Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have started an investigation of the operating procedures at four home-health agencies following a news report that suggests the agencies increased the number of home-health visits on purpose to boost reimbursement rates.
Lawmakers probing home-health agencies
In their letter to William Borne, CEO of Baton Rouge, La.-based Amedisys; William Yarmuth, chairman, president and CEO of Almost Family in Louisville, Ky.; Tony Strange, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Gentiva Health Services; and Keith Myers, president and CEO of LHC Group in Lafayette, La., the two senators highlighted 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.
“So far, it appears that either the home healthcare reimbursement policy is flawed, some companies are gaming the system, or both,” Grassley said in a news release.
The senators asked the companies to respond to a host of questions as well as provide all internal documents, records and communications related to the 2008 Medicare payment revisions for home therapy visits from Jan. 1, 2007, to the present.
The four agencies each released separate statements about the letter and all said they intend to cooperate with the Senate investigation. In its response, LHC Group said the Wall Street Journal article “assumes a static patient population when, in fact, due to growth resulting from consolidation, our home health patient population on Dec. 31, 2007, was 17,850 and on Dec. 31, 2008, our home health patient population was 26,613, an increase of 46.6%”
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