Form 10-K LHC Group, Inc For: Dec 31
- Wall Street ends lower as investors await earnings, inflation data
- Microsoft (MSFT) announces $19.7 billion acquisition of Nuance (NUAN)
- Alibaba (BABA) Gets a Record $2.8 Billion Anti-Monopoly Fine, Shares Soar as a 'Major Overhang' is Lifted
- Tesla (TSLA) Upgraded to 'Buy' at Canaccord Genuity and PT Raised by 155%, as it 'Holds a Several-Year Lead' in EV While Storage Business Accelerates
- Dollar drops as traders prepare for inflation data
Get instant alerts when news breaks on your stocks. Claim your 1-week free trial to StreetInsider Premium here.
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended
December 31, 2020
|TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from to
Commission file number:
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)||(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)|
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Exchange Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes ý No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Yes ý No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|☒||Accelerated filer||☐||Non-accelerated filer||☐||Smaller reporting company|
|Emerging growth company|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 (b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $
5.3 billion based on the closing sale price as reported on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. For purposes of this determination shares beneficially owned by officers, directors, and ten percent stockholders have been excluded, which does not constitute a determination that such persons are affiliates.
31,594,333 shares of common stock, $0.01 par value, outstanding as of February 24, 2021.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
LHC GROUP, INC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements|
|Item 1A.||Risk Factors|
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 3.||Legal Proceedings|
|Item 4.||Mine Safety Disclosures|
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities|
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data|
|Item 7.||Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
|Item 7A.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk|
|Item 8.||Financial Statements and Supplementary Data|
|Item 9.||Changes In and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure|
|Item 9A.||Controls and Procedures|
|Item 9B.||Other Information|
|Item 10.||Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance|
|Item 11.||Executive Compensation|
|Item 12.||Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters|
|Item 13.||Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence|
|Item 14.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services|
|Item 15.||Exhibits, and Financial Statement Schedules|
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K and the information incorporated by reference herein contain certain statements, including the potential future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our results of operations and liquidity, the potential impact of actions we have taken to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the expected benefit of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES Act") on our liquidity, and information that may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”). Forward-looking statements relate to future plans and strategies, anticipated events or trends, future financial performance, and expectations and beliefs concerning matters that are not historical facts or that necessarily depend upon future events. The words “may,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “foresee,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “intend,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Specifically, this Annual Report on Form 10-K contains, among others, forward-looking statements about:
•our expectations regarding financial condition or results of operations for periods after December 31, 2020;
•our critical accounting policies;
•our business strategies and our ability to grow our business;
•our participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs;
•the reimbursement levels of Medicare and other third-party payors, including changes in reimbursement resulting from regulatory changes;
•the prompt receipt of payments from Medicare and other third-party payors;
•our future sources of and needs for liquidity and capital resources;
•the effect of any regulatory changes or anticipated regulatory changes;
•the effect of any changes in market rates on our operations and cash flows;
•our ability to obtain financing;
•our ability to make payments as they become due;
•the outcomes of various routine and non-routine governmental reviews, audits, and investigations;
•our expansion strategy, the successful integration of recent acquisitions and, if necessary, the ability to relocate or restructure our current facilities;
•the value of our proprietary technology;
•the impact of legal proceedings;
•our insurance coverage;
•our competitors and our competitive advantages;
•our ability to attract and retain valuable employees;
•the price of our stock;
•our compliance with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations;
•our compliance with health care laws and regulations;
•our compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission laws and regulations and Sarbanes-Oxley requirements;
•the impact of federal and state government regulation on our business; and
•the impact of changes in or future interpretations of fraud, anti-kickback or other laws.
The forward-looking statements included in this report reflect our current views and assumptions only as of the date this report is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, we assume no responsibility and do not intend to release updates or revisions to forward-looking statements after the date they are made, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The occurrence of any of the events described in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and other events that we have not predicted or assessed, could have a material adverse effect on our earnings, financial condition, and business, and any such forward-looking statements should not be relied on as a prediction of future events.
We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by this cautionary statement. In addition, with respect to all of our forward-looking statements, we claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
You should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the information incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents filed as exhibits to this Annual Report on Form 10-K completely and with the understanding that our actual future results or achievements may differ materially from what we expect or anticipate.
Unless otherwise indicated, “LHC Group,” “we,” “us,” “our,” and “the Company,” refer to LHC Group, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
We provide quality, cost-effective post-acute health care services to our patients. As of December 31, 2020, we have
827 service providers in 35 states within the continental United States and the District of Columbia. Our services are classified into five segments: (1) home health services, (2) hospice services, (3) home and community-based services, (4) facility-based services, primarily offered through our long-term acute care hospitals ("LTACHs"), and (5) healthcare innovations ("HCI").
Our home health service locations offer a wide range of services, including skilled nursing, medically-oriented social services and physical, occupational, and speech therapy. The nurses, home health aides, and therapists in our home health agencies work closely with patients and their families to design and implement individualized treatment plans in accordance with a physician-prescribed plan of care. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 537 home health service locations, of which 322 are wholly-owned by us, 211 are majority-owned by us through equity joint ventures, two are under license lease arrangements, and the operations of the remaining two locations are managed by us.
Our hospices provide end-of-life care to patients with terminal illnesses through interdisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses, home health aides, counselors, and volunteers. We offer a wide range of services, including pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, inpatient and respite care, homemaker services, and counseling. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 120 hospice locations, of which 56 are wholly-owned by us, 62 are majority-owned by us through equity joint ventures, and two are under license lease arrangements.
Our home and community-based locations offer assistance with activities of daily living to elderly, chronically ill, and disabled patients, performed by skilled nursing and paraprofessional personnel. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 124 locations, of which 109 are wholly-owned by us and 15 are majority-owned by us through equity joint ventures.
Our LTACH locations provide services primarily to patients with complex medical conditions who have transitioned out of a hospital intensive care unit but whose conditions remain too severe for treatment in a non-acute setting. As of December 31, 2020, our LTACHs had 377 licensed beds. We operated 11 LTACHs with 12 locations, of which all but three are located within host hospitals. As part of our facility-based services segment, we also own and operate two skilled nursing facilities, one pharmacy, a rural health clinic, one physician practice, one family health center, and 16 physical therapy clinics. Of these 34 facility-based services locations, 23 are wholly-owned by us and 11 are majority-owned by us through equity joint ventures.
Our HCI segment reports on our developmental activities outside its other business segments. The HCI segment includes (a) Imperium Health Management, LLC, an Accountable Care Organization ("ACO") enablement and management company, (b) Long Term Solutions, Inc., an in-home assessment company serving the long-term care insurance industry, and (c) certain assets operated by Advance Care House Calls, which provides primary medical care for patients with chronic and acute illnesses who have difficulty traveling to a doctor's office. These activities are intended ultimately, whether directly or indirectly, to benefit our patients and/or payors through the enhanced provision of services in our other segments. The activities all share a common goal of improving patient experiences and quality outcomes, while lowering costs. They include, but are not limited to, items such as: technology, information, population health management, risk-sharing, care-coordination and transitions, clinical advancements, enhanced patient engagement and informed clinical decision and technology enabled in-home clinical assessments. We have 12 HCI locations, 11 of which are wholly-owned and one is controlled by us through an equity joint venture.
Our net service revenue by segment for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 was as follows (amounts in thousands):
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Home and Community-Based|
|Consolidated Net Service Revenue||$||2,063,204||$||2,080,241||$||1,809,963|
For further information regarding the financial performance of our segments, see Note 11 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our founders began operations in September 1994 as St. Landry Home Health, Inc. in Palmetto, Louisiana. After several years of expansion, our founders reorganized their business and began operating as Louisiana Healthcare Group, Inc. in June 2000. In March 2001, Louisiana Healthcare Group, Inc. reorganized and became a wholly owned subsidiary of The Healthcare Group, Inc., a Louisiana business corporation. In December 2002, The Healthcare Group, Inc. merged into LHC Group, LLC, a Louisiana limited liability company, with LHC Group, LLC being the surviving entity. In January 2005, LHC Group, LLC established a wholly owned Delaware subsidiary, LHC Group, Inc. and on February 9, 2005, LHC Group, LLC merged into LHC Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation with LHC Group, Inc. being the surviving entity. Our principal executive offices are located at 901 Hugh Wallis Road, South, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70508. Our telephone number is (337) 233-1307. Our website is www.lhcgroup.com. Information contained on our website is not part of or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our objective is to become the leading provider of in-home healthcare services in the United States, while also providing a complementary suite of other post-acute healthcare service offerings through our facility-based and HCI segments. To achieve this objective, we intend to:
Drive internal growth in existing markets. We intend to drive internal growth in our current markets by increasing the number of (health care) providers from whom we receive referrals and by expanding the breadth of our services in each market. We intend to achieve this growth by: (1) continuing to educate health care providers about the benefits of our services, (2) reinforcing the position of our agencies and facilities as community assets, (3) maintaining our emphasis on high-quality medical care for our patients, (4) identifying related products and services needed by our patients and their communities, and (5) providing a superior work environment for our employees.
Achieve margin improvement through the active management of costs. Net service revenue generated from Medicare is under the Patient Driven Groupings Model ("PDGM"), which is paid at pre-determined rates based upon the patient's clinical condition. Because our profitability in a fixed payment system depends upon our ability to manage the costs of providing care, we will continue to pursue initiatives to improve our margins and net income.
Expand into new markets. We intend to continue expanding into new markets by utilizing our point of care technology, developing de novo locations, and acquiring existing Medicare and/or Medicaid-certified agencies in attractive markets throughout the United States. We will also continue our unique strategy of partnering with hospitals and health systems, as these ventures provide significant return on investment. In addition, we plan to continue acquiring freestanding agencies that can serve as growth platforms in markets we do not currently serve in order to support our growth into new markets.
Pursue strategic acquisitions and develop joint ventures. We will continue to identify and evaluate opportunities for strategic acquisitions in new and existing markets that will enhance our market position, increase our referral base, and expand the breadth of services we offer. We will aim to continue entering into joint ventures with hospitals to provide our current post-acute care services to their patients upon discharge from the hospital setting.
We provide post-acute care services in the United States by providing quality, cost-effective health care services to patients within the comfort and privacy of their home, place of residence, or long-term acute care hospital facility. Our services can be broadly classified into five principal segments: (1) home health services, (2) hospice services, (3) home and community-based, (4) facility-based services offered through our LTACHs, and (5) HCI.
Home Health Services
Our registered nurses and licensed practical nurses provide a variety of medically necessary services to homebound patients who are suffering from acute or chronic illness, recovering from injury or surgery, or who otherwise require care, teaching or monitoring. These services include, but are not limited to:
•wound care and dressing changes,
•skilled observation and assessment, and
We have also designed proprietary clinical pathways to treat chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, low vision, spinal stenosis, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, complex wounds, and chronic pain. Through our medical social workers, we counsel patients and their families with regard to financial, personal, and social concerns that arise from a patient’s health-related problems. We provide skilled nursing, ventilator and tracheotomy services, extended care specialties, medication administration and management, and patient and family assistance and education. We also provide management services to third-party home nursing agencies, often as an interim solution until proper state and regulatory approvals for an acquisition can be obtained.
