STEVENS POINT, Wis., and BURNET, Texas – Ki Mobility has acquired the custom seating business of Stealth Products, the two companies announced Jan. 17.
The deal follows an outcry from customers over Stealth Products’ decision in late 2017 to discontinue its custom seating business, according to a press release.
“We felt this acquisition was a great solution for both of our customer bases," said Lorenzo Romero, president of Stealth Products, which has worked with Ki Mobility over the years to provide mobility and seating solutions. "Stealth Products looks forward to working with the team at Ki Mobility to make this transition successful."
Stealth Products’ custom seating business will be transitioned to Ki’s headquarters in Stevens Point, Wis., to streamline the ordering process and improve delivery time, the companies say. Stealth Products will accept orders for custom seating until April 2.
The seating market has seen brisk activity in recent months. In November, Ki Mobility announced it would be the exclusive distributor of U.K.-based Leckey pediatric seating products in North America. Earlier this month, Lebanon, Tenn.-based Permobil announcedit would acquire the custom seating businesses of Ottobock.
WASHINGTON – Alex Azar, the nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has verbally agreed to work with congressional leaders to address issues that are negatively impacting the HME industry.
During a Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 9, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., asked Azar if he would work with the Office of Management and Budget to “quickly approve” an interim final rule that would provide relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program in non-bid areas. The rule has been sitting at the OMB since October.
“Yes, senator, I would be happy to work on those issues,” Azar told Thune.
The IFR would extend a delay to a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas to Aug. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018.
Thune, a member of the influential Finance Committee, has been a long-time champion for the industry’s efforts to provide relief to non-bid areas. Last year, he spearheaded a sign-on letter in the Senate asking then HHS Secretary Tom Price to use his regulatory authority to provide relief. It garnered 48 signatures.
During the hearing, Thune also asked Azar if he would also work to complete a report on beneficiary access required by the 21st Century Cures Act. He said HHS was supposed to complete the report by Jan. 12, 2017.
Permobil further expands custom seating biz
LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil will acquire the business assets of OBSS and NUTEC, Ottobock’s custom seating businesses, it announced Jan. 10.
The deal will further expand Permobil’s offering in the seating and positioning market in the U.S. and Canada, company officials say.
“We see tremendous potential in custom seating to improve health outcomes and achieve clinical objectives for individuals with complex needs,” says Tom Borcherding, president of Permobil Seating and Positioning.
Complementing the deal, Permobil has recently established a dedicated and clinically focused sales team in the U.S. to better support its seating and positioning business.
Permobil expects the deal to close by the end of the month.
This is the third acquisition Permobil has made in the seating and positioning market in the past few years. Most recently, in October, the company announced it had acquired Bozeman, Mont.-based Comfort Company. In 2015, Permobil acquired Belleville, Ill.-based The ROHO Group.
ResMed debuts Mobi
SAN FRANCISCO – ResMed has formally introduced its first portable oxygen concentrator to the market. The company says Mobi will be available to U.S. patients through their HME providers later this quarter, and it is pursuing clearance to sell in other countries in 2018. “We have focused decades of patient-centered ResMed technology and design innovation into this POC," said ResMed CEO Mick Farrell. "We've achieved great mobility, comfort and therapy quality in sleep apnea treatment with AirMini, the world's smallest PAP device. Mobi offers that same great balance to the many millions of people who rely on supplemental oxygen to enjoy their highest quality of life." ResMed technically entered the home oxygen therapy market in 2016 when it bought Austin, Texas-based Inova Technologies, the manufacturer of the LifeChoice Activox, an ultra-light POC, and the Activox DUO2, an integrated stationary and POC system.
