Home in­va­sion

Se­nate in­ves­ti­gates home health com­pa­nies

Modern Healthcare - - Cover Story -

As Gen­tiva Health Ser­vices works to close its pur­chase of hospice provider Odyssey Health­Care, the com­pany’s pri­mary busi­ness line of home health re­mains un­der scru­tiny from a Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion that be­gan ear­lier this month.

Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Max Bau­cus (D-Mont.) and rank­ing mem­ber Chuck Grass­ley (R-Iowa) are ex­am­in­ing the pro­ce­dures at four home-health com­pa­nies fol­low­ing a news re­port that sug­gested the agen­cies in­creased the num­ber of home­health vis­its on pur­pose to boost re­im­burse­ment rates. The two sen­a­tors sent letters to Gen­tiva Pres­i­dent and CEO Tony Strange; Wil­liam Borne CEO of Ba­ton Rouge, La.-based Amedisys; Wil­liam Yar­muth, chair­man, pres­i­dent and CEO of Al­most Fam­ily in Louisville, Ky.; and Keith My­ers, pres­i­dent and CEO of LHC Group in Lafayette, La., high­light­ing anal­y­sis from a Wall Street Jour­nal re­port that found as the Medi­care re­im­burse­ment rate for home health changed, com­pa­nies changed their busi­ness prac­tices to re­ceive higher re­im­burse­ments. The four com­pa­nies each re­leased sep­a­rate state­ments about the let­ter and all said they in­tend to co­op­er­ate with the Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Com­pa­nies that work with Medi­care should not be al­lowed to tar­get se­niors just be­cause they have Medi­care or ad­just the way they care for pa­tients sim­ply to in­crease prof­its,” Bau­cus said in a May 13 news re­lease that ac­com­pa­nied the let­ter.

The fed­eral in­quiry re­quires the com­pa­nies to pro­vide a wide range of in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing data from 2006 through 2009 that show the dis­tri­bu­tion in one-day in­ter­vals from one to 30 of ther­apy vis­its for ther­apy episodes; all in­ter­nal doc­u­ments, records and com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­lat­ing to the 2008 Medi­care pay­ment re­vi­sions for home health ther­apy vis­its from Jan. 1, 2007, to the present; and all in­ter­nal poli­cies and guide­lines re­gard­ing the num­ber of ther­apy vis­its pro­vided per home health episode.

The four com­pa­nies are re­quired to re­spond to the sen­a­tors’ re­quests by June 2.

—Jes­sica Zig­mond

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