Our physical, occupational, and speech therapists provide therapy services to patients in their home. Our therapists coordinate multi-disciplinary treatment plans with physicians, nurses, and social workers to restore basic mobility skills such as getting out of bed and walking safely with crutches or a walker. As part of the treatment and rehabilitation process, a therapist will stretch and strengthen muscles, test balance and coordination abilities, and teach home exercise programs. Our therapists assist patients and their families with improving and maintaining a patient’s ability to perform functional activities of daily living, such as the ability to dress, cook, clean, and manage other activities safely in the home environment. Our speech and language therapists provide corrective and rehabilitative treatment to patients who suffer from physical or cognitive deficits or disorders that create difficulty with verbal communication or swallowing.
All of our home nursing agencies offer 24-hour personal emergency response system and support services through a third-party service provider ("PERS") for qualified patients who require intensive medical monitoring, but want to maintain an independent lifestyle. These services consist principally of a communicator that connects to the telephone line in the patient’s home and a personal help button worn or carried by the individual patient that, when activated, initiates a telephone call from the patient’s communicator to PERS's central monitoring facilities. Their trained personnel identify the nature and extent of the patient’s particular need and notify the patient’s family members, neighbors, and/or emergency personnel, as needed. We believe our use of this system increases patient satisfaction and loyalty by providing our patients a point of contact between scheduled nursing visits. As a result, we believe that we provide a more complete regimen of care management than our competitors in the markets in which we operate by offering this service to qualified patients as part of their home health plan of care.
Our Medicare-certified hospice operations provide a full range of hospice services designed to meet the individual physical, spiritual, and psychosocial needs of terminally ill patients and their families. Our hospice services are primarily provided in a patient’s home, but can also be provided in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital. The key services provided through our hospice agencies include pain and symptom management accompanied by palliative medication, emotional and spiritual support, inpatient and respite care, homemaker services, dietary counseling, and family bereavement counseling and social worker visits for up to 13 months after a patient’s death.
Home and Community-Based Services
Our home and community-based operations offer a wide range of services to patients in their home or in a medical facility. The services range from assistance with grooming, medication reminders, meal preparation, assistance with feeding, light housekeeping, respite care, transportation, and errand services.
LTACHs is a reporting unit within our Facility-Based services segment. Our LTACHs treat patients with severe medical conditions who require a high-level of care and frequent monitoring by physicians and other clinical personnel. Patients who receive our services in an LTACH have been diagnosed as being too medically unstable for treatment in a non-acute setting. For example, our LTACHs typically serve patients suffering from respiratory failure, neuromuscular disorders, cardiac disorders, non-healing wounds, renal disorders, cancer, head and neck injuries, and mental disorders. We also treat patients diagnosed with musculoskeletal impairments that restrict their ability to perform normal activities of daily living. As part of our facility-based services, we operate an institutional pharmacy, which focuses on providing a full array of services to our LTACHs, as well as other non-related facilities. We also operate two skilled nursing facilities, family health center, a rural health clinic, a physician practice, and physical therapy providers that staff both facilities and outpatient clinics.
Healthcare Innovations Services
Our HCI segment reports on our developmental activities outside our other business segments. The HCI segment includes (a) Imperium Health Management, LLC, an ACO enablement and management company, (b) Long Term Solutions, Inc., an in-home assessment company serving the long-term care insurance industry, and (c) certain assets operated by Advanced Care House Calls, which provides primary medical care for patients with chronic and acute illnesses who have difficulty traveling to a doctor’s office. These activities are intended ultimately, whether directly or indirectly, to benefit our patients and/or payors through the enhanced provision of services in our other segments. The activities all share a common goal of
improving patient experiences and quality outcomes, while lowering costs. They include, but are not limited to, items such as: technology, information, population health management, risk-sharing, care-coordination and transitions, clinical advancements, enhanced patient engagement and informed clinical decision and technology enabled in-home clinical assessments.
Financial information relating to the home health, hospice, home and community-based, facility-based, and HCI operating segments of our business, including their contributions to our net service revenue, operating income, and total assets for each of the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively, is found in Note 11 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our home health agencies are operated in one segment that is separated into multiple geographical regions and further separated into individual operating markets or clusters. Our hospice agencies are operated in one segment that is separated into multiple geographical regions. Our home and community-based agencies are operated in one segment separated into multiple geographic regions. Each of our home health and hospice agencies are staffed with experienced clinical home health and administrative professionals who provide a wide range of patient care services. Each of our home health agencies, hospice agencies, and home and community-based agencies are licensed and certified by the state and federal governments. As of December 31, 2020, 499 of our 537 home health service locations, 95 of our 120 hospice service locations, and five of our 12 LTACH locations were accredited by the Joint Commission, a nationwide commission that establishes standards relating to the facilities, administration, quality of patient care, and operation of medical staffs of hospitals. Those not yet accredited are working towards achieving this accreditation, a process which can take up to six months. As we acquire companies, we apply for accreditation 12 to 18 months after completing the acquisition.
Our facility-based service locations are operated in one segment separated into multiple geographic regions. Our facility-based services, through our LTACHs, follow a clinical approach under which each patient is discussed in weekly, multidisciplinary team meetings. In these meetings, patient progress is assessed and compared to goals and future goals are set. We believe that this model results in higher quality care and more predictable discharge patterns and avoids unnecessary delays.
Our home health service locations use our Service Value Point system, a proprietary clinical resource allocation model and cost management system. The system is a quantitative tool that assigns a target level of resource units to a group of patients based upon their initial assessment and estimated skilled nursing and therapy needs. The Service Value Point system allows the Director of Nursing or Branch Manager to allocate adequate resources throughout the group of patients assigned to his or her care to allow for them to provide the highest quality care possible.
Patient care is coordinated on-site at the agency level of each home health service, hospice service, and home and community-based location. All coding, medical records, case management, utilization review, and medical staff credentialing are provided on-site at the hospital level of each facility-based service location. Centralized functions such as payroll, accounting, financial reporting, billing, collections, regulatory and legal compliance, risk management, information technology, and general clinical oversight accomplished by periodic on-site surveys are provided from our home offices.
Our HCI business lines primarily provide assessments and related services to the long-term care insurance industry and management services to ACOs with over 400,000 Medicare lives under management.
Equity Joint Ventures
As of December 31, 2020, we had 83 equity joint ventures including 76 with hospital and health systems, which are comprised of over 350 hospitals, four with physicians, and three with other parties.
Our equity joint ventures are generally structured as limited liability companies in which we own a majority equity interest and our partner(s) own(s) a minority equity interest. At the time of formation, each party contributes capital to the equity joint venture in the form of cash or property. We believe that the amount contributed by each party to the equity joint venture represents their pro-rata portion of the fair market value of the equity joint venture, and we maintain processes to confirm and document those determinations. None of our equity joint venture partners are required to make or influence referrals to our equity joint ventures. In fact, agreements with our hospital joint venture partners require that they follow the same Medicare discharge planning regulations that, among other things, require the hospitals to offer each Medicare patient a list of available Medicare-certified home nursing agency options and to allow the patient to choose his or her own provider.
We structure our equity joint ventures as either manager-managed or board-managed. We control our manager-managed joint ventures, since LHC Group, Inc. is typically designated as the manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the joint venture. We control our board-managed joint ventures, since we typically hold a majority of the votes required to take board action and/or we control the senior officer positions, although a majority of our joint ventures require super majority board approval for certain actions. Our equity joint venture partners participate in the profits and losses of the joint venture in
proportion to their equity interests. Distributions from our equity joint ventures are made pro-rata based on percentage ownership interests and are not based on referrals made to the equity joint venture by any of the partners.
Most of our equity joint ventures include a buy/sell option that grants to us and our equity joint venture partners the right to require the other party to either purchase all of the exercising member’s membership interests or sell to the exercising member all of the non-exercising member’s membership interests, at the non-exercising member’s option, within 30 days of the receipt of notice of the exercise of the buy/sell option. In some instances, the purchase price under these buy/sell provisions is based on a multiple of the historical or future earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization of the equity joint venture at the time the buy/sell option is exercised. In other instances, the buy/sell purchase price will be negotiated by the parties but will be subject to a fair market valuation process.
The markets supporting post-acute care are highly fragmented. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (“MedPac”), an independent agency that advises Congress on various Medicare issues, there were approximately 11,566 Medicare-certified home nursing agencies in the United States in 2018. MedPac estimated that in 2017 approximately 17% of Medicare-certified home health agencies provided a majority of their services in rural areas, and 88% of agencies were proprietary. MedPac also disclosed that 4,488 hospice agencies were participating in the Medicare Program in 2017. We believe we are well positioned to build and maintain long-term relationships with local hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers and to become the highest quality post-acute provider in our markets. In our experience, because most rural areas do not have the population size to support more than one or two general acute care hospitals, the local community hospital often plays a significant role in rural market health care delivery systems. Rural patients who require home nursing frequently receive care from a small home care agency or an agency that, while owned and run by the local community hospital, is not an area of focus for that hospital. Similarly, patients in these markets who require services typically offered by LTACHs are more likely to remain in the community hospital because it is often the only local facility equipped to deal with severe and complex medical conditions. We choose to enter these rural markets through affiliations with local hospitals, since we typically experience significantly less competition for the services we provide.
As we expand into new markets, we may encounter competitors that have greater resources or greater access to capital. Generally, competition in our home health service markets comes from local and regional providers. These providers include facility- and hospital-based providers, visiting nurse associations, and nurse registries. We are unaware of any competitor offering our breadth of services and focusing on the needs of rural markets.
We believe our diverse service offerings, collaborative approach to working with health care providers, concentrated house of brands market strategy, our size as one of the nation's largest home care providers, business experience gained from focusing on rural markets, and patient-oriented operating model provide our principal competitive advantages over local providers.
Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement
The LHC Group Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Department, overseen by our Chief Clinical Officer, is responsible for formulating quality of care indicators, identifying performance improvement priorities, and facilitating best practices for quality care. Company-wide, we have adopted a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” methodology for our quality/performance improvement activities and initiatives. We also set forth a quality platform that reviews:
•performance improvement audits,
•Joint Commission accreditation,
•state and regulatory surveys,
•publicly reported quality data, and
•patient perception of care.
The Quality Department is also responsible for ensuring that the infrastructure of the quality initiatives throughout the Company is appropriate, overseeing and evaluating the effectiveness of the quality plans and initiatives, and recommending appropriate quality and performance improvement initiatives.
The Clinical Quality Committee of the Board of Directors is responsible for advising our clinical leadership, monitoring the performance of our locations based on internal and external benchmarks, overseeing and evaluating the effectiveness of the performance improvement and quality plans, facilitating best practices based on internal and external comparisons, and fostering enhanced awareness of clinical performance by the Board of Directors.
As part of our ongoing quality control, internal auditing, and monitoring programs, we conduct internal regulatory audits and mock surveys at each of our agencies and facilities at least once a year. If an agency or facility does not achieve a satisfactory rating, we require that it prepare and implement a plan of correction. We then follow-up to verify that all deficiencies identified in the initial audit and survey have been corrected.
