In brief: CMS grants bond allowance, Dasco partners with PE firm

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Friday, March 20, 2020

WASHINGTON – CMS is allowing providers to submit surety bond riders and/or page two of their bid surety bonds to make sure they meet Round 2021 requirements.

The allowance applies only to providers who uploaded a copy of a valid bid surety bond by the deadline for bid submission and have received noticed that the CBIC needs additional information to ensure the bond meets all requirements.

“AAHomecare reached out to CMS last week to request that bidders be allowed the opportunity to make sure their bid information was complete in light of reports of failures to properly upload surety bonds,” the association stated in a bulletin.

Any submission other than a rider and/or page two of the bond from those bidding the CBIC has contacted will not be considered.

The deadline for submitting riders and/or page two of their bid surety bonds is March 26.

AAHomecare makes Medicare, Medicaid policy recommendations

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare is urging CMS to cut through “red tape” to ensure patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have access to necessary home respiratory services.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the association says HME providers are “uniquely qualified” to assist during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The current COVID-19 outbreak presents many challenges to our health care system,” the letter states. “If the virus spreads and hospitals reach capacity, we will see an increased need for treatment of people at home, including those directly related to COVID-19.”

Among the asks AAHomecare is requesting from CMS:

Delay the implementation of the competitive bidding program for one year; and suspend all audits to allow suppliers to focus on emergency activities.

Pay for equipment, supplies and services for patients with a confirmed COVID-10 diagnosis; and provide coverage for short-term oxygen for beneficiaries with acute conditions to ease hospital overflow.

Waive the requirement for a face-to-face visit to assist with social distancing efforts.

Allow alternatives for proof of delivery requirements. That could include a technician photographing equipment on the porch to validate receipt.

Allow an extension of the expiration date of written orders for an additional nine months from the date orders currently expire for recurring supply orders and ongoing DME rentals.

The association is also asking CMS to: suspend certain supplier standards, including minimum hours of operation and to allow use of one or more cell phone numbers in lieu of a primary business telephone; and designate DMEPOS suppliers as essential services to allow delivery to quarantined areas.

Payer relations creates list of Medicaid policy recommendations

AAHomecare’s payer relations team met with the National Association of Medicaid Directors to collaborate on policy changes and guidance for messaging nationwide.

The recommendations for state and other payers are in line with those for Medicare, with a few additional recommendations:

Waive prior authorization requirements for exceeding quantity limitations on gloves, incontinence, urological, ostomy, oxygen, suction, ventilators, enteral, and wound care supplies.

Allow in-home sleep testing through an independent testing facility (IDTF) to qualify beneficiaries for PAP devices.  

Allow prescribers not currently enrolled in Medicaid programs to order DMEPOS.

The payer relations team is also reaching out to top commercial payers. It will continue to monitor and make additional recommendations.  

CMS paves path for 1135 Medicaid waivers

WASHINGTON – CMS has approved an 1135 Medicaid Waiver for the state of Washington.

A national emergency declared by President Trump allows CMS to grant waivers to states to offer flexibility and remove barriers to needed services. Washington state, which has seen one of the worst outbreaks in the country, had submitted its request on March 15.

“I recognize that Gov. Inslee and his team are working around the clock to respond to the escalating crisis in Washington State,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We are committed to stripping away any red tape that gets in the way of states or providers effectively managing this public health emergency.”

Florida has also received approval for a waiver.

CMS offers guidance for states on how to apply for Section 1135 waivers through the Medicaid Disaster Response Tool Kit, which can be found here*. CMS will continue to expeditiously review and approve as appropriate all Section 1135 waivers and other requests that the agency receives to ensure that it is providing state partners with the maximum flexibility they need to care for their Medicaid beneficiaries during the public health emergency.

To support these efforts, CMS is developing checklists and tools to expedite requests and approvals for waivers and other commonly requested flexibilities.

