Home Health: cutting into flesh now

The CEO of Amedisys, one of the largest home health providers in the U.S. says that the industry would rather take the pain of Medicare home health payment cuts now rather than spread them out over several years.

“(The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has to realize they are cutting into flesh now,” Borne said, referring to the agency that reimburses provider costs for the elderly and poor covered by the government’s insurance plans.

Instead, the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, which includes Amedisys and peers such as Gentiva Health Inc, Almost Family and LHC Group Inc, is lobbying Washington to accelerate the 2012 cuts that are spread out until 2017.

“Bring it forward and deal with it now so we can move forward and be more proactive versus reactive,” said Borne, who has been chairman and CEO since founding the company in 1982.

If accelerated, the group believes this will help lift an overhang on the stocks, which would otherwise be under pressure for the next 5 years.

Interesting. I would assume that an industry would always prefer cuts spread over time hoping that the cuts could later be rescinded. In any event, the biggest bipartisan political blind spot on health care reform remains the fact that if we slow the rate of health care cost inflation, this will mean that either less care will be provided and/or providers will be paid less for such care, on a per capita basis. There are different ways to arrive, but this is the inevitable destination if we succeed in slowing health care cost inflation. There is no easy way out of our long term health care cost problem.

*Disclosure: I met and had lunch with Mr. Borne (CEO of Amedisys) at a round table event hosted by the Duke Institute on Care at the End of life in May, 2010. I don’t consider this a conflict but wanted to mention it.

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