In brief: VGM rolls out bid-related tools, CRT providers report reduced access

Friday, August 17, 2018

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group has released an interactive tool that allows providers to assess what areas CMS has deemed bid, non-rural, rural and non-contiguous. The tool provides maps for all 50 states, allowing providers to determine what area a zip code falls under. “With the proposed changes coming down from CMS excluding relief from the non-bid areas and opening up competitive bidding areas to any willing provider, it is important that providers understand what they will be reimbursed and where those lines fall on a map,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations. “This new tool will allow providers to easily access that information”…VGM has also released sample templates for commenting on CMS’s recent proposed rule outlining changes to the bid program. Because the rule covers several aspects of the program, VGM has organized the templates by policy area: lead-item pricing, oxygen and budget neutrality, fee schedule adjustment amounts, multi-function vents, and national mail-order programs for test strips. VGM advises providers to add at minimum a paragraph of personal testimony to the template for “the most effective comment.”

CRT providers report reduced access, NCART survey finds
WASHINGTON – An alarming 65% of complex rehab providers say CMS’s application of bid-related pricing to accessories for complex manual wheelchairs has reduced their ability to provide these products to Medicare beneficiaries, according to a new survey from NCART.
An additional 22% say they have been holding off on limiting the accessories they provide, but if nothing changes in the next 90 days, they’ll have no choice.
“That equates to 87% of the Medicare CRT suppliers indicating that currently, or within the next 90 days, they will not be able to provide the right complex rehab wheelchair systems that Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities require,” NCART stated.
To evaluate the impact of bid pricing on accessories for complex manual wheelchairs, NCART conducted a confidential survey, generating responses from 45 companies with 402 Medicare supplier locations across the country.
Stakeholders plan to use the survey results to lobby Congress to pass H.R. 3730 and S. 486, bills that would stop bid-related pricing for accessories for complex manual wheelchairs. The pricing has been in place since Jan. 1, 2016.

Aeroflow buys sleep business
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Aeroflow Healthcare has acquired the CPAP resupply program of Vernon, Conn.-based Med-Caire.
Following the acquisition, patients throughout Connecticut, North Carolina and South Carolina, where Med-Caire has a presence, will now have access to Aerflow’s resupply program.
“By acquiring Med-Caire’s CPAP resupply line of business, Aeroflow is advancing its mission of improving its patients’ quality of life by expanding the geographic area in which they are served,” said Andrew Amoth, corporate development manager, in a press release.
Med-Caire will refocus its business, assisting patients in other medical and geographical areas, according to the release. The family owned and operated company, which has a staff of 25, provides home respiratory and DME supplies.
Aeroflow says it will continue seeking opportunities to expand through mergers and acquisitions.

Viemed increases vent patient count by 35.3%
LAFAYETTE, La. – Viemed Healthcare on Aug. 13 reported revenues of $15.5 million for the second quarter, a 42% increase compared to the same period last year and a 10% increase compared to the first quarter.
The company reported a gross margin of $11.3 million for the second quarter, a 44% increase compared to the same period last year.
Specifically, Viemed reported its ventilator patient count grew by about 35.3% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year and about 8.4% compared to the first quarter.        
Looking forward, the company expects to generate revenues of about $16.3 million to $16.7 million and similar gross margin in the third quarter.
In addition to its financial results, Viemed reported that it has added a new independent director to its board: Bruce Greenstein, who recently joined LHC Group as chief innovation and technology officer. Greenstein was previously chief technology officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Best Buy makes big healthcare buy
MINNEAPOLIS – Best Buy has signed a definitive agreement to buy Great Call, a San Diego-based provider of connected health and personal emergency response services to the aging population, for $800 million in cash. Great Call says it has more than 900,000 paying subscribers. “We know technology can improve the quality of life of the aging population and those who care for them,” said Hubert Joly, chairman and CEO of Best Buy. “Now, we have a great opportunity to serve the needs of these customers by combining GreatCall’s expertise with Best Buy’s unique merchandising, marketing, sales and services capabilities.” Best Buy says the acquisition will augment its existing efforts in the health space and will help fuel further growth in the consumer and commercial markets. The company says it already has a growing business selling health- and wellness-related products and has invested in health-related initiatives that involve several leading healthcare providers and insurers. Great Call will maintain its headquarters and its care centers in Carlsbad, Calif., and Reno, Nev. David Inns, who has been with Great Call since it was formed in 2006, will remain CEO. “By joining forces, we can do even more for this population, combining our products, services and expertise with Best Buy’s customer focus and scale to meaningfully expand our reach,” Inns said.

