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by: Mike Moran - Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AAHomecare gave a “strong endorsement of Medtrade as the premier trade show for the home medical equipment industry,” and encouraged providers and manufacturers to attend the spring and fall shows in a statement today.

The statement follows Invacare's download Altered States recent announcement that it will forgo the spring and fall shows in 2008. In October, Permobil made a similar announcement. Drive Medical didn’t attend this year’s fall show; it plans to skip the 2008 spring show and possibly the 2008 fall show, said President Harvey Diamond.

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AAHomecare stated that Medtrade offers “preeminent opportunities to network and to gain vital information about new products and technologies and Medicare policy changes.”

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“We urge our associate members, who are suppliers to the industry, to exhibit at Medtrade,” stated AAHomecare President Tyler Wilson. “We also encourage our provider members to attend Medtrade to take advantage of the opportunities to meet with vendors, network with peers, attend professional development sessions and hear updates on important legislative and regulatory issues.”

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In conjunction with the spring 2008 show, May 6-8 in Long Beach, Calif., AAHomecare will hold its semi-annual Continuum of Care and Reimbursement conferences. Additionally, it will hold its second “Stand Up for Homecare” reception to raise money for a public awareness campaign for the homecare industry.

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At the fall 2008 show, Oct. 27-30 in Atlanta, AAHomecare will again hold its Continuum of Care and Reimbursement conferences.

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by: Mike Moran - Monday, November 19, 2007

The Chatsworth, Calif.-based CHAD Therapeutics plans to sell its oxygen conserver business to Naples-Fla.-based Inovo for $5.25 million in cash, the manufacturer announced today. CHAD will focus future efforts on the sleep-disordered market.

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“Uncertainty regarding Medicare reimbursement has contributed to operating losses at CHAD in recent quarters and clouded the outlook for the near term future of the company’s oxygen therapy business,” stated President and CEO Early Yager. “Given the many attractive growth opportunities we see in the multi-billion dollar sleep disorder market, we have decided to sell the oxygen conserver business in order to focus exclusively on the proprietary medical devices we are developing for the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.”

Per the deal, CHAD would retain assets related to its TOTALO2 system and in-home oxygen transfilling business. During a transition period that would end no later than 2008, Inovo would operate CHAD’s facility and reimburse the manufacturer for rent, employees, transition-related services and other costs.

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Inovo designs, develops and manufactures oxygen flow control products that are private labeled for leading distributors and manufacturers in the home respiratory, hospital and emergency medical markets.

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CHAD hopes to receive 510K clearance from the FDA to market its initial sleep device early next year. Additionally, it plans to submit 510k applications for two other devices in 2008.

Products in development include FloChannel, a sleep diagnostic device targeted for use in sleep laboratories that can independently monitor left and right nasal airflow, oral airflow and snoring; and FloPAP, a therapeutic device that can monitor and control left and right nasal airflows individually to create a comfortable equalizing airflow through respiration.

“We believe that our sleep products offer unique features that can improve the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea,” Yager stated. “With three products now in an advanced stage of development, a clear roadmap of additional product development opportunities based on our propriety technology and a sound marketing plan, we believe we have the opportunity to build CHAD’s position in this large and growing industry.”

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For the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2007, CHAD reported net sales of $3.21 million compared to $4.98 million for the same quarter last year. It reported a net loss of $1.35 million for the quarter compared to a net loss of $371,000 last year.

by: Mike Moran - Friday, November 16, 2007

HME News asked Medtrade Show Director Kevin Bird a few questions about Invacare's decision not to attend the Medtrade shows next year. Here's what he had to say:

HME News: Did Invacare's announcement take you by surprise?

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Kevin Bird: We’ve been working with Invacare for years as partners on the show. They have been a pioneer in both the industry and as a participant in the Medtrade shows. We have worked with them very closely in the past few months to satisfy their wants and needs from the show. During this time we crafted opportunities for them and they ended up choosing another path.

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HME: With Invacare and Permobil opting not to attend the Medtrade shows next year, do you expect other exhibitors to follow?
Bird: One or two companies do not make or break a trade show. This gives an opportunity to their competition to increase their presence in front of the Medtrade attendees.

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HME: Invacare and Permobil must see value in doing something outside the Medtrade shows. Given that, what value do the Medtrade shows offer exhibitors?
Bird: The value that Medtrade offers to the exhibitors remains unchanged because the value that Medtrade offers to the attendees remains the same, if not more valuable. The exhibitors benefit from the show by being able to network and negotiate with and sell to the attendees that are there for the education and product knowledge. None of that changes. There are just two fewer companies to show their products.

HME: Do you plan any changes in 2008 that may increase the show’s value to exhibitors?
Bird: There is a misconception about the importance of a trade show in general, not just Medtrade. The value for an exhibitor is not inherently tied to anything that the trade show producer does for them…but what a trade show producer does to attract the attendees. We are in the process of planning for the 2008 shows and how to enhance the offerings for our attendees. As these plans get finalized, we will definitely keep the industry up-to-date.

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by: Mike Moran - Thursday, November 15, 2007

Here's some big news from Invacare. The industry giant announced this morning (Nov. 15) that it will not exhibit at either Medtrade Spring or the fall Medtrade show next year. Invacare's announement comes about six weeks after Permobil

announced that it will not exhibit at the Medtrade shows in 2008.