As required under the Medicare conditions of participation, we maintain a continuous quality improvement program, which involves:
•ongoing education of staff and quarterly continuous quality improvement meetings at each of our agencies, facilities, and principal home offices,
•monthly comprehensive audits of patient charts performed at each of our agencies and facilities,
•at least annually, a comprehensive survey readiness assessment on each of our agencies and facilities,
•review of Home Health Compare scores,
•assessment of patients' and/or family members' perception of care using third party data, and
•assessment of infection control practices and risk events.
We constantly expand and refine our continuous quality improvement programs. Specific written policies, procedures, training, and educational materials and programs, as well as auditing and monitoring activities, have been prepared and implemented to address the functional and operational aspects of our business. Our programs also address specific areas identified for improvement through regulatory interpretation and enforcement activities. We believe our consistent focus on continuous quality improvement programs provide us with a competitive advantage in the markets we serve.
With the October 2020 Home Health Compare update, 82% of our providers were 4 Stars or above for the quality of care rating and 90% of our providers are at or above 4 stars for the HHCAPS (Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) star rating.
We have established and continually maintain a comprehensive compliance and ethics program that is designed to assist all of our employees to exceed applicable standards established by federal and state laws and regulations and industry practice. Our goal is to foster and maintain the highest standards of compliance, ethics, integrity, and professionalism in every aspect of our business dealings, and we utilize our compliance and ethics program to assist our employees toward achieving that goal.
The purpose of our compliance and ethics program is to promote and foster compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements, the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government healthcare programs, industry standards, our Code of Conduct and Ethics, and our other policies and procedures that support and enhance overall compliance within our Company. Our compliance and ethics program focuses on regulations related to the federal False Claims Act, the Stark Law, the federal Anti-Kickback Law, billing and overall adherence to health care regulations.
To ensure the independence of our compliance department staff, we have implemented the following:
•our Chief Compliance Officer reports to and has direct oversight by the Audit Committee and Quality Committee of the Board of Directors,
•our compliance department has its own operating budget, and
•our compliance department has the authority to independently investigate any compliance or ethical concerns, including, when deemed necessary, the authority to interview any company personnel, access any company property, including electronic communications, and engage counsel to assist in any investigation.
Among other activities, our compliance department staff is responsible for the following activities:
•drafting and revising the Company’s policies and procedures related to compliance and ethics issues,
•reviewing, making recommended revisions, disseminating and tracking attestations to our Code of Conduct and Ethics,
•measuring compliance with our policies and procedures, Code of Conduct and Ethics and legal and regulatory requirements related to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government healthcare programs, laws and regulations,
•developing and providing compliance-related training and education to all of our employees and, as appropriate, directors, contractors and other representatives and agents, including new-hire compliance training for all new employees, annual compliance training for all employees, sales compliance training to all members of our sales team, billing compliance training to all members of our billing and revenue cycle team and other job-specific and role-based compliance training of certain employees,
•performing an annual company-wide risk assessment,
•implementing an annual compliance auditing and monitoring work plan and performing and following up on various risk-based auditing and monitoring activities, including both clinical and non-clinical auditing and monitoring activities at the corporate level and at the local agency/facility level,
•developing, implementing and overseeing our Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) privacy and security compliance program,
•monitoring, responding to and overseeing the resolution of issues and concerns raised through our anonymous compliance hotline,
•monitoring, responding to and resolving all compliance and ethics-related issues and concerns raised through any other form of communication, and
•ensuring that we take appropriate corrective and disciplinary action when noncompliant or improper conduct is identified.
All employees are required to report incidents, issues or other concerns that they believe in good faith may be in violation of our Code of Conduct and Ethics, our policies and procedures, applicable legal and regulatory requirements or the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government health care programs. All employees are encouraged to either contact our Chief Compliance Officer directly or to contact our 24-hour toll-free compliance hotline when they have questions or concerns about any compliance or ethics issues. All reports to our compliance hotline are kept confidential to the extent allowed by law, and employees have the option to remain anonymous. When cases reported to our compliance hotline involve a compliance or ethics issue or any possible violation of law or regulation, the matter is referred to the compliance department for investigation. Retaliation against employees in connection with reporting compliance or ethical concerns is considered a serious violation of our Code of Conduct and Ethics, and, if it occurs, will result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
We continually expand and refine our compliance and ethics programs. We promote a culture of compliance, ethics, integrity and professionalism within the Company through persistent messages from our senior leadership concerning the necessity of strict compliance with legal requirements and company policies and procedures. We believe our consistent focus on our compliance and ethics program provides us with a competitive advantage in the markets we serve.
Technology and Intellectual Property
Technology plays a key role in the day-to-day operation of our business, our ability to grow our business organically and through acquisitions, and in maintaining effective managerial oversight and controls. The technology solutions we use are highly scalable. We believe that our ability to implement, maintain, and leverage our technology solutions provides us with a competitive advantage that allows us to grow our business in a cost-efficient manner and provide better patient care.
Our Service Value Point system is a proprietary information system that assists us in, among other things, monitoring clinical utilization and other cost factors, supporting our health care management techniques, internal benchmarking, clinical analysis, outcomes monitoring and claims generation, revenue cycle management, and revenue reporting at our home nursing agencies. We were issued a patent for our Service Value Point system during 2009 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This proprietary home nursing clinical resource and cost management system is a quantitative tool that assigns a target level of resource units to each patient based upon our staff's initial assessment of the patient's estimated skilled nursing and therapy needs. We designed this system to empower our direct care employees to make appropriate day-to-day clinical care decisions while also allowing us to monitor and manage the quality and delivery of care across our system, including the cost of providing that care, on both a patient-specific and agency-specific basis. In 2019, we updated our Service Value Point system for the new PDGM payment system adopted by CMS and other payors.
All of our home nursing and hospice locations utilize our point of care ("POC") system. Our POC system allows a visiting clinician to access records and other information from the patient’s home or at the POC, complete required documentation at the POC and submit it electronically into our patient record system. HomeCare HomeBase is our solution of choice for home health and hospice operations. Currently, all of our home health and hospice locations are using HomeCare HomeBase. All of our home and community-based locations are using Continulink. Our advance practice services utilize eMD’s Aprima solution and our long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facility services utilize WellSky’s HCS solution.
Each of these applications support their respective lines of business and locations with administrative, office, clinical, and operating information system needs, including assisting with the compliance of our operating systems with HIPAA requirements. Each application also assists our staff in gathering information to improve the quality of patient care, optimizing financial performance, promoting regulatory compliance, and enhancing staff efficiency. Each application (with the exception of WellSky’s HCS solution) is hosted by the vendor in a secure data center, with multiple redundancies for storage, power, bandwidth, and security. The WellSky’s HCS solution is hosted at a co-located data center that is managed by the Company.
We have built an enterprise data warehouse that aggregates data from our ERP solution, and various health record/billing systems in use. We use various third-party solutions and several LHC-developed applications to provide historical, current, and forward-looking operational performance analysis. Our dashboards and reports provide high-level and detailed, historical and current, views to measure performance against budget and deliver insights into factors that drive our execution against
our financial, operational, and compliance goals. These dashboards and reports are available in summary and detailed views to accommodate user needs from senior management down to the operators in the field.
We utilize a variety of third-party solutions for human resource management and use their services and products to manage our payroll processing, leave of absence (“LOA”) processes, flexible spending account (“FSA”) administration, time, and attendance. We also utilize third-party solutions for financial management, including budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting, including but not limited to general ledger, accounts payable, and fixed assets.
We are also deploying solutions across all of our home health, hospice, and home and community-based locations to comply with the requirements for electronic visit verification (“EVV”). In order to comply with current and future state and federal regulations for EVV, we utilize several different solutions. In states with an “open” model, we are able to choose our EVV vendor, and we use Continulink, or HomeCare HomeBase (in partnership with CellTrak) as our preferred EVV solution provider. In “closed” systems where states mandate the EVV vendor, we utilize the state-mandated EVV solution provider. In all cases, we have built interfaces between the EVV solution providers and our electronic health record and billing systems.
The following describes the payment models in effect during the year ended December 31, 2020. Such payment models have been subject to temporary adjustments made by CMS in response COVID-19 pandemic as described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The federal government’s Medicare program, governed by the Social Security Act of 1965 (the “Social Security Act”), reimburses health care providers for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries. These beneficiaries generally include persons age 65 and older and those who are chronically disabled. The program is primarily administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and CMS. Medicare payments accounted for 62.1%, 64.1%, and 71.7% of our net service revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Medicare reimburses us based upon the setting in which we provide our services or the Medicare category in which those services fall.
In 2011, sequestration was implemented in the Budget Control Act of 2011(BCA, P.L. 112-25) as a tool in federal budget control. The sequestration cut to Medicare payments began on April 1, 2013, and reduced Medicare payments for patients whose service dates ended on or after April 1, 2013 by 2%. In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES Act") on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act suspended the 2% sequestration payment adjustments on Medicare patient claims with periods that ended on May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The suspension is expected to occur throughout the first quarter of 2021. Absent any additional Congressional action, the 2% sequestration cuts are planned to continue through 2023.
The Medicare home nursing benefit is available to patients who need care following discharge from a hospital, as well as patients who suffer from chronic conditions that require skilled intermittent care. While the services received need not be rehabilitative or of a finite duration, patients who require full-time skilled nursing for an extended period of time generally do not qualify for Medicare home nursing benefits. As a condition of coverage under Medicare, beneficiaries must: (1) be homebound, meaning they are unable to leave their home without a considerable and taxing effort; (2) require intermittent skilled nursing, physical therapy, or speech therapy services that are covered by Medicare; and (3) receive treatment under a plan of care that is established and periodically reviewed by a physician. Qualifying patients also may receive reimbursement for occupational therapy, medical social services, and home health aide services if these additional services are part of a plan of care prescribed by a physician.
Effective January 1, 2020, PDGM became the new payment model for services provided to Medicare patients with dates of service on or after the effective date, including certain Medicare Advantage patients. PDGM was implemented by CMS. Under PDGM, the initial certification of Medicare patient eligibility, plan of care, and comprehensive assessment is for a 60-day episode of care; however, unlike the former Medicare prospective payment system ("PPS"), where each 60-day episode of care could not be final billed until the episode was completed, PDGM provides for each 30-day period within the episode of care to be final billed upon completion.
As a result of PDGM, we complete our final billing after each 30-day period. For each 30-day period, the patient is classified into one of 432 home health resource groups prior to receiving services. Each 30-day period is placed into a subgroup falling under the following categories: (i) timing being early or late, (ii) admission source being community or institutional, (iii) one of 12 clinical groupings based on the patient's principal diagnosis, (iv) functional impairment level of low, medium, or high, and (v) a co-morbidity adjustment of none, low, or high based on the patient's secondary diagnoses.
Each 30-day period payment from Medicare reflects base payment adjustments for case-mix and geographic wage differences. All Medicare patient claims with end of period dates from January 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020 reflected a 2% sequestration reduction. The 2% sequestration reduction adjustment was suspended for patient claims with periods that ended May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. In addition, payments may reflect one of three retroactive adjustments to the total reimbursement: (a) an outlier payment if the patient’s care was unusually costly; (b) a low utilization adjustment whereby the number of visits is dependent on the clinical grouping; and/or (c) a partial payment if the patient transferred to another provider or from another provider before completing the episode. The retroactive adjustments outlined above are recognized in net service revenue when the event causing the adjustment occurs and during the period in which the services are provided to the patient. We review these adjustments to ensure that it is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainty associated with the retroactive adjustments is subsequently resolved. Net service revenue and related patient accounts receivable are recorded at amounts estimated to be realized from Medicare for services rendered.
