HME News Staff

WASHINGTON – The Council for Quality Respiratory Care this week urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would delay steep cuts to reimbursement for home oxygen.

The Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act would reinstate the phase-in period of cuts to soften the blow on suppliers.

“It’s time for leaders in the House and Senate to work together to enact the critical provisions of the bill,” said Dan Starck, CQRC chairman, in a release. “It remains clear that more time is needed to adequately measure and monitor the impact of earlier cuts that took effect on Jan. 1 before Medicare implements deeper cuts on home respiratory care.”

In July, the Senate began a “hotline process” to pass an amended version of H.R. 5210, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives earlier in the month, but that effort failed.

Lawmakers, patient groups, physicians and health systems have voiced growing concerns with the impact of the program on beneficiary access.

Lincare hit with another overtime-related lawsuit

PHILADELPHIA – Jeffrey Sawyer has filed a class action lawsuit against Health Care Solutions at Home and Lincare, alleging the companies failed to properly compensate him for all the hours he worked, according to PennRecord.

Sawyer, who filed a complaint on Oct. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that he worked for more than 40 hours per week without being paid overtime compensation, and that the companies failed to properly figure base pay and maintain correct records, according to PennRecord, which cover’s Pennsylvania’s legal system.

Sawyer requests a trial by jury, and seeks damages, liquidated damages, court costs, interest and any further relief the court grants, PennRecord says.

This isn’t the first time Lincare has been hit with such a lawsuit: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled in August that non-exempt employees who work in California for Alpha Respiratory and Lincare could proceed with their lawsuit* as a class action. Honorable Judge Morrison England ruled that non-exempt employees who worked for the companies in California since Oct. 21, 2010, can seek back overtime wages and premiums for missed meal breaks.

The lawsuit in California alleges Alpha Respiratory and Lincare failed to pay their hourly employees in California overtime wages, failed to provide the legally mandated meal and rest breaks, and failed to provide accurate wage statements required by state law.

Vertess closes multiple deals in Q3

TUCSON, Ariz. – Vertess, a healthcare M&A advisory firm, closed two major healthcare transactions in the third quarter, it announced yesterday.

Vertess represented Metro-Med, Inc., a Burbank, Calif.-based specialty provider of respiratory equipment and related services, in an acquisition by Good Night Medical, LLC, a Cleveland-based DME company with additional operations in Arkansas, Texas and Massachusetts.

Vertess also represented Integrity Medical, a Savannah, Ga.-based provider of complex rehabilitation technology, in an acquisition by National Seating & Mobility, a national provider based in Franklin, Tenn.

"Both of these acquisitions were very beneficial to our clients, as well as the buyers, who were able to strategically expand in core areas they had identified," said Bradley Smith, Vertess managing director/partner.

Also in the third quarter, Vertess represented Alpine Investors in its acquisition of Acumen, a provider of fiscal agent services based in Mesa, Ariz.

Vertess has expertise in diverse healthcare and human service verticals, ranging from behavioral healthcare, substance abuse treatment and cognitive disabilities, to DME, home care/hospice, urgent care centers and other specialized services and products.

Inogen makes list for third time

GOLETA, Calif. – Inogen has been named one of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North Americaby Deloitte Technology. It’s the third year in a row that Inogen, which saw its revenue grow 227% between 2012 and 2015, has made the list. "It is an honor to be named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 for the third year in a row,” said CEO Raymond Huggenberger in a release. “We believe that the awareness of our innovative oxygen concentrators continues to expand among oxygen therapy patients and homecare providers, and that is a primary driver fueling our growth across all of our sales channels."The company reported total revenues of $54.4 million for the third quarter of 2016.

Philips wants you to #BreatheBoldly

AMSTERDAM – In honor of World COPD Day on Nov. 16, Royal Philips has launched Breathe Boldly, a campaign that encourages people to post a photo or video of themselves on social media that shows them performing an activity while breathing through a straw. People are asked to use the hashtags #BreatheBoldly and #COPD. The campaign is meant to raise awareness of COPD and show support for those living with the disease, which causes more than 3 million deaths each year. “We’re hopeful that Breathe Boldly will not only increase global awareness of the disease, but also help people better identify symptoms of COPD, and gain a better understanding of what it is like to live with this disease that impacts so many people worldwide,” said John Frank, general manager for Philips Sleep & Respiratory Care.

Cryogenic to invest $1 million in Hoosier state

INDIANAPOLIS – Cryogenic Solutions announced this morning that it plans to double its footprint here, according to local news reports. The company says it will invest $1 million to increase its headquarters from 15,000 to 30,000 square feet and create up to 31 new jobs. The company, which repairs home medical equipment, in September acquired Inventory Solutions, a national supplier of refurbished respiratory products based in New York.

Inspire Medical raises $37M for sleep apnea device

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – Inspire Medical Systems has accumulated $37.5 million in venture funding as it prepares to increase sales of its pacemaker-sized, implantable device used to treat sleep apnea. New York-based investor Amazak Health led the round of funding, CEO Tim Herbert told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Previous investors, including OrbiMed Advisors and Medtronic, also participated in the round. The company received $12.5 million a few weeks ago and will get the rest next year. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved the device, which uses electrical pulses to prevent the tongue from collapsing and blocking a patient’s airway, for sale in the U.S. Inspire generated about $8 million in revenues last year and expects sales of $16 million in 2016. It has 80 employees.