Philips embeds telehealth services into solutions
AMSTERDAM and BOSTON – Royal Philips and American Well, a telehealth provider, have signed a new strategic partnership to jointly deliver virtual care solutions around the world. Through the partnership, the two companies will work to embed American Well’s mobile telehealth services into an array of Philips solutions, spanning personal health and wellness, population health management and clinical programs. “Philips brings great consumer professional devices and programs, coupled with powerful analytics,” said Ido Schoenberg, M.D., chairman and CEO of American Well. “With the addition of telehealth, they can now offer everything from data collection to care provision and clinical intervention.” The first Philips solution to have American Well’s mobile telehealth services embedded in it: the uGrow parenting app. American Well is the telehealth infrastructure behind the largest payers, hospitals and employers in the U.S., which collectively service more than 150 million Americans, Philips says. “American Well already collaborates with many of the largest insurers and healthcare providers in the U.S., offering great opportunities for joint business development with the aim to create a better patient experience in this important new area of digital healthcare delivery,” said Jeroen Tas, chief innovation & strategy officer at Philips.
Second CGM receives Medicare approval
ABBOTT PARK, Ill. – The FreeStyle Libre System is the second continuous glucose monitoring system approved for Medicare coverage. The Abbott-manufactured system requires no user calibration, reading glucose levels via a sensor worn on the upper arm. Users simply wave a reader over the sensor to get a reading. CMS in early 2017 approved certain CGMs as DME as long as they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in place of a blood glucose monitor for making treatment decisions. The first such system approved: the Dexcom 5.
SoClean scales with investment backing
OXFORD, Mass. – SoClean, which makes CPAP sanitizing devices, has secured investment backing from DW Healthcare Partners. The funding will allow SoClean, which quadrupled sales in 2017, to scale the company, according to a press release. “DW Healthcare Partners is ideally suited to take us to the next level,” said Robert Wilkins, CEO of SoClean. “Their seasoned healthcare investment team is dedicated to accelerating SoClean's growth to maximize our value. We are confident that the best is yet to come for SoClean in 2018 and beyond.” Toronto-based DW Healthcare Partners is a healthcare-focused private equity firm that specializes in scaling mid-sized companies. “SoClean has revolutionized the way that CPAP machines are cleaned,” said Andrew Carragher, co-founder and managing partner of DW Healthcare Partners. “We are excited to back a product that provides such substantial value to its users.”
Invacare seeks another move to France
ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare is considering relocating the production of Küschall manual wheelchairs from its facility in Witterswil, Switzerland, to its facility in Fondettes, France, according to a Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Jan. 11. Invacare hopes to complete the move, which it believes will allow it to better optimize the Fondettes facility, by mid-year 2018. By Swiss law, however, Invacare must first perform a “consultation procedure” with the potentially affected employees. That procedure is expected to last through Jan. 30. Invacare announced plans to shift production of its Invacare Rea manual wheelchairs from its facility in Dïo, Sweden, to its facility in Fondettes in July 2017.
Goalie Jim Craig joins Numotion’s team
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Numotion has announced a three-year partnership with U.S. Hockey “Miracle on Ice” goalie Jim Craig. The company is bringing in Craig to create motivational content for its website to inspire customers and employees, and to help create awareness for issues of those living with mobility disabilities. “In my years as a motivational speaker, I’ve learned that the power of dreaming, setting goals and having determination does indeed make a difference in a person’s outlook on life,” said Craig, a U.S. Hockey gold medalist. “There’s power in hope and I look forward to bringing just that to Numotion’s customers, employees and anyone faced with challenges.” Craig first became involved with Numotion when he was invited to speak at the company’s annual National Leadership Conference. Craig also accompanied Numotion leadership to Capitol Hill to help shine a light on the importance of complex rehab technology.
Ottobock to partner with para-athletes
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ottobock will provide equipment to para-athletes at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, it announced today. “Our team of experts incorporating orthotics and prosthetics professionals, wheelchair technicians and welders, will be available to repair and service prostheses, orthoses and wheelchairs so the athletes can concentrate fully on their performance in the competition,” said Thomas Much, Ottobock managing director, in a press release. Ottobock is the longest serving partner to the Paralympic Games.