Under PDGM, the initial certification of Medicare patient eligibility, plan of care, and comprehensive assessment remains valid for 60-day episodes of care but payments for Medicare home health services are made based upon 30-day payment periods. The national, standardized 30-day Medicare payment amount was $1,864.03, resulting in a 1.3% increase in payments over fiscal year 2019. The rule implemented the 1.5% Medicare home health payment update mandated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, offset by a 0.2% decrease due to the rural add-on. The final rule also adjusted PDGM case-mix weights, which implemented the removal of therapy thresholds for payments. For Medicare payments associated with low utilization payment adjustments ("LUPAs") under PDGM, the threshold varies for a 30-day period depending on the PDGM payment group. The 30-day payment amounts are for 30-day periods of care beginning on and after January 1, 2020. CMS also reduced a request for anticipated payment ("RAP") payments to 20% for existing home health providers. CMS finalized its proposal to eliminate RAP payments for calendar year 2021, and will require home health providers to submit "no pay" RAPs during that year. Beginning January 1, 2021, home health providers will be required to submit a Notice of Admission ("NOA") within five calendar days of the first 30-day period and within five calendar days of the day 31 for the second, subsequent 30-day period. CMS also finalized a policy allowing therapy assistants to provide maintenance therapy services in the home and modified certain requirements relating to the home health plan of care.
On October 29, 2020, CMS released the final rule for fiscal year 2021 to update base payment rates by a net market basket index of 1.9%, which is an annual inflation update of 2.3%, reduced by a 0.3% productivity adjustment and 0.1% reduction in the rural add-on percentages mandated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The base 30-day payment rate is increased from $1,864.03 to $1,901.12. The following lists additional fiscal year 2021 reimbursement items:
•a reduction of payment (including LUPA) rates by 2% for home health agencies that do not submit required quality data
•using wage indexes for the Office of Management and Budget's core-based statistical areas with a cap of 5% of wage index decreases and no cap on wage index increases
•continued phase-out of the rural add-on
•continued 2020 levels of PDGM case mix weights and LUPA thresholds
•finalization of plan of care requirements regarding telehealth visits.
We verify a patient’s eligibility for home health benefits at the time of admission.
Home health payment rates are updated annually by the home health market basket percentage as adjusted by Congress. CMS establishes the home health market basket index, which measures inflation in the prices of an appropriate mix of goods and services included in home health services.
In order for a Medicare beneficiary to qualify for the Medicare hospice benefit, two physicians must certify that, in their clinical judgment, the beneficiary has less than six months to live, assuming the beneficiary’s disease runs its normal course. In addition, the Medicare beneficiary must affirmatively elect hospice care and waive any rights to other Medicare curative benefits related to his or her terminal illness. At the end of each benefit period (described below), a physician must recertify that the Medicare beneficiary’s life expectancy is six months or less in order for the beneficiary to continue to qualify for and to receive the Medicare hospice benefit. The first two benefit periods are 90 days and subsequent benefit periods are 60 days. A Medicare beneficiary may revoke his or her election at any time and resume receiving traditional Medicare benefits. There is no limit on how long a Medicare beneficiary can receive hospice benefits and services, provided that the beneficiary continues to meet Medicare hospice eligibility criteria.
Medicare reimburses for hospice care using one of four predetermined daily rates based upon the level of care we furnish to a beneficiary. These rates are subject to annual adjustments based on inflation and geographic wage considerations. The base Medicare rate for services that we provide to a beneficiary depends upon which of the following four levels of care we provide to that beneficiary:
•Routine Care. Care that is not classified under any of the other levels of care, such as the work of nurses, social workers or home health aides.
•General Inpatient Care. Pain control or acute or chronic symptom management that cannot be managed in a setting other than an inpatient Medicare certified facility, such as a hospital, skilled nursing facility or hospice inpatient facility.
•Continuous Home Care. Care for patients experiencing a medical crisis that requires nursing services to achieve palliation and symptom control, if the agency provides a minimum of eight hours of care within a 24-hour period.
•Respite Care. Short-term, inpatient care to give temporary relief to the caregiver who regularly provides care to the patient.
Medicare limits the reimbursement we may receive for inpatient care services (both respite and general care) for hospice patients. Under the “80-20 rule,” if the number of inpatient care days of hospice care furnished by us to Medicare hospice beneficiaries under a unique provider number exceeds 20% of the total days of hospice care furnished by us to all Medicare hospice beneficiaries for both inpatient and in-home care, Medicare payments to us for inpatient care days exceeding the inpatient cap will be reduced to the routine home care rate, with excess amounts due back to Medicare. This determination is made annually based on the twelve-month period beginning on October 1 each year. Our Medicare hospice reimbursement is also subject to a cap amount calculated at the end of the hospice cap period, based on the twelve-month period beginning on October 1 each year, which determines the maximum allowable payments per provider.
On August 6, 2019, CMS published the Final Rule setting hospice payment rates and policies for fiscal year 2020. Effective October 1, 2020, CMS finalized its proposal to rebase reimbursement rates for general inpatient care, respite care, and continuous home care which resulted in increased reimbursement for these service lines. To maintain budget neutrality, CMS reduced reimbursement for routine home care by -2.72%. The hospice payment update percentage for fiscal year 2020 is equal to 2.6% for hospices that submit the required quality data and 0.6% (fiscal year 2020 hospice payment update of 2.6% minus 2 percentage points) for hospices that do not submit the required data. The hospice cap amount for the fiscal year 2020 cap year was $29,964.78, which was equal to the fiscal year 2019 cap amount ($29,205.44) updated by the fiscal year 2020 hospice payment update percentage of 2.6%. CMS finalized the removal of the 1-year wage index lag and will use the current year’s wage index to geographically wage adjust hospice payments. CMS also finalized its proposal to call the hospice assessment tool the Hospice Outcomes & Patient Evaluation instead of Hospice Evaluation Assessment Reporting Tool (HEART). CMS also made some minor changes to the measures used in the hospice quality reporting program. CMS delayed implementation of a new hospice election statement policy for one year until fiscal year 2021.
On July 31, 2020, CMS released the final rule for fiscal year 2021 to update payment rates and the wage index. The hospice payment update is a 2.4% increase to the payment rates. The final rule will apply a 5% cap on any decrease in a geographic area’s wage index value from fiscal year 2020. No such cap will be applied in fiscal year 2022. In addition, the final rule increases the aggregate cap value of $30,683.93 for fiscal year 2021, compared to $29,964.78 for fiscal year 2020.
Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals
All Medicare payments to our LTACHs are made in accordance with a PPS specifically applicable to LTACHs, referred to as “LTACH-PPS.” The LTACH-PPS was established by CMS final regulations published in 2002, that require each patient discharged from an LTACH to be assigned a distinct long-term care diagnosis-related group (“MS-LTC-DRG”), which take into account (among other things) the severity of a patient's condition. Our LTACHs are paid a predetermined fixed amount based upon the assigned MS-LTC-DRG (adjusted for area wage differences), which includes adjustments for short stay and high cost outlier patients (described in further detail below). The payment amount for each MS-LTC-DRG classification is intended to reflect the average cost of treating a Medicare patient assigned to that MS-LTC-DRG in an LTACH.
Adjustments to MS-LTC-DRG payments might include:
•Short Stay Outlier Policy. CMS has established a modified payment methodology for Medicare patients with a length-of-stay less than or equal to five-sixths of the geometric average length-of-stay for that particular MS-LTC-DRG, referred to as a short stay outlier, or “SSO.” When LTACH-PPS was established, SSO cases were paid based on the lesser of (1) 120% of the average cost of the case; (2) 120% of the LTC-DRG specific per diem amount multiplied by the patient’s length-of-stay; or (3) the full LTC-DRG payment. CMS modified the payment methodology for discharges occurring on or after July 1, 2006, which changed the limitation in clause (1) above to reduce payment for SSO cases to 100% (rather than 120%) of the average cost of the case, and also added a fourth
limitation, potentially further limiting payment for SSO cases at a per diem rate derived from blending 120% of the MS-LTC-DRG specific per diem amount with a per diem rate based on the general acute care hospital inpatient prospective payment system, or “IPPS”. Under this methodology, as a patient’s length-of-stay increases, the percentage of the per diem amount based upon the IPPS component will decrease and the percentage based on the MS-LTC-DRG component will increase.
•High Cost Outliers. Some cases are extraordinarily costly, producing losses that may be too large for healthcare providers to offset. Cases with unusually high costs, referred to as “high cost outliers,” receive a payment adjustment to reflect the additional resources utilized. CMS provides an additional payment if the estimated costs for the patient exceed the adjusted MS-LTC-DRG payment plus a fixed-loss amount that is established in the annual payment rate update.
•Interrupted Stays. An interrupted stay occurs when an LTACH patient is admitted upon discharge to a general acute care hospital, inpatient rehab facility, skilled nursing facility or a swing-bed hospital and returns to the same LTACH within a specified period of time. If the length-of-stay at the receiving provider is equal to or less than the applicable fixed period of time, it is considered to be an interrupted stay case and is treated as a single discharge for the purposes of payment to the LTACH.
Freestanding, HwH and Satellite LTACHs
LTACHs may be organized and operated as freestanding facilities or as a hospital within a hospital, or “HwH”. A HwH is an LTACH that is located on the "campus" of another hospital, meaning the physical area immediately adjacent to a hospital’s main buildings, other areas and structures that are not strictly contiguous to a hospital’s main buildings but are located within 250 yards of its main buildings, and any other area determined, on an individual case basis by the applicable CMS regional office, to be part of a hospital's campus. An LTACH that uses the same Medicare provider number of an affiliated “primary site” LTACH is known as a “satellite”. Under Medicare policy, a satellite LTACH must be located within 35 miles of its primary site LTACH and be administered by such primary site LTACH. As of December 31, 2020, we had a total of 12 LTACH facilities, with 377 licensed beds. Ten of our LTACH facilities were classified as HwHs and two were classified as freestanding. Of the 12 facilities, eight were located in Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”) or urban areas and four were located in non-MSA or rural areas. One of our HwH facilities was a satellite location of a parent hospital located in an MSA. Both of our freestanding locations are in MSAs, with one being located adjacent to a tertiary care facility.
An LTACH must have an average inpatient length-of-stay for Medicare patients (including both Medicare covered and non-covered days) of greater than 25 days during each annual cost reporting period. LTACHs that fail to exceed an average length-of-stay of 25 days during any cost reporting period may be paid under the general acute care hospital IPPS.
Fiscal Year Rates
On August 16, 2019, CMS published the Final Rule for LTACH reimbursement for fiscal year 2020. CMS established the LTACH PPS standard Federal payment rate of $42,677.64. This was the result of a 2.5% annual update to the standard federal rate, an incremental change in the one-time budget neutrality adjustment factor of 0.999858 for eliminating the 25-percent threshold policy in fiscal year 2020, and the area wage budget neutrality factor of 1.0020203. CMS estimates that overall LTACH PPS payments in fiscal year 2020 will increase by approximately 1.0%.
