Home health payment cuts are forcing one large industry player to close nearly 50 offices and lay off hundreds of employees, reducing the availability of home care services for seniors.
Gentiva Health Services (NASDAQ:GTIV), the largest home health provider in the U.S., announced Thursday that it would be shuttering 46 of its home care locations nationwide, according to remarks made by the company’s Vice President of Sales Support, Marketing and National Accounts during a home health industry event February 6.
The remarks were also disclosed in an 8-K filing from the company, which also expressed that Gentiva expects to lose “hundreds of clinicians and other health care professionals” as a result of the closings.
Currently, the company employs 14,600 workers and has 430 branch offices in 40 states.
A finalized rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will cut home health Medicare payments by as much as 14% over the next three years was cited as key a contributor to Gentiva’s decision.
“Home health care represents the most cost effective benefit to seniors in Medicare today,” a Gentiva spokesman told SHN in an email. “But as we previously indicated, if the four year reduction of reimbursement rates expected under CMS ‘rebasing’ continues across the industry, seniors will lose access to home healthcare – and costs will go up because seniors will have to resort to more expensive care options such as Emergency Rooms and hospital stays.”
There has been speculation that CMS rebasing cuts, as outlined under the Home Health Prospective Payment System, could offer ripe consolidation opportunities for senior living providers looking to capitalize on depressed assets.
“We need to save home health by seeking Administrative relief from the significant rate reductions under rebasing,” Gentiva’s spokesman said.
Written by Jason Oliva