VirtuOx buys Instant Diagnostic Systems
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – VirtuOx, an independent testing facility specializing in at-home testing for sleep disorders and respiratory diseases, has acquired Decatur, Ala.-based Instant Diagnostic Systems. The deal allows VirtuOx to grow strategically in the lab services sector. “This is an ideal acquisition for us,” said Steven Lica, CEO of VirtuOx. “No only do we increase our POX testing and HST testing platform, but we have also gained a valuable and experienced team with IDS, a pioneer in our space.” IDS is also an IDTF specializing in home-based diagnostic testing and has performed nearly 2 million pulse-oximetry studies, according to its website. M&A firm Vertess, which facilitated this deal, seeks additional acquisitions on behalf of VirtuOx in the areas of home sleep testing, pulse oximetry, cardiac telemetry, monitoring, insomnia and related IT products and services.

Regional Health pilots home mods, HME concept
STURGIS, S. Dakota – Regional Health HOME+ Home Medical Equipment held a grand opening for its new 3,600-square foot store on Aug. 17, according to the Rapid City Journal. The company originally occupied 700 square feet inside the Massa-Berry Clinic in Sturgis, but the clinic moved to Regional Health Sturgis Hospital. “They didn’t have room for us (in the new clinic),” Brittany Battista, manager, told the newspaper. “We wanted to stay in the community and wanted to broaden our retail and home modification (services), so this was a perfect location.” The larger space allows the company to demo chair and stair lifts, and wheelchair-accessible sinks and cupboards. It also accommodates an expanded display of connected home devices, home and bath safety equipment, roll-in showers, walk-in bathtubs, grab bars and wheelchair ramps. Regional Health is using the new location as a pilot for potential expansion in Rapid City and Spearfish, according to the newspaper.

Rehab Medical eyes national footprint
INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical now has a presence in 13 states and the complex rehab provider is eyeing a national footprint, according to the Indiana Business Journal. The company hasn’t decided how to accomplish that, though—organically or through acquisitions. Rehab Medical, which started as part of a larger company, Orbit Medical, provides complex power wheelchairs and mobility devices, as well as wound-therapy products, beds and some orthotics. In a rapidly consolidating market, Rehab Medical told the newspaper it differentiates itself from its competition with service, speed and compassion. “This business is so service-driven, and the ability to get a patient a piece of equipment quickly and efficiently is really tough,” Kevin Gearheart, president, told the newspaper. “Some patients have to wait six months. We’re able to do that in half the time.”

Southeastern Medical Supply under new ownership
LAKELAND, Fla. – Jose Escobedo, ATP, CRTS, has purchased Southeastern Medical Supply based here, with an eye toward expanding its reach throughout Florida and narrowing its focus on complex rehab. Right now, the company, which was founded in 2002, is a one-stop shop for DME. Escobedo, who serves as president and CEO, has 30 years of experience in the industry, with a specialty in complex rehab.

Supreme Medical adds CBD products
MOBILE, Ala. – Supreme Medical has partnered with Green Roads to add CBD products to its roster of distributed products. Green Roads produces more than 50 CBD products that are formulated by a licensed compound pharmacist using high quality, broad-spectrum hemp oil and other natural ingredients, according to a press release. Supreme Medical believes the CBD industry is poised to generate more than $2 billion in revenue by 2020. “This product category represents a huge opportunity to generate new cash sales at great margins for your business,” the company stated.

Uni-flo2 publishes white paper
LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. – Uni-flo2 has released a white paper that outlines issues related to the method of delivery in supplemental oxygen therapy and highlights the advantages of single-prong nasal cannulas for COPD patients. “Breathe Easier: Single-Prong Cannula Represents Important Breakthrough in Oxygen Therapy for COPD Patients” is authored by Campbell Cauthen, RRT, co-inventor of Uni-flo2. The reported benefits of a single-prong cannula include greater comfort, freedom of movement, improved sleep and enhanced personal appearance, according to the company’s survey of patients. Uni-flo2 has recently ramped up its marketing efforts.

Brightree invites users to conference
ATLANTA – Registration is open for the Brightree Summit, the company’s one-day user conference. The Summit will take place Oct. 15 at the Omni Atlanta Hotel in conjunction with Medtrade. The theme of this year’s Summit is “Empowering Care.” “Yes, Brightree focuses on the business side of the house for HME providers, with technology and services to run operations efficiently, but boosting nearly every step in the HME process also empowers suppliers to provide the best care for patients,” the company stated. “Simply put, Brightree delivers technology so providers can do more of what they do best.” Attendees can expect a variety of training, education and consulting tracks covering e-purchasing, billing and A/R, patient collections, mobile delivery and more. They can also expect a new advanced training track geared toward users with two-plus years of experience on rules engine, productivity and management, and site settings.