On September 2, 2020, CMS issued a final rule for the fiscal year 2021 LTACH-PPS. CMS expects LTACH-PPS payments to decrease by 1.1%, which reflects continued statutory implementation of the revised LTACH-PPS payment system. LTACH-PPS payments for fiscal year 2021 for discharges paid using the standard LTACH-PPS payment rate are expected to increase by 2.2% primarily due to the annual standard Federal rate update of 2.3%.
LTACH-PPS payments for cases that will complete the statutory transition to the lower payment rates under the dual rate system are expected to decrease by 24%. This accounts for the LTACH site neutral payment rate cases that will no longer be paid a blended payment rate for LTACH discharges occurring in cost reporting periods beginning in fiscal year 2020.
In response to COVID-19, the CARES Act suspended the application of site-neutral payments for LTACH admissions that were admitted during the Public Health Emergency ("PHE"). The PHE is expected to continue throughout 2021.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state funded health insurance program for certain low-income individuals administered by the states. Medicaid reimburses health care providers using a number of different systems, including cost-based, prospective payment and negotiated rate systems. Rates are also subject to adjustment based on statutory and regulatory changes, administrative rulings, government funding limitations and interpretations of policy by individual state agencies.
Payments from non-governmental payor sources are based on episodic-based rates or per visit based rates depending upon the terms and conditions of the payor. This reimbursement category includes payors such as insurance companies, workers’ compensation programs, health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations, other managed care companies and employers, as well as payments received directly from patients.
Patients are generally not responsible for any difference between customary charges for our services and amounts paid by Medicare and Medicaid programs and the non-governmental payors, but are responsible for services not covered by these programs or plans, as well as co-payments for deductibles and co-insurance obligations of their coverage. Patient out-of-pocket costs for the payment of deductibles and co-insurance have increased in recent years. Collection of amounts due from individuals is typically more difficult than collection of amounts due from government or business payors. Because the majority of our billed services are paid in full by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance, co-payments from patients do not represent a material portion of our billed revenue and corresponding accounts receivable. To further reduce their health care costs, most commercial payors such as insurance companies, health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and other managed care companies have negotiated discounted fee structures or fixed amounts for services performed, rather than paying health care providers the amounts normally billed.
In response to the challenges associated with collecting from commercial payors, we began negotiating higher reimbursement rates with a majority of our commercial payors. As of December 31, 2020, our managed care contracts included over 393 different payors between all of our divisions. If we are unable to continue negotiating higher reimbursement rates with commercial payors, if commercial payor continues to outpace traditional governmental payor growth, or if commercial payors reduce health care costs through reduction in home health reimbursement, it could have a material adverse impact on our financial results.
Human Capital Resources
Our culture and values, along with approximately 30,000 employees in 35 states and the District of Columbia, are our most valuable assets. In pursuit of our Company’s purpose - It’s All About Helping People - we strive to provide exceptional care and unparalleled service to patients and families who have placed their trust in us. We are led in this pursuit by our operating philosophy, rooted in the principles of service excellence, and our actions are guided by our Six Pillars of Excellence:
People: Ours is a business of people helping people.
Service: We are here to serve patients, families and communities.
Quality: In all we do, our focus is quality above all else.
Efficiency: We operate with discipline and efficiency to remain strong.
Growth: It is our obligation to care for as many as we can.
Ethics: We conduct ourselves with the highest standards of ethics, integrity and professionalism.
In order to ensure we live our values and our culture stays unique and strong, our Board of Directors and executive team have committed substantial efforts to focus on our human capital resources. These are some of the key aspects of our human capital strategy:
Employee Recruitment & Retention
We work diligently to attract the best talent from a diverse range of sources in order to meet the current and future demands of our businesses. We have established relationships with over 350 hospitals and hospital systems, world-class universities, trade schools, professional associations, and industry groups to proactively attract talent.
We provide a strong employee value proposition that leverages our unique culture, collaborative working environment, shared sense of purpose, and desire to do the right thing to attract talent to our Company.
As of December 31, 2020, we employed approximately 30,000 employees, which includes 13,990 in our home health operations, 2,240 in our hospice operations, 8,240 in our home and community-based services operations, and 1,000 in our LTACHs.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We aspire to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, where employees are empowered to bring their authentic selves to work every day. As part of our investment in our people, we make diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority. As more than 87% of our workforce are women, and 18% of our workforce is black and 5% is Hispanic, the success of our Company has been and will continue to be highly dependent upon our ability to maintain a culture where we value, respect, and provide fair treatment and equal opportunities for all employees. By recognizing and celebrating our differences, we cultivate an environment that’s the right fit for every person inside of it.
To foster those goals, effective January 1, 2021, we established the role of Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for the Company, who serves as the chair for our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a committee established in April 2020 to formulate and implement actionable diversity and inclusion initiatives for the Company, as we continue to seek to add diverse talent in order to enhance our capabilities to better serve our patients.
Compensation Programs and Employee Benefits
The main objective of our compensation and benefits programs is to provide a compensation and benefits package that will attract, retain, motivate, and reward employees who succeed in operating in a highly competitive and challenging environment. We seek to do this by linking annual changes in compensation to our overall performance, as well as each individual’s contribution to the results achieved. The emphasis on our overall performance is intended to align the employee’s interests with the provision of quality patient care and our success. We also seek fairness in total compensation that is competitive and consistent with employee positions, skill levels, knowledge, and geographic locations with reference to external comparisons, internal comparisons, and the relationship between management and non-management remuneration.
We are committed to providing comprehensive benefit options and it is our intention to offer benefits that will allow our employees and their families to live healthier and more secure lives. Some examples of our wide-ranging benefits offered are: medical insurance, participation in our 401 (k) plan, prescription drug benefits, dental insurance, vision insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, accident insurance, critical illness insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, and identity theft insurance.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented a number of programs to support our employees, including a pandemic grant program that supports employees experiencing financial hardships, retirement plan amendments, special cash-in opportunities for accumulated paid time off, expanded offerings in our employee assistance program, a wage supplement program designed to restore lost wages for front line patient care employees that qualified, and a paid time off replenishment program designed to restore certain hours of paid time off for front line patient care employees that qualified and for any employees who previously donated their paid time off hours to these front line patient care employees.
Training and Education
All new employees and new contractors, and all existing employees and contractors on an annual basis, must complete a one-hour program on our corporate compliance and ethics program. We also require annual distribution of the Code of Conduct and Ethics, and require each employee, including contractors, to acknowledge their receipt, review, and attestation to abide by the terms of the Code.
To empower employees to unleash their potential, we provide a range of development programs and opportunities, skills, and resources that our employees need and desire to be successful. For example, our iTrain platform provides additional specialized training in areas such as eligibility for home health and hospice, HIPAA, privacy and security, clinical and quality, coding, billing and reimbursement, and sales and marketing through webcasts, online courses and instructor-led sessions. Additionally, our Excellence By Design program provides a robust and formal curriculum for employees to obtain a deeper understanding of all facets of the Company, including accounting and finance, employee recruitment and retention, regulatory and licensure compliance, and supervisory management training, to support the development of the next generation of our management and leaders. Participants in our training programs are able to develop more advanced skills leading to higher contribution and satisfaction within their roles, while helping us to identify top performers, improve employee performance and retention, increase our organizational learning, and support the promotion of our current employees within our Company. During calendar year 2020, a total of 36,104 employees received education and training through company-provided programs, with an average of 19 courses being completed by each participant over an average of 17.83 training hours.
We also maintain a full suite of compliance policies and procedures. We perform a routine review and revision of our policies and procedures to stay abreast of both internal and external developments. All employees receive updated policies and procedures for review, specifically those that are directly related to job function. Our compliance policies include a Code of Conduct related to sales, marketing, education, and entertainment activities with referral sources. These policies establish rules and procedures governing our employees’ interactions with current and potential referral sources as well as those with the ability to influence or recommend a referral to one of our providers, helping ensure current regulations and laws are followed.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Our values, rooted in trust, integrity, and service, lay the foundation for our commitment to corporate social responsibility. Beyond providing quality healthcare to some of the most vulnerable members of our society, we believe that to be truly successful, it's crucial that we do our part to improve healthcare in the United States. For us, that means we are contributing
our time, talent, and resources to strengthen the communities where we do business, and we are engaging in ethical practices. We are committed to the principle that when our local communities thrive, we succeed.
Across the country, our agencies and employees contribute to worthy causes both locally and nationally, including United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs, Toys for Tots, and the American Heart Association, among countless other worthy social organizations. In 2020, we made approximately $1.5 million in charitable contributions. From a national perspective, we are proud to be among a handful of global companies and brands that sponsor the American Red Cross at its highest sponsorship level – the Annual Disaster Giving Program, including monetary donations, volunteering, sponsorships, regular shared communications, shared trainings, and co-branded initiatives.
Compliance and Business Ethics
We are firmly committed to the highest standards of ethics, integrity, professionalism, and compliance. Our compliance and ethics program includes auditing and monitoring, enhanced lines of communication between the Chief Compliance Officer and employees, consistency in the standards we set for ethics, and compliance and increased awareness of these standards through a robust training and education program. We also operate an independent third-party “Integrity Line” that encourages employees to report any concerns about unethical behavior, conflicts of interest, harassment, discrimination, abuse, or workplace safety violations.
Our code of conduct and ethics provides guidance to all of our employees, contractors and board members on carrying out daily activities within appropriate ethical and legal standards. The code of conduct and ethics was developed to help ensure we meet our ethical standards and comply with applicable laws, rules and regulations. It is a critical component of our overall compliance and ethics program and is an important resource — especially in situations where questions may arise about determining the right thing to do.
Safety, Health, & Wellness
The health and safety of our clinicians and other employees is our highest priority, and this is consistent with our operating philosophy. For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we promptly convened a cross-functional COVID-19 Task Force comprised of our leaders that continue to communicate with our clinicians and other employees concerning best practices and changes in our policies and procedures. We also implemented contingency planning policies, whereby many employees in our home offices located in Louisiana and Kentucky are continuing to work remotely in compliance with CDC recommendations. We continue to invest in technology and equipment that allows our remote work force to provide sustained and seamless functionality to our clinicians who continue to care for patients on service.
We have undertaken numerous tangible measures to promote the safety of our clinicians and other employees. For example, we have prepared and distributed to our clinicians across the country special kits of personal protective equipment and other supplies needed to properly treat our patients during the COVID-19 outbreak, adopted social distancing guidelines for our agencies and our home offices located in Louisiana and Kentucky and posted reminder signs and markers throughout our work spaces, adopted additional cleaning procedures at all locations, installed plexiglass shields at work spaces that require a physical protective barrier, and instituted temperature check points in our agencies and home office campuses. These and other measures have altered numerous clinical, operational and business processes and significantly increased our supplies and services costs. In addition to offering health insurance benefits options to all full-time employees, we also offer numerous other health and wellness benefit options including dental insurance, optical insurance, company-paid time off, company-paid holidays, tuition reimbursement, an employee hardship financial-assistance program, employee discount programs for health and wellness service memberships, company-paid short term disability insurance, and preferred rates on life, disability, and other insurance programs.
