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by: Mike Moran - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

There's an interesting tidbit in the St. Petersburg Times this morning about Lincare. It's in a column

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by Robert Trigaux about how annual corporate meetings are "great theater." Lincare's annual corporate meeting is coming up (May 11), and Trigaux gives us a primer on a potential topic of discussion:

CEO John Byrnes received total compensation last year of more than $6.5 million — plus a few perks. The company pays for his golf club membership, as well as his undergoing an "extensive physical examination that is not otherwise available to employees."

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More unusual, perhaps, is Lincare's making available to its executive officers personal use of company-owned and -operated aircraft. Why? A board of directors' committee said it "believes that the use of such aircraft provides for a higher level of personal security for the company's executive officers."

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A company-owned and -operated aircraft for a company that considers Medicare its biggest payer? I'm just saying...

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by: Mike Moran - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In March, HME News sent out a best practices survey to its readers. The results of the seven-question survey—completed by 197 people, most of them providers— is a goldmine. Here's why: The questions were open ended, not multiple choice. That means, for each question,  we have dozens of insightful comments on everything from strategies for reducing service calls to improving efficiency.

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When asked about generating revenue in new, innovative or unexpected ways, for example, respondents commented:

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Delivery personnel are trained to work as "direct sales" staff. They're in the patients' homes and can suggest/offer products that would improve/help meet the their medical condition.

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(We place) orthotics at outpatient surgery centers/ TENS units at rehab centers; call CPAP patients for downstream supply revenue; and place nebulizers in pediatric offices with our paperwork and company folder. The revenue has been amazing (albeit) a bit seasonal.

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Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming move Survey results will be shared with attendees of the HME Business Summit and discussed as part of several presentations given by industry consultants Vince Crew, Louis Feuer, Ty Bello and Sarah Hanna.

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Come and get it.

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by: Mike Moran - Friday, April 3, 2009

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius probably won't be confirmed (or not) as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services until later this month, the New York Times reported today. (Yup, you guessed it: The delay has something to do with a little thing called unpaid taxes!)

This could spell trouble for the HME industry. The national competitive bidding rule goes into effect in two weeks, yet the headless DHS hasn't even released a timeline. When will CMS put out requests for bids? How long will providers have to submit bids? When does the agency plan to launch the program?

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The Peacemaker psp It doesn't appear the indsutry will get those details until there's someone permanently in charge at DHS. During a February Open Door Forum, CMS's Joel Kaiser said: “There has been a change in administration, and we’re going through that transition process. Once that transition process is on its way, and we have a timeline and decisions on re-bidding, we’ll be announcing that.”

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by: Mike Moran - Friday, April 3, 2009

Not too long ago, we wrote a story

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about Intel's new home telehealth device, Intel Health Guide. Even though telemedicine hasn't quite caught on in the HME industry, we thought this was newsworthy because Intel's a big player. What if Intel helped to make telemedicine more attractive to HMEs by making it more attractive to Medicare? After all, the company plans to conduct pilot studies to show how the device can improve health outcomes cost efficiently.

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Well, things got a little more interesting today, when Intel announced that General Electric has jumped on its bandwagon. The two powerhouses have formed an alliance to develop and market home-based health technologies for seniors, according to a story Teeth film

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in The New York Times. They plan to invest a whopping $250 million over the next five years on research and product development.

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by: Mike Moran - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Industry consultant Vince Crew was part of a panel discussing the auto bailout on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees on Monday. Crew,  "America's Everyday Ethics Guy," argued that the government should have let Chrysler and GM fail. He told Cooper:

"Instead of allowing it to take the  natural order of things, which many of your listeners' businesses would have to do, the government steps in and says, well, we're going to prop you up a little bit, but, oh, maybe we will do a little political posturing, and we will pick this guy and we will pick this issue. The government has no business in here."

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You tell 'em, Vince!

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I haven't been able to find the video, but here's a transcript.

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by: Mike Moran - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Cable Guy hd Despite e-mails and promotions from various insurers, providers can't obtain surety bonds yet. Sure, they can call the insurers for more information. They can even begin the process by filling out applications. But they can't obtain bonds. Why? Because there's no approved form. Word has it that the Surety Association has submitted a form to CMS, but the association hasn't heard anything back yet. Some say it could be another two weeks. That doesn't leave much time for the providers seeking to enroll in Medicare or providers changing ownership, who must have bonds by May 4, 2009. Existing providers must have bonds by Oct. 2.

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On a surety bond side note: AAHomecare, which has teamed up with Aon Affinity Insurance Services, is playing hardball to get your surety bond business. In a recent e-mail blast to members, it stated: "By participating in this AAHomecare sponsored surety bond program, you are supporting AAHomecare's government affairs efforts on behalf of the entire industry. This program is available to members and nonmembers alike within the homecare community." Rear Window hd

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by: Mike Moran - Friday, March 27, 2009

I came across this letter to a consumer reporter online today:

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During a Florida vacation in January, I developed pneumonia, requiring a five-day stay at a hospital. Upon discharge, I was required to travel with supplemental oxygen.

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I had flown to Florida and had a ticket to return to New Jersey on an airline that does not allow supplemental oxygen on its flights. So I had to rent a car to get home. My son came down and drove me back to New Jersey, with 11 oxygen tanks in the trunk.

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I had to pay $272 in car rental and $85 in gas and tolls. I asked the airline for reimbursement, but it was denied.

The writer did eventually get a travel voucher for his troubles.

While most major airlines now allow patients to bring portable oxygen onboard, not all do. But, hopefully, experiences like this will become a memory in May when new Department of Transportation regulations will begin requiring airlines to allow FDA-approved POCs onboard.

Safe travels.

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by: Mike Moran - Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are certificates of medical necessity (CMNs) and DME information forms (DIFs) that confusing to fill out and submit?

The Hills Have Eyes dvd 2 Days in Paris download I hope so, considering Noridian Administrative Services just published a bulletin that states claims denied due to issues with CMNs and DIFs represent 35% of the appeals workload in Jurisdiction D.

What's up with that?

The claims denials and resulting appeals aren’t cheap, either. The denials cost Medicare, on average, $1.4 million for just one year. An appeal costs providers, on average, $36.74.

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That's a lot in a world where every penny counts.

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As part of the bulletin, Noridian offered tips to ensure claims aren't denied due to CMN and DIF issues. Things like submit the forms with initial claims, and make sure all necessary information is present on the forms.

That doesn't seem like rocket science to me.

Liz Beaulieu

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by: Mike Moran - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Overweight? Underactive? African American or Latino? You're at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The fourth Tuesday of every March is Diabetes Alert Day, created by the American Diabetes Association to call attention to the seriousness of Type 2 diabetes. Nearly 24 million American adults and children currently has Type 2 diabetes, and another one in five is at risk of developing the disease. Take the test to see how you stack up.

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by: Mike Moran - Thursday, March 19, 2009

In a release today, AAHomecare applauded President Barack Obama for making available $15 billion in loans to small businesses. But the association didn't stop there. It went on to say that if the president and members of Congress really want to help small businesses, they should scrap national competitive bidding.

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AAHomecare pointed out that CMS's first attempt at competitive bidding last year excluded 90% of HME providers from doing business with Medicare.

I like where AAHomecare is going here.

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—Liz Beaulieu