In brief: Stark Law, new sleep company, Oventus-VGM agreement

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

WASHINGTON – CMS has finalized a number of changes to the Stark Law, including new permanent exemptions for value-based arrangements, in a 627-page final rule set to be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 2. 

The exemptions will allow physicians and other health care providers to design and enter into value-based arrangements without fear that legitimate activities to coordinate and improve the quality of care for patients and lower costs would violate the physician self-referral law, CMS says. 

“When we kicked off our Patients Over Paperwork initiative in 2017, we heard repeatedly from front-line providers that our outdated Stark regulations saddled them with costly administrative burdens and hindered value-based payment arrangements,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “That sound you hear is the mingled cheers and exclamations of relief from doctors and other health care professionals across the country, as we lift the weight of our punishing bureaucracy from their backs.” 

CMS published a request for information in June 2018 seeking input from stakeholders about how to address regulatory barriers to a value-based health care payment and delivery system under the Stark Law. The agency then published a proposed rule in October 2019 proposing sweeping reforms of the regulations that interpret the Stark Law. 

Other changes to the Stark Law include: 

  • Finalizing additional guidance on key requirements of the exceptions to the physician self-referral law to make it easier for physicians and other health care providers to make sure they comply with the law. 

  • Finalizing protection for non-abusive, beneficial arrangements that apply regardless of whether the parties operate in a fee-for-service or value-based payment system, such as cybersecurity technology that safeguards the integrity of the health care ecosystem. 

  • Reducing administrative burdens that drive up costs by taking money previously spent on administrative compliance and redirecting it to patient care. 

Unless specified in the rule, all of the changes go into effect 60 days from the rule being published in the Federal Register. 

Hospice Source buys Superior Healthcare 

CARROLLTON, Texas – Hospice Source, a provider of DME to the hospice market, has acquired Superior Healthcare in Marinez, Calif. The deal furthers Hospice Source’s position as the largest provider of DME to the hospice market in California, the company says. “The acquisition of Superior Healthcare allows us to extend our passion for service to a greater number of northern California hospice patients and hospice partners,” said Jeff West, CEO of Hospice Source. “We welcome our new team members, hospice partners and patients to the Hospice Source family.” Hospice Source currently provides service to patients and hospice providers in multiple states from 62 locations. It is a portfolio company of Transition Capital Partners, a Dallas-based private investment firm. 

Sleeplay takes ‘unconventional approach’ 

MIAMI – Sleeplay is a new CPAP shop for all things sleep, wellness and comfort. The company says it provides customers with an easy-to-use website, and convenient features like complimentary equipment troubleshooting and digital prescription uploads. “Sleeplay’s unconventional approach to a somewhat archaic industry is exactly what this market needs and truly distinguishes us from other organizations in the space,” said Liliane Fuhrman, owner of Sleeplay. The website features hundreds of curated products for those with and without sleep apnea, including travel-size CPAP machines, CPAP cleaners, eye masks, weighted blankets and travel pillows. Top products include ResMed AirMini AutoSet Travel CPAP Machine, Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto CPAP Machine with Heated Humidifier, Fisher & Paykel Evora CPAP Mask, Snugell Ergonomic CPAP Pillow and SoClean Device Disinfector. 

DarioHealth hits milestone in B2B market 

NEW YORK – DarioHealth has signed a contract to provide its digital therapeutics solution to eligible employees of a Fortune 500 technology company. Dario will be available to eligible employees and dependents effective Jan. 1, 2021. “This contract, awarded through an RFP process that included Dario’s largest competitors, represents an important milestone in our strategic shift toward the business-to-business-to-consumer market comprised of self-insured employers, health care provider networks and insurance plans,” said Rick Anderson, president and GM of North America. Dario says employees will benefit from a therapeutic approach that delivers adaptive, personalized experiences designed to drive behavior change through intuitive, clinically proven digital tools and coaching.  

Oventus Medical becomes ‘preferred supplier’ for VGM members 

BRISBANE, Australia – Oventus Medical has signed a marketing agreement with VGM & Associates. Per the agreement, VGM has named Oventus Medical as a preferred supplier of oral appliance therapy and will promote the company’s “lab-in-lab” program to its 2,500-plus members with 7,000-plus locations. “The difficulties associated with CPAP therapy and optimum patient care are well understood,” said Scott Owen, senior vice president of contracting for VGM & Associates. “By working with Oventus, the introduction of a program that offers oral appliance therapy as alternative to CPAP enables our members to better support both their patients and referral sources, while strengthening their revenue base.” The agreement is initially for a one-year term, with an automatic annual renewal, unless a party elects not to renew 90 days prior to the end of that term. Oventus Medical expects to start the process of launching its LIL program to VGM members in January. It believes the agreement will make “a large contribution to growth” next year. Under Oventus Medical’s LIL l program, dentists take scans of the mouths of patients within hybrid sleep facilities, which also offer DME, to fit them for oral devices. 

American Medical Depot auctions inventory 

NEW YORK – Tiger Capital Group, a financial services firm providing assets appraisal, liquidation exits and inventory auctions, will conduct online auctions in December for the remaining $7 million in inventory, plus other assets, from two East Coast facilities operated by American Medical Depot, a distributor of medical equipment and supplies that is closing. Tiger Capital will conduct auctions for the assets of the company’s 30,500-square-foot facility in King of Prussia, Pa., and 77,500-square-foot facility in Tampa on Dec. 2 and 16, respectively. These auctions follow a previous auction on Nov. 13 for AMD’s assets from a facility in Vernon, Calif. Items up for bid range from PPE to medical gloves to catheters from manufacturers like 3M, Medline and Becton Dickinson. 

Aeroflow donates to inclusive playground 

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has donated $10,000 to help make a playground at Lake Tomahawk Park in Black Mountain, N.C., inclusive to children with physical disabilities. Aeroflow partnered with Noah Lewkowicz, a local Eagle Scout and high school junior, on the project. “Noah began his Eagle Scout project two years ago, just a few years prior to a close family friend being in a near-fatal crash, which left him unable to walk,” said Wendy Lewkowicz, Noah’s mother. “The community rallied behind Noah to raise a few thousand dollars but was left with a gap of $10,000 to meet necessary ADA requirements. That’s when Aeroflow swooped in to offer their support.” The project entailed replacing mulch with a poured surface, creating ADA-approved concrete ramps for entry, and adding a hardback swing. The playground re-opened the weekend of Nov. 20.