The health care industry is highly regulated and we are required to comply with federal, state and local laws which significantly affect our business. These laws and regulations are extremely complex and, in many instances, the industry does not have the benefit of significant regulatory or judicial interpretation. Regulations and policies frequently change, and we monitor these changes through trade and governmental publications and associations. The significant areas of federal and state regulation that could affect our ability to conduct our business include the following:
•Medicare and Medicaid participation and reimbursement regulations;
•the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and similar state laws;
•the federal Stark Law and similar state laws;
•false claims laws and regulations;
•laws and regulations imposing civil monetary penalties;
•environmental health and safety laws;
•licensing laws and regulations; and
•laws and regulations governing certificates of need and permits of approval.
If we fail to comply with these applicable laws and regulations, we could suffer civil or criminal penalties, including the loss of our licenses to operate and our ability to participate in federal and state health care programs, which would materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. Although we believe we are in material compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, these are complex matters and a review of our practices by a court or law enforcement or regulatory authority could result in an adverse determination that could harm our business. Furthermore, the laws applicable to us are subject to change, interpretation, and amendment; which could adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.
To participate in the Medicare program and receive Medicare payments, our agencies and facilities must comply with regulations promulgated by CMS. Among other things, these requirements, known as “conditions of participation,” relate to the type of facility, its personnel, and its standards of medical care. While we intend to continue to participate in the Medicare reimbursement programs, we cannot guarantee that our agencies, facilities, and programs will continue to qualify for Medicare participation.
Federal Anti-Kickback Statute
Certain provisions of the Social Security Act, commonly referred to as the Anti-Kickback Statute, prohibit the payment or receipt of anything of value in return for the referral of patients or arranging for the referral of patients, or in return for the recommendation, arrangement, purchase, lease, or order of items or services that are covered by a federal health care program such as Medicare and Medicaid. Violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute is a felony and sanctions include imprisonment of up to five years, criminal fines of up to $25,000, civil monetary penalties of up to $50,000 per act plus three times the amount claimed or three times the remuneration offered and exclusion from federal health care programs (including the Medicare and Medicaid programs). Many states have adopted similar prohibitions against payments intended to induce referrals of Medicaid and other third-party payor patients.
The OIG has published numerous “safe harbors” that exempt some practices from enforcement action under the Anti-Kickback Statute. These safe harbors exempt specified activities, including bona-fide employment relationships, contracts for the rental of space or equipment, personal service arrangements, and management contracts, so long as all of the requirements of the safe harbor are met. The OIG has recognized that the failure of an arrangement to satisfy all of the requirements of a particular safe harbor does not necessarily mean that the arrangement violates the Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, each arrangement is analyzed on a case-by-case basis, which is very fact specific. While we operate our business to comply with the prohibitions of the Anti-Kickback Statute, we cannot guarantee that all our arrangements will satisfy a safe harbor or will ultimately be viewed as being compliant with the Anti-Kickback Statute.
We endeavor to conduct our operations in compliance with federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws, including the Anti-Kickback Statute and similar state laws. However, our practices may be challenged in the future and the fraud and abuse laws may be interpreted in a way that finds us in violation of these laws. If we are found to be in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, we could be subject to civil and criminal penalties, and we could be excluded from participating in federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The occurrence of any of these events could significantly harm our business and financial condition and results of operations.
Congress has passed significant prohibitions against physician self-referrals of patients for certain designated health care services, commonly known as the Stark Law, which prohibits a physician from making referrals for particular health care services (called designated health services) to entities with which the physician, or an immediate family member of the physician, has a financial relationship.
The term “financial relationship” is defined very broadly to include most types of ownership or compensation relationships. The Stark Law defines a financial relationship to include: (1) a physician’s ownership or investment interest in an entity and (2) a compensation relationship between a physician and an entity. Under the Stark Law, financial relationships include both direct and indirect relationships. The Stark Law also prohibits the entity receiving the referral from seeking payment under the Medicare or Medicaid programs for services rendered pursuant to a prohibited referral. If an entity is paid for services rendered pursuant to a prohibited referral, it may incur civil penalties and could be excluded from participating in the Medicare or Medicaid programs. If an arrangement is covered by the Stark Law, the requirements of a Stark Law exception must be met for the physician to be able to make referrals to the entity for designated health services and for the entity to be able to bill for these services.
“Designated health services” under the Stark Law is defined to include home health services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, clinical laboratory services, physical therapy services, occupational therapy services, radiology services (including magnetic resonance imaging, computerized axial tomography scans and ultrasound services), radiation therapy services and supplies, and the provision of durable medical equipment and supplies, parenteral and enteral nutrients, equipment and supplies, prosthetics, orthotics and prosthetic devices and supplies, and outpatient prescription drugs.
Physicians refer patients to us for several Stark Law designated health services, including home health services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services and physical therapy services. We have compensation arrangements with some of these physicians or their professional practices in the form of medical director and consulting agreements. We also have operations owned by joint ventures in which physicians have an investment interest. In addition, other physicians who refer patients to our agencies and facilities may own shares of our stock. As a result of these relationships, we could be deemed to have a financial relationship with physicians who refer patients to our facilities and agencies for designated health services. If so, the Stark Law would prohibit the physicians from making those referrals and would prohibit us from billing for the services unless a Stark Law exception applies.
The Stark Law contains exceptions for certain physician ownership or investment interests and physician compensation arrangements. If an investment relationship or compensation agreement between a physician, or a physician’s immediate family member, and the subject entity satisfies all requirements for a Stark Law exception, the Stark Law will not prohibit the physician from referring patients to the entity for designated health services. The exceptions for a physician investment relationship include ownership in an entire hospital and ownership in rural providers. The exceptions for compensation arrangements cover employment relationships, personal services contracts and space and equipment leases, among others. We believe our physician investment relationships and compensation arrangements with referring physicians meet the requirements as exceptions under the Stark Law and that our operations comply with the Stark Law.
The Stark Law also includes an exception for a physician’s ownership or investment interest in certain entities through the ownership of stock that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ. If the ownership meets certain other requirements, the Stark Law will not apply to prohibit the physician from referring to the entity for designated health services. For example, this Stark Law exception requires that the entity issuing the stock have at least $75.0 million in stockholders’ equity at the end of its most recent fiscal year or on average during the previous three fiscal years. As of December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, we have in excess of $75.0 million in stockholders’ equity.
If an entity violates the Stark Law, it could be subject to civil penalties of up to $15,000 per prohibited claim and up to $100,000 for knowingly entering into certain prohibited referral schemes. The entity also may be excluded from participating in federal health care programs (including Medicare and Medicaid). There are no criminal penalties for violations of Stark Law. If the Stark Law was found to apply to our relationships with referring physicians and those relationships did not meet the requirement of an exception under the Stark Law, we would be required to restructure these relationships or refuse to accept referrals for designated health services from these physicians. If we were found to have submitted claims to Medicare or Medicaid for services provided pursuant to a referral prohibited by the Stark Law, we would be required to repay any amounts we received from Medicare for those services and could be subject to civil monetary penalties. Further, we could be excluded from participating in Medicare and Medicaid. If we were required to repay any amounts to Medicare, subjected to fines, or excluded from the Medicare and Medicaid Programs, our business and financial condition would be harmed significantly.
Many states have physician relationship and referral statutes that are similar to the Stark Law. Some of these laws generally apply without regard to whether the payor is a governmental body (such as Medicare) or a commercial party (such as an insurance company). While we believe that our operations are structured to comply with applicable state laws with respect to physician relationships and referrals, any finding that we are not in compliance with these state laws could require us to change our operations or could subject us to penalties. This, in turn, could have a significantly negative impact on our operations.
The submission of claims to a federal or state health care program for items and services that are “not provided as claimed” may lead to the imposition of civil monetary penalties, criminal fines and imprisonment and/or exclusion from participation in state and federally funded health care programs, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, under false claims statutes such as the federal False Claims Act. Under the federal False Claims Act, actions against a provider can be initiated by the federal government or by a private party on behalf of the federal government. These private parties are often referred to as qui tam relators, and relators are entitled to share in any amounts recovered by the government. Both direct enforcement activity by the government and qui tam actions have increased significantly in recent years, increasing the risk that a health care company like us will have to defend a false claims action, pay fines or be excluded from the Medicare and Medicaid programs as a result of an investigation. Many states have enacted similar laws providing for the imposition of civil and criminal penalties for the filing of fraudulent claims. While we operate our business to avoid exposure under the
federal False Claims Act and similar state laws, because of the complexity of the government regulations applicable to our industry, we cannot guarantee that we will not be the subject of an action under the federal False Claims Act or similar state law.
Anti-fraud Provisions of the HIPAA
In an effort to combat health care fraud, Congress included several anti-fraud measures in HIPAA. Among other things, HIPAA broadened the scope of certain fraud and abuse laws, extended criminal penalties for Medicare and Medicaid fraud to other federal health care programs and expanded the authority of the OIG to exclude persons and entities from participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. HIPAA also extended the Medicare and Medicaid civil monetary penalty provisions to other federal health care programs, increased the amounts of civil monetary penalties and established a criminal health care fraud statute.
Federal health care offenses under HIPAA include health care fraud and making false statements relating to health care matters. Under HIPAA, among other things, any person or entity that knowingly and willfully defrauds or attempts to defraud a health care benefit program is subject to a fine, imprisonment or both. Also under HIPAA, any person or entity that knowingly and willfully falsifies or conceals or covers up a material fact or makes any materially false or fraudulent statements in connection with the delivery of or payment of health care services by a health care benefit plan is subject to a fine, imprisonment or both. HIPAA applies not only to governmental plans but also to private payors.
Administrative Simplification Provisions of HIPAA
HHS’s final regulations governing electronic transactions involving health information are part of the administrative simplification provisions of HIPAA, commonly referred to as the Transaction Standards rule. The rule establishes standards for eight of the most common health care transactions by reference to technical standards promulgated by recognized standards publishing organizations. Under the rule, any party transmitting or receiving health transactions electronically must send and receive data in a single format, rather than the large number of different data formats currently used. This rule applies to us in connection with submitting and processing health claims, and also applies to many of our payors and to our relationships with those payors. We believe that our operations materially comply with the Transaction Standards rule.
These regulatory requirements impose significant administrative and financial obligations on companies like us that use or disclose electronic health information. We have modified our existing HIPAA privacy and security policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA regulations.
Civil Monetary Penalties
The Secretary of HHS may impose civil monetary penalties on any person or entity that presents, or causes to be presented, certain ineligible claims for medical items or services. The severity of penalties varies depending on the offense, from $2,000 to $50,000 per violation, plus treble damages for the amount at issue and may include exclusion from federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
HHS can also impose penalties on a person or entity who offers inducements to beneficiaries for program services, who violates rules regarding the assignment of payments, or who knowingly gives false or misleading information that could reasonably influence the discharge of patients from a hospital. Persons who have been excluded from a federal health care program and who retain ownership in a participating entity, as well as persons who contract with excluded persons may be penalized.
HHS can also impose penalties for false or fraudulent claims and those that include services not provided as claimed. In addition, HHS may impose penalties on claims:
•for physician services that the person or entity knew or should have known were rendered by a person who was unlicensed, or by a person who misrepresented either their qualifications in obtaining their license or their certification in a medical specialty;
•for services furnished by a person who was, at the time the claim was made, excluded from the program to which the claim was made; or
•that show a pattern of medically unnecessary items or services.