Driver group seeks to halt sleep screening rule

WASHINGTON – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed a challenge against a 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation rule that altered the driver medical examination process to include sleep apnea screening, according to Overdrive Magazine. In a challenge filed Nov. 11 with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, OOIDA claims the DOT sidestepped the regulatory process for requiring sleep apnea screening by slipping a provision into the final rule but not the proposed rule, the magazine reported. OOIDA seeks to vacate the rule either in part or in whole, according to Overdrive. The rule was made final by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in April 2015, the magazine reported.

Hoboken train crash caused by driver’s undiagnosed sleep apnea

HOBOKEN, N.J. – The engineer of the NJ Transit train that killed one woman and injured more than 100 others when it slammed into Hoboken Station has severe sleep apnea, according to his lawyer. A spokesperson for the New Jersey Transit said he could not confirm whether or not Thomas Gallagher had sleep apnea, but that the agency had a sleep apnea screening program, according to news reports. Gallagher’s lawyer, Jack Arseneault, said, New Jersey Transit gave Gallagher a physical exam in July and declared him fit for duty, but that he was an “extremely heavy man” with a large neck circumference. “I believe common sense indicates that a person like that could be subject to suffering from adult sleep apnea,” Arseneault told the New York Times. The Federal Railroad Administration said it would soon issue a safety advisory to push railroads to tackle worker fatigue and to install cameras in locomotives.

Convaid seeks ambassadors

TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid seeks applications to join its 2017 class of ambassadors. Ambassadors are volunteers who share insights and experiences with the greater Convaid community online, at school functions, at dealer events, in support groups, and at Abilities Expos or other special needs gatherings. “Our engagement as Convaid ambassadors has been a great opportunity for us,” said Ashley Cervara, whose daughter Sammy uses a Convaid Cruiser. “We met so many helpful people along the way and it has given us so many opportunities to help inform other families living within the autism spectrum.” The deadline to apply to be an ambassador is Dec. 31. Ambassadors serve a one-year term, then elect whether or not to continue as an ambassador emeritus.

Better management of diabetes leads to fewer re-admissions, study says

WALTHAM, Mass. – Two new studies validate the ability of Glytec’s eGlycemic Management System to reduce readmissions for patient populations at the center of new at-risk and value-based reimbursement models, the company says. Both studies, presented earlier this month at the Diabetes Technology Meeting, compare outcomes of cardiovascular patients receiving care with eGMS to outcomes of those receiving standard care. The data shows cardiovascular patients receiving care with eGMS return to the hospital far less frequently, with reductions in risk-adjusted 30-day readmissions as high as 68%. The basis for the studies was a system-wide glycemic initiative launched by Mountain States Health Alliance, which operates 13 hospitals. Like most health systems, the alliance has been challenged to initiate timely therapy for patients with undocumented, undiagnosed or stress-induced diabetes. One of the key benefits of eGMS is a GlucoSurveillance module that alerts care teams to patients with blood glucose outside a designated range. Glytec specializes in integrated inpatient and outpatient technologies for diabetes care.

Sleep apnea impairs blood pressure regulation

KELOWNA, British Columbia – Sleep apnea has an immediate negative impact on blood pressure, according to a new study. Just six hours of fluctuating oxygen levels associated with sleep apnea impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure, say researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. The study, in which healthy young adults wore ventilating masks for six hours and had their oxygen levels alternated to mimic apnea symptoms, also found damaging blood flow patterns in the legs, which could ultimately impact vascular health.

POC market poised to grow

VALLEY COTTAGE, N.Y. – The global portable oxygen concentrators market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.8% in terms of revenue over the forecast period 2016-26, according to Future Market Insights. “Rising prevalence of COPD, growing consumer awareness of oxygen therapy devices and changing consumer lifestyle are reasons (that) have escalated demand for portable oxygen concentrators in the near future,” the consulting firm says. Future Market Insights also credits adoption of new technologies and rising investment by companies manufacturing homecare products as reasons for the revved up growth. Among the various products in the POC market, pulse-flow POCs will grow at a CAGR of 9% and is the more preferred product. Some of the top companies operating in the POC market are Koninklijke Philips N.V., Inogen, Chart Industries, Resmed, Invacare, Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Precision Medical, Besco Medical Co., Oxus America, Foshan Keyhub Electronic Industries Co., O2 Concepts and GCE Group.

Short Takes: Wearever Incontinence, Kaiser Wells, Special Needs Group

Wearever Incontinence welcomed Marchese Medical Supplies to their office to help better understand how Prime Life Fibers markets the Wearever product line in the United States. Marchese, a Canadian distributor, recently added Wearever to its product offerings ... Kaiser Wells Pharmacy & Home Care is now Kaiser Community Pharmacy & Home Medical Equipment, a part of the Fisher-Titus Health system. Operating under the new name of Kaiser Community Pharmacy, pharmacists and other staff members will remain on staff. The business will continue to offer home medical equipment, home respiratory therapy and rehabilitation services, as well as a full-service pharmacy…Special Needs Group, an equipment rental provider, celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Certified Accessible Travel Advocate Program on Nov. 11. The program allows travel professionals to become knowledgeable about the accessible travel market segment through online study and testing. To date, 3,131 travel professionals are SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocates.

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