VGM encourages outreach on PPE

WATERLOO, Iowa – HME providers should contact their state and county health departments to ensure priority access to personal protective equipment. In a bulletin to its members, the VGM Group says providers should explain their business model and let them know they need assistance with necessary supplies to keep patients and employees safe. The Centers for Disease Control is recommending healthcare personnel adhere to Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions when caring for patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Coronavirus and CRT: NCART seeks policy changes, NSM implements disaster preparedness guidelines

WASHINGTON – NCART has submitted a formal request to CMS asking for temporary policy changes related to face-to-face requirements, telehealth opportunities, timely filing and supplier hours of operation.

The recommended changes, at a minimum, would provide some relief from the reduced access to facilities and the increased burdens placed on healthcare providers, the organization says.

“These are challenging weeks ahead as our country navigates this new, but temporary, environment,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “We will continue our CRT work and will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

NCART’s recommendations include:

Face-to-face requirements: Permitting completion of the standard written order as long as the medical record supports the need, or permitting video or telephonic evaluation of the beneficiary to satisfy requirements.

In-person specialty evaluation by LCMP: Permitting video evaluations to encourage responsible social distancing.

ATP presence/collaboration in specialty evaluation by LCMP: Permitting video participation by an ATP to be sufficient to meet the in-person participation requirement.

Home assessment: Permitting verbal/phone interviews of customers/caretakers or video assessment if needed.

Prescription required for repairs: Permitting suppliers to perform repairs to wheelchairs for beneficiaries with permanent mobility related disabilities without confirmation of continued need by the physician.

Timely completion/filing deadline: Extending completion/filing deadline requirements to allow for additional time.

NSM implements new disaster preparedness guidelines

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility has put in place new guidelines, with input from its Disaster Preparedness Task Force, to mitigate exposure risk and support alternative service delivery options for clients. “We recognized the impact this pandemic would have on our clients and activated a COVID-19 task force in response,” said Bill Mixon, CEO. “Our clients need continuity of care during this unprecedented situation and that includes uninterrupted access to assistive technology providers, mobility equipment and repair services.” In addition to daily compliance with the rigorous infection control policies that are required to meet accreditation standards, NSM has implemented new screening procedures in advance of all personal client interactions; and a restriction on visitors in branches, limiting access only to clients and those who support them. The company is also working with referral sources to offer a variety of alternative appointment options for clients, including the use of telehealth where compliant and appropriate. Additionally, for employees, it has created a COVID-19 resource center, providing information and updates related to the virus, and a hotline for answering questions.

Industry events: AAHomecare, MAMES, Medtrade

AAHomecare has canceled its annual Washington Legislative Conference, scheduled for May 20-21. The Centers for Disease Control on March 16 recommended against gathering of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks—one week after the event with more than 150 attendees expected. AAHomecare is currently working to develop alternative advocacy opportunities…MAMES has cancelled its 2020 MAMES Spring Excellence in HME Midwest Conference scheduled for April 28-30 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The association is planning to move all of the programming for this event to the 2020 MAMES Midwest Conference, Oct. 7-9. Attendees who are registered for the spring event have the option of a refund or moving their registration to the fall event…Medtrade show organizers do not foresee any changes at this time for the fall show in Atlanta, Nov. 2-4 at the Georgia World Congress Center. Medtrade will continue to monitor updates on the coronavirus outbreak, is in close contact with Atlanta officials, and is implementing control measures and best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and local health officials around the show and on-site.

Coronavirus updates: CareCentrix, Prochant, VirtuOx

CareCentrix has extended its home telehealth platform at no cost to its network of more than 8,000 home health locations. It includes patient-to-provider and three-way virtual health capabilities to enable patients to include remote family members or caregivers in visits, remote monitoring, secure messaging and clinical analytics…Prochant has posted a blog, “Latest Updates: COVID-19 and HME,” to serve as a real-time information hub for the HME industry…VirtuOx, an independent diagnostic testing facility and its affiliate, DocViaWeb, a telemedicine service, are offering access to their telemedicine software at no charge to physicians to order home-based diagnostics, whether those are ordered through VirtuOx or not. FMI: sales@virtuox.net.