Penalties also are applicable in certain other cases, including violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, payments to limit certain patient services and improper execution of statements of medical necessity.
Governmental Review, Audits, and Investigations
DHHS, CMS, DOJ, and other federal and state agencies continue to impose intensive enforcement policies and conduct random and directed audits, reviews, and investigations designed to insure compliance with applicable healthcare program
participation and payment laws and regulations. As a result, we are routinely the subject of such audits, reviews, and investigations.
In addition, CMS engages third party contractors to conduct Additional Documentation Requests ("ADR") and other third party firms, including Unified Program Integrity Contractors ("UPICs"), Zone Program Integrity Contractors (“ZPICs”) and Recovery Audit Contractors (“RACs”), to conduct extensive reviews of claims data and state and Federal Government health care program laws and regulations applicable to healthcare providers. These audits evaluate the appropriateness of billings submitted for payment. Audit contractors identify overpayments resulting from incorrect payment amounts, non-covered services, medically unnecessary services, incorrectly coded services, and duplicate services, and are paid on a contingency basis. In addition to identifying overpayments, audit contractors can refer suspected violations of law to government enforcement authorities.
The Department of Justice, CMS, or other federal and state enforcement and regulatory agencies may conduct additional investigations related to the Company's businesses in the future. These audits and investigations have caused and could potentially continue to cause delays in collections, recoupments, retroactive adjustment to amounts previously paid from governmental payors. Currently, the Company has recorded $16.9 million in other assets, which are from government payors related to the disputed finding of pending ZPIC audits. Additionally, these audits and investigations may subject the Company to sanctions, damages, extrapolation of damage findings, additional recoupments, fines, and other penalties (some of which may not be covered by insurance), termination from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, bars on Medicare and Medicaid payments for new admissions, any of which may, either individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on the Company's business and financial condition and results of operations.
We cannot predict the ultimate outcome of any regulatory and other governmental audits and investigations. While such audits and investigations are the subject of administrative appeals, the appeals process, even if successful, may take several years to resolve. The Company’s costs to respond to and defend any such audits, reviews and investigations could be significant and are likely to increase in the current enforcement environment.
Environmental, Health, and Safety Laws
We are subject to federal, state, and local regulations governing the storage, use, and disposal of materials and waste products. Although we believe that our safety procedures for storing, handling, and disposing of these hazardous materials comply with the standards prescribed by law and regulation, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from those hazardous materials. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for any damages that result, and any liability could exceed the limits or fall outside the coverage of our insurance. We may not be able to maintain insurance on acceptable terms, or at all. We could incur significant costs and the diversion of our management’s attention to comply with current or future environmental laws and regulations. We are not aware of any violations related to compliance with environmental, health and safety laws through 2020.
Our agencies and facilities are subject to state and local licensing regulations ranging from the adequacy of medical care to compliance with building codes and environmental protection laws. To assure continued compliance with these various regulations, governmental and other authorities periodically inspect our agencies and facilities. Additionally, health care professionals at our agencies and facilities are required to be individually licensed or certified under applicable state law. We operate our business to ensure that our employees and agents possess all necessary licenses and certifications.
The institutional pharmacy operations within our facility-based services segment are also subject to regulation by the various states in which we conduct the pharmacy business, as well as by the federal government. The pharmacies are regulated under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, which are administered by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, administered by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, as a dispenser of controlled substances, our pharmacy operations must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration, file reports of inventories and transactions and provide adequate security measures. Failure to comply with such requirements could result in civil or criminal penalties. We are not aware of any violations of applicable laws relating to our institutional pharmacy operations through December 31, 2020.
Certificate of Need and Permit of Approval Laws
In addition to state licensing laws, some states require a provider to obtain a certificate of need or permit of approval prior to establishing, constructing, acquiring, or expanding certain health services, operations, or facilities. In these states, approvals are required for capital expenditures exceeding certain amounts that involve certain facilities or services, including home nursing agencies. The certificate of need or permit of approval issued by the state determines the service areas for the applicable agency or program. The following U.S. jurisdictions require certificates of need or permits of approval for home nursing agencies: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey,
New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In addition, the states of Louisiana and Mississippi continue to have state issued moratorium on the issuance of new licenses for home nursing agencies that we expect to remain in effect for 2021.
State certificate of need and permit of approval laws generally provide that, prior to the addition of new capacity, the construction of new facilities or the introduction of new services, a designated state health planning agency must determine that a need exists for those beds, facilities, or services. The process is intended to promote comprehensive health care planning, assist in providing high quality health care at the lowest possible cost and avoid unnecessary duplication by ensuring that only needed health care facilities and operations are built and opened.
The Joint Commission is a nationwide commission that establishes standards relating to the physical plant, administration, quality of patient care and operation of medical staffs of health care organizations. Currently, Joint Commission accreditation of home nursing and hospice agencies is voluntary. However, some managed care organizations use Joint Commission accreditation as a credentialing standard for regional and state contracts. As of December 31, 2020, the Joint Commission had accredited 499 of our 537 home health locations, 95 of our 120 hospice locations, and five of our 12 LTACH locations. Those not yet accredited are working towards achieving this accreditation. As we acquire companies, we apply for accreditation 12 to 18 months after completing the acquisition.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 27,959 employees, of which 14,341 were full-time. None of our employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our relationships with our employees and independent contractors to be good.
We are subject to claims and legal actions in the ordinary course of our business. To cover claims that may arise, we maintain commercial insurance for healthcare professional liability, general liability, automobile liability, employed lawyers liability, fiduciary liability, crime liability, information security and privacy liabilities, and workers’ compensation/employer’s liability in amounts that we believe are appropriate and sufficient for our operations. We maintain claims-made healthcare professional liability and occurrence based general liability insurance that provides primary limits of $1.0 million per incident/ occurrence and $3.0 million in annual aggregate amounts. We maintain workers’ compensation insurance that meets state statutory requirements and provides a primary employer liability limit of $1.0 million to cover claims that may arise in the states in which we operate, excluding Washington. Coverage for workers' compensation matters within the State of Washington is procured from the State's respective mandated program. Under our workers’ compensation insurance policies, the Company maintains a deductible of the first $1.0 million in workers' compensation liability. We maintain automobile liability insurance for all owned, hired and non-owned autos with a primary limit of $1.0 million. In addition, we currently maintain multiple layers of umbrella coverage in the aggregate amount of $40.0 million that provides excess coverage for healthcare professional liability, general liability, automobile liability and employer’s liability. We also maintain directors' and officers' liability insurance in the aggregate amount of $65.0 million. The cost and availability of insurance coverage has varied widely in recent years. While we believe that our insurance policies and coverage are adequate for a business enterprise of our type, we cannot guarantee that our insurance coverage is sufficient to cover all future claims or that it will continue to be available in adequate amounts or at a reasonable cost.
Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements, and amendments to those reports are available free of charge on our internet website at http://investor.lhcgroup.com as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC also maintains an internet site at www.sec.gov that contains such reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. These reports may also be obtained at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20549. Information on the operation of the Public Reference Room is available by calling the SEC at (800) SEC-0330. Information contained on our website is not part of or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
|Item 1A.||Risk Factors.|
The risks and uncertainties described below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K could cause our actual results to differ materially from past or expected results and are not the only ones we face. Other risks and uncertainties that we have not predicted or assessed may also adversely affect us.
If any of the negative effects associated with the following risks occur, our earnings, financial condition or business could be materially harmed and the trading price of our common stock could decline, resulting in the loss of all or part of stockholders’ investments.
Risk Factors Related to Reimbursement and Government Regulation
We derive a majority of our consolidated net service revenue from Medicare. If there are changes in Medicare rates or methods governing Medicare payments for our services, or if we are unable to control our costs, our results of operations and cash flows could decline materially.
For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we received 62.1% and 64.1%, respectively, of our net service revenue from Medicare. Reductions in Medicare rates or changes in the way Medicare pays for services could cause our net service revenue and net income to decline, perhaps materially. See Part I, Item 1. Reimbursement in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding reimbursements. Reductions in Medicare reimbursement could be caused by many factors, including:
•administrative or legislative changes to the base rates under the applicable prospective payment systems,
•the reduction or elimination of annual rate increases,
•the imposition or increase by Medicare of mechanisms shifting more responsibility for a portion of payment to beneficiaries, such as co-payments,
•adjustments to the relative components of the wage index used in determining reimbursement rates,
•changes to case mix or therapy thresholds,
•the reclassification of home health resource groups or long-term care diagnosis-related groups, or
•further limitations on referrals to long-term acute care hospitals from host hospitals.
We receive fixed payments from Medicare for our services based on the level of care provided to our patients. Consequently, our profitability largely depends upon our ability to manage the cost of providing these services. We cannot be assured that reimbursement payments under governmental payor programs, including Medicare, will remain at levels comparable to present levels or will be sufficient to cover the costs allocable to patients eligible for reimbursement pursuant to these programs. Any such changes could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. Medicare currently provides for an annual adjustment of the various payment rates, such as the base episode rate for our home nursing services, based upon the increase or decrease of the medical care expenditure, which may be less than actual inflation. This adjustment could be eliminated or reduced in any given year.
Additionally, while the CARES Act reversed prior reductions in Medicare reimbursement through the 2% sequestration mandated by earlier legislation, we cannot anticipate when that sequestration reimbursement reduction will return. Further, Medicare routinely reclassifies home health resource groups and long-term care diagnosis-related groups. As a result of those reclassifications, we could receive lower reimbursement rates depending on the case mix of the patients we service. If our cost of providing services increases by more than the annual Medicare price adjustment, or if these reclassifications result in lower reimbursement rates, our results of operations, net income and cash flows could be adversely impacted.
Additionally, CMS proposed changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System case-mix adjustment methodology through the use of a new PDGM for home health payments. This change was implemented on January 1, 2020, and also includes a change in the unit of payment from a 60-day payment period to a 30-day payment period and eliminates the use of therapy visits in the determination of payments. While the changes are intended to be implemented in a budget-neutral manner to the industry, the ultimate impact will vary by provider based on factors including patient mix and admission source. Additionally, in arriving at the calculation of a rate that is budget-neutral, CMS has made numerous assumptions about behavioral changes. The application of these assumptions could negatively impact our rates of reimbursement and have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
We are subject to extensive government regulation. Any changes in the laws and regulations governing our business, or the interpretation and enforcement of those laws or regulations, could require us to modify our operations and could negatively impact our operating results and cash flows.
As a provider of health care services, we are subject to extensive regulation on the federal, state, and local levels. The laws and regulations governing our operations, along with the terms of participation in various government programs, regulate how
we conduct business, the services we offer, and our interactions with patients and other providers. See Part I, Item 1. Government Regulations in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information concerning applicable laws and regulations. These laws and regulations, and their interpretations, are subject to frequent change. Changes in existing laws, regulations, their interpretations or the enactment of new laws or regulations could increase our costs of doing business, disrupt our business practices and cause our net income to decline. If we fail to comply with these applicable laws and regulations, we could suffer civil or criminal penalties, including the loss of our licenses to operate and our ability to participate in federal and state reimbursement programs. Furthermore, complying with these regulations requires significant compliance related costs.
We cannot predict the effect that health care reform and other changes in government programs may have on our business, financial condition, or results of operations.