NRRTS seeks nominations
LUBBOCK, Texas – NRRTS is accepting nominations for four awards: the Leadership Award, Distinguished Service Award, Consumer Advocate Award and Simon Margolis Award. “The NRRTS board of directors wish to recognize certain individuals and groups who have contributed to the advancement of CRT through leadership, advocacy or distinguished service,” the organization stated. NRRTS will accept nominations until midnight on Feb. 28 and will present the awards at the 2018 NRRTS/NCART Conference in Washington, D.C., on April 25. For more information, including award requirements, go here.
Short takes: BioScrip, Rotech
Denver-based BioScrip can now dispense and administer HEMLIBRA, a treatment for routine prophylaxis approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug helps to prevent or reduce the frequency of bleeding episodes in adult and pediatric patients with hemophilia A with factor VIII inhibitors. “BioScrip continues to expand our therapy offering to better care for the patients that we support,” said Robert Roose, senior vice president and chief procurement officer. “Receiving the approval to dispense and administer HEMLIBRA underscores the fact that BioScrip is a destination of choice for our manufacturers.” BioScrip will provide HEMLIBRA in the patient’s home or in an infusion setting, depending on the patient’s care plan and conditions….Made4Net, a global provider of supply chain software solutions, has released a case study showing how Rotech Healthcare optimized its inventory levels and fulfillment process using WarehouseExpert WMS. Where Made4net made the biggest difference: inventory accuracy and visibility. Rotech’s previous manual reporting inserted delays and could lead to inaccurate counts. “It was all manual, so we didn’t have a way to see our current inventory in real time,” said Rotech’s inventory supervisor. “The best we could do was a day behind, and much of the time it wasn’t completely accurate, but we started cycle counting with the new system five months ago and we are now at 99.8% accuracy.”
People news: Merits Health, Philips Respiratory
Cape Coral, Fla.-based Merits Health Products has promoted Kevin Liu to president and Chris Blackmore to vice president of sales and business development. Liu has helped the company launch two new divisions, Avid Rehab for complex rehab and Pilot for home accessibility. He has also helped the company open new distribution centers and increase internal operating efficiencies. For his part, Blackmore has helped Merits increase sales by 300% in the past three years… Brent Shafer, CEO of North America operations for the Netherlands-based Royal Philips, will become CEO of Cerner on Feb. 1, according to news reports. In 12 years at Philips North America, Shafer helped “a mature and heavily diversified company develop and strengthen its healthcare focus,” said Cerner’s interim CEO and chairman Cliff Illig. Cerner, based in Kansas City, provides health information technologies to more than 27,000 provider facilities worldwide.
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota has joined the prior authorization bandwagon, but there’s a wrinkle.
On Jan. 1, South Dakota’s Medicaid program began requiring prior authorizations for most mobility devices, as is the case for Medicaid programs in most states and for Medicare in a number of states. But South Dakota will also require prior authorizations for repairs or replacement of parts or accessories.
“Our main concern is for the repairs,” said Cindy Coy, the business office manager for home health, hospice and HME for Avera Home Medical Equipment in Sioux Falls, and the South Dakota chairwoman for the Midwest Association of Medical Equipment Services. “The question we can’t get answered is, how long will it take to get prior authorizations?”
The state will require prior authorizations for: repairs or replacement of parts or accessories if the submitted combined charges for parts and labor will be $1,000 or more; for repairs or replacement of parts or accessories that are less than 365 days old; and for miscellaneous parts billed with HCPCS code K0108 when the submitted charge for the part will be $400 or more.
To get wheelchair users “back up and running” in a timely fashion, the state’s turnaround time for approving prior authorizations for repairs would have to be within 24 hours, Coy says.
“If something breaks, we need to take care of it right away,” she said. “I don’t even think repairs should be included.”
Whether or not states require prior authorizations for repairs varies from state to state, says Don Clayback, and for those that do, he emphasizes the need to create reasonable thresholds. For example: Maybe a state doesn’t require prior authorizations for the first two batteries in a 12-month period, but it does for anything over and above that.
“That way the provider can make these repairs in a timely manner and it doesn’t tie up the administrative process,” said Clayback, executive director of NCART.
