Conferences VGM's Heartland Conference Includes Call to Action: The population of Waterloo, Iowa, increased by 668 May 28-31, as attendees of The Heartland


VGM's Heartland Conference Includes Call to Action: The
population of Waterloo, Iowa, increased by 668 May 28-31, as
attendees of The Heartland Conference filled the Five Sullivan
Brothers Convention Center in organizer The VGM Group's hometown.
The buying group's members shopped for products from more than 70
exhibitors on the show floor, and shared insights on current issues
surrounding the home medical equipment industry.

In addition to HME/respiratory, rehab and products/technology
tracks, the schedule included a legal liability mock trial and an
all-day “billing boot camp.” The conference ended with
comments from Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, chairman of the House Budget
Committee and a senior member of the House Ways and Means
Committee, who said Congress is facing a “huge
challenge” and needs help in its debate on Medicare
legislation. He urged attendees to “get involved and get

Northwood Meeting Focuses on NCB: A May 29 meeting
sponsored by the Lansing, Mich.-based provider network Northwood,
offered attendees information about the possibility of a national
competitive bidding policy. According to attendee Sheldon
“Shelly” Prial, a partner with HPS Healthcare
Management and a columnist for HomeCare, Northwood President
Kenneth Fasse said that information about the threat of NCB needed
to be provided, so that HME dealers could know how to respond.
Meeting presenters included Mark Wynn, senior research analyst for
the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and Cara C.
Bachenheimer, an attorney with the Washington law firm of Epstein,
Becker & Green, who specializes in health care legislation,
regulations and government relations.


Florida Requires Public Posting of AWP: Effective July 1,
a new Florida law will require the state's Agency for Healthcare
Administration to post on the agency's Web site the average
wholesale prices of prescription drugs provided through the Florida
Medicaid program. S.B. 320 mandates that the AHCA publish
“the most recent average wholesale prices for the 200 drugs
most frequently dispensed to the elderly, and … provide a
mechanism that consumers may use to calculate the retail price that
should be paid” for the drugs. The law also requires the AHCA
to submit, by Jan. 4, 2004, a report that demonstrates the
cost-effectiveness of, and alternatives to, the AWP reimbursement
system for Medicaid prescription drugs. More information is
available at the AHCA's Web site,


O2 Science Expands, Sells California Branches: To expand
its service beyond the southwestern and central United States, O2
Science of Tempe, Ariz., has acquired Respicare, a Fife,
Wash.-based provider of respiratory therapy services and

In other O2 News, the company June 16 announced its decision to
sell all of its California branches to Apria Healthcare Group of
Lake Forest, Calif.

GAO Finds Problems with VA Home Care: In a May 22 report,
the U.S. General Accounting Office cited several shortcomings in
the home-based care of military veterans.

Of the Veterans Affairs Department's 139 facilities, 126 did not
offer six key services, several of which affect the quality of home
care. Almost 100 of the 139 locations did not offer respite care,
and seven facilities did not provide patients with skilled home
health care. These numbers are more worrisome, the GAO said,
“because even when facilities offer these services, they
often do so in only part of the geographic area they

For breaking news, go to, the electronic news service
of the home medical equipment industry.