Our weekly list of news, reports, and information about home health and hospice care. Learn about new studies, trends, CMS regulations and more.
Home health company LHC Group is expanding its Lafayette headquarters. Local media report that Gov. John Bel Edwards and LHC Group Chief Executive Keith Myers announced the expansion Friday. The move will create 500 new jobs. Those jobs are expected to have an average salary of $40,000 with benefits. The Advertiser reports the company was founded in 1994 in St. Landry Parish and has grown to 780 locations with 32,000 employees. The expansion will triple the size of the company's current home office and is expected to create as many as 400 temporary construction jobs. The Advocate reports that LHC Group last year acquired Kentucky-based Almost Family, making it the country's second-largest home health provider.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will presume that private residences in which Medicaid recipients receive hospice care and certain other services are in compliance with regulatory criteria for home- and community-based settings. In a letter to state Medicaid directors CMS Administrator Seema Verma issued new regulatory guidance on how CMS will interpret and enforce a Jan. 2014 final rule on home and community-based services. “Even well-intentioned policies from Washington often lack the flexibility needed to work for every state, community, setting or family,” Verma. “The implementing guidance issued under the prior administration was simply too prescriptive and unfairly singled out certain settings, causing unnecessary anxiety for many beneficiaries, families, and providers. We believe our revised guidance strikes the appropriate balance to protect individual choice while maintaining the integrity of home and community-based funding.”
Despite the legitimate anxieties of many hospice providers about the Medicare Advantage carve-in demonstration in 2021, some have expressed cautious optimism. “The success of Medicare Advantage in achieving better health outcomes for American seniors and people with disabilities highlights the importance of an integrated system,” Allyson Schwartz, president and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance said. “We are keenly interested in examining options and opportunities to enhance integration across the continuum of care for those who are terminally ill, including palliative care, hospice and end-of-life care.” Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and include HMO, PPO, and fee-for-service plans among other options. The program represents an integrated care model that promotes coordination of services and provides incentives for quality and patient satisfaction. Beginning in 2020, the program will be available in all 50 states as well as U.S. territories.
Humana (NYSE: HUM) is leaning further into home health care as a key area of focus, going as far as to label it “the new frontier in value-based medicine” during an investor day presentation Tuesday. “Our journey into the home is in full gear,” William Fleming, segment president of health care services at Humana, told analysts. “We believe these next few years will be an important period of time for us and powerful work as we transform the home into a comprehensive care delivery setting.” Humana is relatively new to home health care, but the insurer seems committed to making up for lost time: Along with private equity groups TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, Humana acquired Kindred at Home last year for $4.1 billion. The insurer and the same two PE groups also acquired Curo Health Services, combining the two businesses to effectively create the largest home health and hospice service provider in the U.S.