While Coy has concerns about requiring prior authorizations for repairs, she approves of the process, in general.
“We put out some high-end wheelchairs and there are a lot of dollars included in that,” she said. “If we can get a prior authorization, we feel much better about providing that chair and knowing we’re going to get paid for it.”
Editor’s note: In last week’s HME Newswire, we ran the story, “Subcontracting exacerbates problems with bid program.” This is a follow-up.
AMARILLO, Texas – Healthcare attorney Jeff Baird says no provider likes subcontracting agreements; nevertheless, there are a large number of them out there.
“Because reimbursement is so low, to take that reimbursement and split it between two companies doesn’t add up,” he said. “It’s a lose-lose.”
But contract suppliers want to make up for that low reimbursement with additional volume, and subcontractors want to hold on to their referral sources, so here we are.
Here’s what Baird had to say about how these agreements should be set up.
In a perfect world
“We have the contractor ABC and the subcontractor XYZ. ABC talks with the doctor; they get the order in; they make the decision as to whether or not the patient meets the medical necessity criteria. So ABC is the one that goes through the mental process. Then they call XYZ and say, ‘OK, you need to take care of Mrs. Smith,’ and XYZ does the heavy lifting. They deliver equipment; they educate Mrs. Smith and set her up; they handle repair and maintenance. ABC then bills Medicare, gets paid and pays XYZ.”
“XYZ doesn’t want to lose their referral sources for bid products and non-bid products, and doctors want one-stop shops. So the XYZs look at the CBIC website, see who the winners are and call them and say, ‘We see that you have a contract for this CBA; I want to be your subcontractor.’ Here’s the hook: They also say, ‘I’ll send you all kinds of patients.’ Doctors are loyal to XYZ, so they’re going to continue to refer to XYZ, and XYZ is going to send patients to ABC.”
Here’s where it gets dicey
“The CBIC wants the referrals to go through ABC, not XYZ. Well, the subcontractors fudge that a little bit and often referrals do flow through subcontractors to contract suppliers. If the CBIC determines that, they might come in and say, don’t do that.”
“The other area that’s a problem is if XYZ says to ABC, ‘Here’s everything; just bill for it.’ You can’t do that. If XYZ is doing everything, including the intake, and all ABC is doing is submitting a claim, that’s a sham. It’s critical that ABC has skin in the game.”
“The gold standard would be for ABC to pay a fixed annual fee to XYZ, say $4,000 a month or $48,000 a year, to perform subcontract services. The silver standard is to actually have a fee schedule, a set dollar amount for each service rendered. It’s not high risk, but it’s not as clean as the gold standard.”
WASHINGTON – The sale of medical devices over the Internet without a required prescription is nothing new, but with the possibility of Amazon getting into the HME market in a bigger way, stakeholders say the industry needs to take a harder line against them.
The issue reared its head recently, when providers in North Dakota were able to obtain CPAP devices though third-party sellers without a prescription. Such sales typically violate state and federal laws, as well as Amazon’s own rules.
“We have the specific record of the complete sale in North Dakota and we plan to go on record with Amazon with concerns about the illegal sale,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “Specifically, we are working on putting a letter together for Amazon and other regulatory agencies noting a potential violation of federal and state law in connection.”
AAHomecare announced in December that it has retained outside counsel to develop a strategy to curb illegal online sales of DME.
Such sales are nothing new, says provider John Goodman.
“We have written to states when we’ve bought items from Amazon, saying these companies are ignoring federal and state laws, and we had no response,” said Goodman, a co-owner of CPAP.com, a Houston-based online provider. “Nobody asked for us for a prescription, and it wasn’t a mistake or accident.”
As an HME provider who must follow a mountain of rules and regulations, Goodman says it’s particularly vexing because Amazon doesn’t appear to be held to the same standard, even in Texas, where it has a large distribution center.
“Texas is on us constantly about prescriptions,” he said. “They regularly come in and want all the files for the last 12 months, and they look through to see if you’ve got prescriptions.”