Dasco partners with PE firm

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Silver Oak Services Partners has recapitalized Dasco Home Medical Equipment. Owned and operated by the Seeley family since 1987, DASCO specializes in respiratory therapy equipment, and serves patients and referral sources throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Silver Oak,” said CEO Rachel Mazur. “Their expertise investing in healthcare services businesses like DASCO is exactly what we are looking for in a partner to help us accelerate our company's growth.” Dasco has been entering into joint ventures with health networks, including Mountain Health Network.

MobilityWorks expands services

RICHFIELD, Ohio – MobilityWorks has announced it plans to remain open amid the coronavirus outbreak, but it is also offering free pick-up and drop off within 100 miles of its locations and in-home or virtual appointments. When servicing vehicles, it will take measures to sanitize based on guidance from the CDC. “We know that having reliable transportation is an essential need for all of us,” the company said. “It is even more important during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

PHS takes steps to protect patients

ROSEVILLE, Minn. – Pediatric Home Service has put in place measures to increase the safety of its pediatric patients with compromised immune systems, their families and employees. Those measures include restricting interactions and serving as a resource for reusing critical supplies during a shortage, the company says. PHS and its subsidiaries, The Care Group, RSVP and Pulmonary Partners, will continually update a specific website to ensure families and caregivers have access to the most current information.

Trump expands telehealth services to certain providers

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has expanded Medicare telehealth coverage to allow beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

Beginning March 6, CMS will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.

A range of healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers will be able to offer telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries.

Prior to this announcement, Medicare was only allowed to pay clinicians for telehealth services such as routine visits in certain circumstances. For example, the beneficiary receiving the services must live in a rural area and travel to a local medical facility to get telehealth services from a doctor in a remote location.

Coronavirus updates: NCPA, NHIA

The NCPA has reiterated to Vice President Mike Pence and members of the administration’s Coronavirus Task Force how community pharmacy is ready and willing to assist with fighting the pandemic. This follows a March 2 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offering their assistance. The NCPA’s recommendations include allowing independent community pharmacists to test for COVID-19, provide home delivery services, and test and vaccinate for influenza…In the wake of the coronavirus, the NHIA is urging Congress to adopt S. 3457 and H.R. 6218. The bills provide clarifications to the 21st Century Cures Act to recognize the full spectrum of professional services provided in home infusion and enable the delivery of infused medications in patients’ homes.

Coronavirus: VGM requests support, hosts webcast

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM has sent letters to top government officials and lawmakers, asking them to take a number of steps to improve coronavirus efforts related to HME.

In letters to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma, as well as the offices of Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committees, VGM asks that CMS:

·      Suspend adding non-invasive ventilators to Round 2021 of competitive bidding

·      Extend the current blended reimbursement rate in rural non-bid areas and initiate a blended rate for non-rural bid areas in 2021 to protect access

·      Allow providers to accept and submit claims for telehealth visits

·      Reduce burdensome paperwork on physicians and providers

·      Cover and reimburse for HME, supplies and services provide to patients confirmed with COVID-19

·      Prioritize the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for providers.

VGM encourages other stakeholders to send letters with issues specific to their areas to their congressional offices.

Wear your love for RESNA

WASHINGTON – RESNA has partnered with Jim Coleman, Ltd., to offer a branded line of RESNA merchandise to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The organization’s members can purchase polo shirts and coffee mugs to become brand ambassadors. RESNA will celebrate its anniversary at its annual conference, July 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va. The conference’s theme this year: Inspiring the Next 40 Years.

Short takes: 3B Medical

Winter Haven, Fla.-based 3B Medical has been named one of Florida’s fastest growing companies by Inc. Magazine. The company is no. 93 on the inaugural Inc. 5000 Series: Florida list.