Senate investigates home health companies
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.