Here's the text of the Invacare release:

Lifted download ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare's HME division announced today its trade show plans for 2008. The company’s HME division will shift its resources from a key focus on one or two trade shows to a broader focus on specialized trade shows and more customer-oriented training activities.

“Over the past several years, the HME industry has changed and so have the needs of our customers. We have had to evolve our product selections and services to better meet those needs, and now our trade show plans for 2008 reflect the new business model as well,” said Carl Will, group vice president, HME division.

buy Tall in the Saddle With this new strategic focus, Invacare’s HME division will not participate in the Medtrade shows next year. Instead, the division has realigned its resources with a broader focus that will have the following three (3) main components:

Invacare is actively involved in Washington, D.C., but realizes that it cannot be successful without the support of providers.

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“All politics is local, and more providers need to get out there and start talking with their own Representatives and Senators. This is a critical time in our industry, and we need the participation of everyone involved,” said A. Malachi Mixon, III, chairman and chief executive officer.

To support that cause, Invacare’s HME division will put even greater emphasis on supporting state and regional provider associations. The division and its local sales representatives will be highly involved in educating and promoting those organizations.

Invacare’s HME division also will support the industry through participation in specialized shows, such as rehab and respiratory focused trade shows. It is very important to educate therapists and clinicians about the benefits of home medical equipment.

The HME Division will further improve its education for customers. This includes training and development on new products, services, competitive bidding, improving operation costs and more.

The HME division will continue to roll out information as it develops its new strategy.

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by: Mike Moran - Thursday, November 15, 2007

The responses to the OIG's report comparing Medicare and Internet prices for power mobility devices (PMDs) are streaming in.

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Invacare's response.

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NCART's response.

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by: Mike Moran - Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report today that shows doctors and other Medicaid providers owe billions in unpaid taxes. The GAO has been investigating federal tax abuse since 2003, and this is the fifth report that the agency has forwarded to the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

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The GAO found that more than 30,000 Medicaid providers, about 5% of those paid in fiscal year 2006, had more than $1 billion in unpaid federal taxes. Medicare providers had another $1 billion. The report cites examples of those providers using the savings to subsidize multimillion-dollar homes and fancy cars and boats. It also cites patient abuse and other violations.

While the GAO report doesn’t name home medical equipment providers, specifically, it cites violators in the homecare and home health services fields.

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and Congress took to the report’s steal-from-the-poor-to-pay-for-the-rich theme like fishes to water, as they probably should. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., told USA Today: “These doctors are supposed to be serving the most needy. Instead, they are cheating taxpayers in order to line their pockets. These are not your everyday tax cheats. These are healthcare providers that receive billions from Medicaid every year.”

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by: Mike Moran - Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It became harder, on Nov. 9, to shrug off an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report comparing Medicare and Internet prices for power mobility devices (PMDs).

On that date, as we reported in this week’s Newswire, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., began circulating a “dear colleague” letter to representatives, alerting them to the report and pointing out that, if Medicare had paid the median Internet prices for Group 2 power wheelchairs, it would have saved $39 million in the first quarter of 2007 alone.

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to read Stark’s letter, “Free-Wheeling Payments,” in all its glory.

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Then, if you have any interest in staying in business and protecting beneficiaries, call his office (202-225-5065 in Washington, D.C.; or 510-494-5852 in Fremont, Calif.) and those of your representatives.

The industry needs to kill this thing before Congress decides to give CMS, which has agreed, for the time being, not to use Internet prices to set Medicare prices for PMDs, marching orders.


by: Mike Moran - Thursday, November 8, 2007

You might remember that on Oct. 11, National Public Radio ran a story on DME fraud in South Florida that did not include the industry's perspective. That ommisson outraged a bunch of providers who complained to NPR about the unbalanced report. NPR took those complaints to heart, and on Nov. 6 ran a follow-up story that includes the industry's perspective on DME fraud.

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Click here to listen to the story or to read a transcript.

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by: Mike Moran - Monday, November 5, 2007

A lot has been said about the need for home medical equipment providers to get the mainstream media’s attention. It’s hard to believe, but most people don’t know about HME (unless they’re caring for an elderly or disabled family member of friend). I didn’t know about HME when I started covering this industry about five years ago. It’s always an awkward moment when I tell people what I do for a living. Me: “I work for a business newspaper that covers the home medical equipment industry.” Them: Nothing.

The attention HME does get from the media often isn’t good. On any given month (even day), you can type “home medical equipment” or “durable medical equipment” into Google News and get a handful of newspaper reports about fraud and abuse. There has been increasing evidence of providers, state associations and other member groups getting in front of the media for the right reasons. Earlier this year, for example, I saw a flurry of newspaper reports about providers and beneficiaries decrying Medicare’s reimbursement cap on home oxygen therapy.

But the media attention needs to come in more than fits and spurts, depending on the reimbursement cut du jour.

I’d like to see more providers following the footsteps of Binson’s Home Health Care in Center Line, Mich. It has contracted with a local public relations firm to get its messages and activities printed in newspapers and aired on TV stations. Just last month, Binson’s got this article printed in the Detroit Free Press and this press release distributed on PR Newswire for all media outlets to see. We wrote this story on Binson’s philanthropic activities in our August issue after reading such a press release.

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The Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association (ADMEA) is on the same track. In our December issue, I write about how the association recently raised $5,000 to hire a former local TV reporter as a media consultant on an ongoing basis. Already, she has helped the association get stories broadcast on three TV stations.

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A little PR goes a long way.


by: Mike Moran - Friday, November 2, 2007