How Medicare recoups money during the post-payment audit appeals process | Scientists identify skin cells that transmit sense of touch | LSU scientists transform sugar byproduct into plastic for possible prosthetic use
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April 8, 2014
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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How Medicare recoups money during the post-payment audit appeals process
Following a Medicare post-payment audit, Medicare will send a demand letter for repayment, and interest will start to accrue on the amount owed from that time forward, according to Devon Bernard, assistant director of coding reimbursement, programming and education for AOPA. Unless the overpayment is paid back in full within 41 days, Medicare will withhold payment on future claims until the principal and interest are repaid. You can postpone the recoupment process -- but not interest accrual -- by submitting a request for appeal or, later in the process, a reconsideration request, he writes. If your appeal is successful, Medicare must pay back any interest it has received from you. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (4/2014)
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Scientists identify skin cells that transmit sense of touch
Columbia University researchers have found that Merkel cells in the skin interact with neurons to impart the sensations of touch, including the ability to sense textures and fine details. The scientists experimented with mice in a process known as optogenetics, which uses light to switch neurons on and off. The study, which could open the way for development of a new generation of touch-sensitive prostheses. appeared in the journal Nature. Medical News Today (4/7)
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LSU scientists transform sugar byproduct into plastic for possible prosthetic use
The Audubon Sugar Institute at Louisiana State University has discovered that aconitic acid, found in cane and sweet sorghum juices, can be reformulated into a versatile polyester or plastic material that has potential in skin and bone-tissue engineering. The plastic products, which would be both biodegradable and nontoxic, might have a variety of applications for prosthetic limbs and organs. The Charlotte Observer (N.C.)/The Associated Press (4/5), The Advertiser (Lafayette, La.) (4/7)
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Medical News
Researcher develops soy-based skin to aid wound healing
A biomedical engineer at Philadelphia's Temple University has fabricated a unique wound dressing -- a mat of soy protein manufactured by a process called electrospinning -- that could be used to treat such hard-to-heal wounds as burns and diabetic foot ulcers. The product, called OmegaSkin, employs bioactive peptides and can serve as a scaffold to promote skin growth. Trials using pigs suggest that OmegaSkin, which has yet to be approved by the FDA, can heal with less scarring and infection. The Philadelphia Inquirer (4/6)
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Legislative and Regulatory
Business associate agreements must be compliant by Sept. 23
Business associate agreements, or BAAs, must be compliant with the new Omnibus Rule by Sept. 23 or their expiration date, whichever comes first, writes Devon Bernard, AOPA assistant director of coding reimbursement, programming and education. Business associates are defined as bodies that deal with protected health information, such as credentialing organizations, third-party billers and clearinghouses. In this article, Bernard reviews situations in which a BAA is required and details 10 elements of a compliant BAA. O&P Almanac (Adobe Flash required) (4/2014)
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3M more Americans gain Medicaid, CHIP coverage through ACA
More than 3 million additional people across 46 states had signed up for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program by Feb. 28 compared with October of last year, bringing the total to about 61 million, according to a CMS report released Friday. "The increase in Medicaid enrollments across the country is encouraging, but more work is left to do to ensure that the millions of uninsured Americans eligible for these programs gain coverage," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/4), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (4/4), Politico (Washington, D.C.) (4/4)
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Other News
Trend Watch
Quadruple amputee climbs Matterhorn
Scottish mountain climber and quadruple amputee Jamie Andrew reached the summit of the Matterhorn, a climb of 2.1 miles that is thought to be one of the most dangerous in the Alps. Andrew lost his hands and feet after being trapped four days in a blizzard on Mont Blanc 15 years ago. His next challenge: the sheer rock face of El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park. The Inquisitr (4/6)
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Other News
Breaking news from AOPA
Implementation of ICD-10 code sets has been delayed for one year -- get the scoop! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a provider HIPAA Compliance Tool -- check it out! The next Coding & Billing Seminar is moving to Boston -- start registering now for this hot meeting! This year's technical fabrication contest is to fabricate a lower extremity orthosis that best reflects the entrant's interpretation of "Energy" and how it applies to O&P -- enter now! OPAF has announced a deadline for Dale Yasukawa Scholarship applications – all of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
April 9:  How to Use Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABNs) Effectively (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.
May 14:
  Modifiers: How & When to Use Them (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online.
June 12-13: Mastering Medicare: Coding & Billing Seminar, Boston, Mass. Learn more or register online.
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If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error."
-- John Kenneth Galbraith,
Canadian-American economist
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