equity. With 26 offices serving 19 states, the complex rehab provider said in a Jan. 18 release that company founders Chuck Wallace, Mike Freedman, Tim Burfield and Bryan Cressey would remain “significant minority investors.”

"We are excited to be investing in an industry leader that holds key process and strategic advantages in an industry poised for continued growth," said Geoffrey Rehnert, group co-CEO of Audax, said in a release. Audax invests in middle-market companies and has “a reputation for spurring growth and creating value," the release stated.

As part of the change, Paul Bergantino, who has served as ATG Rehab’s president for the past five years, will succeed Burfield as CEO. Burfield will continue as chairman and be involved in the company’s strategic development.

“Audax Group shares ATG Rehab’s vision of transforming the complex rehab industry,” Bergantino said. “Our plan is to continue to lead consolidation efforts within the industry, expanding both our physical presence and focus on providing excellent service and support to our customers.”

Founded in 1999, the company recently added locations in Oklahoma City; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and in Lynnwood and Tacoma, Wash.



CarePoint Expands Home Infusion Network in Texas
CINCINNATI—CarePoint Partners announced Jan. 17 that it has acquired ivA Lifetec, a home infusion provider serving the Houston, Texas, market. With this acquisition and its purchase of Allied Preferred Care, a Dallas-Fort Worth infusion services company, in October, CarePoint adds the two largest markets in Texas to its service area across the eastern and southern regions of the United States.

Since its inception in December 2007 under the Chicago-based Waud Capital Partners portfolio, CarePoint has made 10 acquisitions and now operates a network of home infusion and specialty pharmacies with 17 sites in Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia.

According to CarePoint CEO Dana Soper, "Our business model is to closely partner with health care professionals in the patient continuum of care involving in-home or alternate-site infusion therapy. What really makes us different is the fact that we go beyond the fundamental drop-ship dispatch services. We employ a collaborative 'hospital-to-home' program that optimizes outcomes and patient satisfaction."

Both the patient and the hospital benefit from the program, Soper said in a release. "It prevents 'bed lock' or triage of patients by transitioning a patient to home with infusion therapy and allows the patient to convalesce at home versus an acute hospital or long term facility."

Lifetec, which specializes in pediatric infusion care in conjunction with home health nursing, will continue to operate under its own name and retain its staff. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CareCentrix Adds Sleep Management
HARTFORD, Conn.— Health benefits manager CareCentrix announced Jan. 10 it has expanded its services to include sleep management with the acquisition of Sleep Management Solutions (SMS). With offices in Suffield, Conn.; Charleston, W.V.; East Longmeadow, Mass.; and Greensboro, N.C., SMS provides home sleep testing technology to qualifying patients and also follows up with people who are approved for sleep therapy devices to ensure they are using the equipment properly and following their prescribed treatment. CareCentrix manages home nursing, infusion and medical equipment services for more than 20 million people across the country through a network of 5,000 credentialed home care providers.

Gottfried Celebrates 30th in New Facility
TOLEDO, Ohio—Compression garment manufacturer Gottfried Medical settled into its new facility at the end of 2010. At almost 12,000 square feet, the company’s new digs nearly double its previous space, allowing the manufacturer to add technology and streamline operations. Because virtually everything the company produces is one of a kind, according to President Brent Gottfried, “the time an order is placed, engineered, manufactured and finally delivered, is counted in days.” Founded in 1981 with three employees, the company now employs 30 and this year celebrates 30 years in business.

Invacare Signs on at Medical Mart
ELYRIA, Ohio—Invacare has signed a letter of intent to join the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center. The partnership was formally announced during groundbreaking for the project Jan. 14. Slated to open in 2013, the $465-million facility will house 120,000 square feet of permanent showrooms for medical manufacturers and service providers. The new mart, which so far has signed up 57 tenants, is part of a larger downtown Cleveland development plan that also includes a new tradeshow facility and conference center. Invacare will use the Medical Mart “to highlight the value of home health care,” according to a release. “We are proud to be a health care company based in Cleveland, Ohio, and there is no better way to show our dedication to the city and the health care industry than to give our support to the Medical Mart,” said Mal Mixon, Invacare chairman.

KCI Acquires TechniMotion
SAN ANTONIO—Kinetic Concepts Inc. has announced its acquisition of “substantially all of the assets and intellectual property” of Austin, Texas-based TechniMotion Medical, which develops patient handling systems for acute and post-acute patient care. TechniMotion’s products include patient lifts that enable out-of-bed transfers, seated transfers and basic sit-to-stand maneuvers, and a reclining bedside chair that allows bed transfers to be performed over the patient's mattress. With initial launch expected this summer, the products will be marketed through KCI's Therapeutic Support Systems (TSS) division. A release from KCI estimated the U.S. medical lift market at $220 million annually “with significant future growth opportunity.”

Philips Continues ‘Biggest Loser’ Sleep Tests
MURRYSVILLE, Pa.—Philips Respironics is into its fifth season of providing NBC's “Biggest Loser” contestants with sleep testing and CPAP equipment. "The NBC TV show 'Biggest Loser' does so much to focus on good overall health and well-being," Eoghan O'Lionaird, general manager of sleep therapy for Philips Respironics North America, said in a release. "Sleep plays an important role in facilitating general wellness. By providing our equipment for testing and treatment of these sleep-apnea sufferers, we're able to have a direct impact on their well-being and to help educate undiagnosed people who might be watching the program." Season 11 of the show premiered Jan. 4.


To revisit this news anytime during the week, check www.HomeCareMag.com. We welcome your comments. Drop a line to HomeCare Editor-in-Chief Gail Walker at gwalker@homecaremag.com.



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