A Medical Device Daily

The American Association for Homecare (Alexandria, Virginia) expects hundreds of homecare providers, patients and medical equipment manufacturers at its annual Washington Legislative conference, today and tomorrow at the J.W. Marriott in Washington.

Among top priorities for the association are bills to repeal the Medicare oxygen therapy changes passed in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) and a bill to amend competitive acquisition mandated by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA).

The homecare association is asking Congress to:

  • Support HR 5513, the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act of 2006. It repeals the provision of the Deficit Reduction Act that forces beneficiaries to own and assume responsibility for oxygen equipment. The association maintains that the DRA oxygen provision raises medical risks and does not save Medicare money.
  • Support the Hobson-Tanner bill, HR 3559, which amends the competitive bidding under MMA to ensure quality standards are in place, preserve patient access to homecare, and protect small providers.
  • Urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Baltimore) to use the alternative to gap-filling for setting the fee schedule for new power mobility codes.
  • Preserve the Medicare home health inflation update to strengthen access to care and offset technology, fuel and skilled labor costs.

Among the speakers at the gathering will be Rep. John Schwarz (R-Michigan), author of HR 5513.

The American Association for Homecare represents every line of service in the homecare community, including home medical equipment providers, home health care, respiratory and infusion therapy, telemedicine, rehab and assistive technology, and home hospice.

FDA nomination still on hold

Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach remains stalled as a hold on his nomination to lead the agency continues. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) recently said she would continue the stalemate that was initiated by her and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) to protest the FDA's failure to act on an application for over-the-counter sales of the Plan B contraceptive product.

A recent report on that controversy said former FDA commissioner Lester Crawford acknowledged that the agency had intended to allow such sales but had delayed its final decision while working on a rule to prohibit the product for anyone under 17 years of age.

Agency fights against counterfeits

The FDA recently announced new steps to combat counterfeit drugs. Among other things, the agency will require drug distributors to document the chain of custody of drug products, also known as their pedigree, throughout the distribution system.

The agency encouraged the use of electronic track-and-trace technology, such as radio frequency identification, which creates an electronic pedigree as a further safeguard against counterfeiting.

This effort corresponds to other recent safety-related measures announced by the agency, including its planned crackdown on drugs that are often part of products, even though they aren't supported by approvals under current regulatory standards.

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