The laws and regulations governing our operations are subject to constant change as a result of continued healthcare reform. Health care reform and other changes can result in significant costs to us, require us to change our methods of doing business and may be difficult to comply with. While we cannot predict the extent of future health care reform and changing healthcare laws or its impact on our business, financial condition, or results of operations, such reform and changes could materially and adversely affect us. We also anticipate that the Biden Administration will pursue healthcare reform that is significantly different than the healthcare reform pursued by the Trump Administration and that such reform may result in additional regulations and compliance costs. Any proposed federal health care reforms could have a meaningful impact on our business.
In addition, various health care reform proposals similar to recent federal reforms have also emerged at the state level, including in several states in which we operate. We cannot predict with certainty what health care initiatives, if any, will be implemented at the state level, or what the ultimate effect of state health care reform or any future legislation or regulation may have on us or on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
There are also continuing efforts to reform governmental health care programs that could result in major changes in the health care delivery and reimbursement system on a national and state level, including changes directly impacting the reimbursement systems for our home health and hospice care services. Though we cannot predict what, if any, reform proposals will be adopted, healthcare reform and legislation may have a material adverse effect on our business and our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows through decreasing payments made for our services.
Changes in our “Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings” could adversely affect our business.
CMS has instituted a star rating methodology for home health agencies to meet the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's ("PPACA") call for more transparent public information on provider quality. All Medicare-certified home health agencies would be eligible to receive a star rating (from 1 to 5 stars) based on a number of quality measures, such as timely initiation of care, drug education provided to patients, fall risk assessment, depression assessments, improvements in bed transferring, and bathing, among others. The “Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings” were first published in July 2015, and are updated quarterly thereafter based upon new data that is published with the ratings on the “Home Health Compare” section of the medicare.gov website. While we are pleased with the ratings received by our home health agencies and are striving to improve our results, failing to maintain satisfactory star rating scores could affect our rates of reimbursement and have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
We face reviews, audits and investigations under our contracts with federal and state government agencies and private payors, and these audits could have adverse findings that may negatively impact our business.
We are subject to various routine and non-routine governmental reviews, audits and investigations. CMS engages third party contractors to conduct additional development request ("ADR") and other third party firms, including zone program integrity contractors ("ZPIC") and recovery audit contractors ("RAC"), to conduct extensive reviews of claims data and non-medical and other records to identify potential improper payments under the Medicare program. In recent years, federal and state civil and criminal enforcement agencies have heightened and coordinated their oversight efforts related to the health care industry, including with respect to referral practices, cost reporting, billing practices, joint ventures and other financial relationships among health care providers. Although we have invested substantial time and effort in implementing policies and procedures to comply with laws and regulations, we could be subject to liabilities arising from violations. A violation of the laws governing our operations, or changes in the interpretation of those laws, could result in the imposition of fines, civil or criminal penalties, and the termination of our rights to participate in federal and state-sponsored programs or the suspension or revocation of our licenses to operate. Our costs to respond to and defend reviews, audits, and investigations may be significant and could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. Moreover, an adverse review, audit, or investigation could result in:
•required refunding or retroactive adjustment of amounts we have been paid pursuant to the federal or state programs or from private payors,
•state or federal agencies imposing fines, penalties, and other sanctions on us,
•loss of our right to participate in the Medicare program, state programs, or one or more private payor networks, or
•damage to our business and reputation in various markets.
These results could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
If any of our agencies or facilities fail to comply with the conditions of participation in the Medicare program, that agency or facility could be terminated from Medicare, which could adversely affect our net service revenue and net income.
Our agencies and facilities must comply with the extensive conditions of participation in the Medicare program. These conditions of participation vary depending on the type of agency or facility, but, in general, require our agencies and facilities to meet specified standards relating to personnel, patient rights, patient care, patient records, administrative reporting, and legal compliance. If an agency or facility fails to meet any of the Medicare conditions of participation, that agency or facility may receive a notice of deficiency from the applicable state surveyor. If that agency or facility then fails to institute a plan of correction to correct the deficiency within the time period provided by the state surveyor, that agency or facility could be terminated from the Medicare program. We respond in the ordinary course to deficiency notices issued by state surveyors and none of our facilities or agencies have ever been terminated from the Medicare program for failure to comply with the conditions of participation. Any termination of one or more of our agencies or facilities from the Medicare program for failure to satisfy the Medicare conditions of participation could materially and adversely affect our net service revenue and net income.
Our revenue may be negatively impacted by a failure to appropriately document services, resulting in delays in reimbursement.
Reimbursement to us is conditioned upon providing the correct administrative and billing codes and properly documenting the services themselves, including the level of service provided, and the necessity for the services. If incorrect or incomplete documentation is provided or inaccurate reimbursement codes are utilized, this could result in nonpayment for services rendered and could lead to allegations of billing fraud. This could subsequently lead to civil and criminal penalties, including exclusion from government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, third-party payors may disallow, in whole or in part, requests for reimbursement based on determinations that certain amounts are not covered, services provided were not medically necessary, or supporting documentation was not adequate.
The inability of our long-term acute care hospitals to maintain their certification as long-term acute care hospitals could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and cash flows.
Following the expiration of exemptions provided under the CARES Act, if our LTACHs fail to meet or maintain the standards for Medicare certification as LTACHs, such as for average minimum patient length-of-stay and restrictions on sources of referral (e.g. the 25 Percent rule), they will receive reimbursement under the prospective payment system applicable to general acute care hospitals rather than the system applicable to long-term acute care hospitals. Payments at rates applicable to general acute care hospitals would likely result in our LTACHs receiving less Medicare reimbursement than they currently receive for their patient services. If any of our LTACHs were subject to payment as general acute care hospitals, our net service revenue and net income would decline.
Our hospice operations are subject to two annual Medicare caps. If any of our hospice providers exceeds such caps, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.
Overall payments made by Medicare to each hospice provider number (generally corresponding to each of our hospice agencies) are subject to an inpatient cap amount and an overall payment cap amount, which are calculated and published by the Medicare fiscal intermediary on an annual basis covering the period from October 1 through September 30. If payments received under any of our hospice provider numbers exceeds either of these caps, we may be required to reimburse Medicare for payments received in excess of the caps, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
If the structures or operations of our joint ventures are found to violate the law, it could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and consolidated results of operations.
Several of our joint ventures are with hospitals and physicians, which are governed by the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and similar state laws. These anti-kickback statutes prohibit the payment or receipt of anything of value in return for referrals of patients or services covered by governmental health care programs, such as Medicare. The OIG has published numerous safe
harbors that exempt qualifying arrangements from enforcement under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. We have sought to satisfy as many safe harbor requirements as possible in structuring our joint ventures.
Despite our efforts to meet the safe harbor requirements where possible, our joint ventures may not satisfy all elements of the safe harbor requirements. If any of our joint ventures were found to be in violation of federal or state anti-kickback or physician referral laws, we could be required to restructure them or refuse to accept referrals from the physicians or hospitals with which we have entered into a joint venture. We also could be required to repay to Medicare amounts we have received pursuant to any prohibited referrals, and we could suffer civil or criminal penalties, including the loss of our licenses to operate and our ability to participate in federal and state health care programs. If any of our joint ventures were subject to any of these penalties, our business could be materially adversely affected. If the structure of any of our joint ventures were found to violate federal or state anti-kickback statutes or physician referral laws, we may be unable to implement our growth strategy, which could have an adverse impact on our future net income and consolidated results of operations.
The application of state certificate of need and permit of approval regulations and compliance with federal and state licensing requirements could substantially limit our ability to operate and grow our business.
Our ability to expand operations in a state will depend on our ability to obtain a state license to operate. States may have a limit on the number of licenses they issue. For example, Louisiana currently has a moratorium on the issuance of new home nursing agency licenses. We cannot predict whether the moratorium in Louisiana will be extended. In addition, we cannot predict whether any other states in which we operate, or may wish to operate in the future, may adopt a similar moratorium.
As of December 31, 2020, we operated in 16 states that require health care providers to obtain prior approval, known as a certificate of need or a permit of approval, for the purchase, construction, or expansion of health care facilities, to make certain capital expenditures, or to make changes in services or bed capacity. The failure to obtain any requested certificate of need, permit of approval or other license could impair our ability to operate or expand our business.
Quality reporting requirements may negatively impact Medicare reimbursement.
Many of our business are subject to reporting requirements that if we fail to comply with may negatively impact future Medicare reimbursement. In particular, the PPACA established quality reporting requirements for hospice programs. Failure to submit required quality data will result in a 2 percentage point reduction to the market basket percentage increase for that fiscal year. The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (the “IMPACT Act”) established requirements for home health agencies and other providers to submit standardized data. Failure to report data as required by the IMPACT ACT will subject providers to a 2% reduction in market basket prices then in effect. Similarly, CMS established a new “Pay-for-Reporting Performance Requirement” with which provider compliance with quality reporting program requirements can be measured. Home health agencies that do not submit quality measure data to CMS are subject to a 2% reduction in their annual home health payment update percentage. There can be no assurance that all of our agencies will continue to meet quality reporting requirements in the future which may result in one or more of our agencies seeing a reduction in its Medicare reimbursements. Regardless, these reporting requirements are costly and we, like other healthcare providers, will incur meaningful expenses in an effort to comply with these and future quality reporting requirements.
Risk Factors Related to Operations and our Growth Strategy
The COVID-19 pandemic has materially impacted our business, and will likely continue to impact our business in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted economic activity and conditions worldwide, including work forces, liquidity, capital markets, consumer behavior, supply chains, and macroeconomic conditions, which in turn has materially impacted our business. While we expect the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to impact our business in the near term, the extent and duration of the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and results of operations is unknown and will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and outside our control. These developments include the scope, duration and severity of the pandemic (including the possibility of further surges or variations of COVID-19), the timing and efficacy of the vaccination program in the states and locales in which we operate, further actions taken by governmental authorities, including future stimulus programs, in response to the pandemic and changing consumer and patient behavior. It is also possible that the pandemic and its aftermath will lead to a prolonged economic slowdown or recession in the U.S. economy. We may face interruption in the provision of our services, and increased costs of services, both of which could have a material and adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The majority of the Company’s revenues are derived from the provision of home health and hospice services. While demand for our home health services have not been materially impacted by COVID-19 to date, such demand could suffer depending on the duration and severity of the pandemic due to heightened anxiety among our patients regarding the risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of home health visits. Additionally, many of our patients are prescribed home health services after discharge from the hospital or after other surgeries and medical procedures. The pandemic has resulted and could continue to
result in restrictions on or the avoidance or delay of health care visits and procedures. These and other factors related to COVID-19 could eventually reduce demand for our home health services.
Our ability to provide services to our patients depends first and foremost on the health and safety of our skilled nurses, home health aides, and therapists. While we continue to take significant precautions to enable our health care providers to continue to safely provide our important services to our patients during the pandemic and while we have not experienced material service interruptions to date during the pandemic, we could experience interruptions in our ability to continue to provide these services in the future. For example, if there is a reduction in our available healthcare providers due to concerns around COVID-19 related risks or if substantial numbers of our healthcare providers were to contract COVID-19 or otherwise be required to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, our ability to provide services to our patients may be significantly interrupted or suspended.
In addition to a number of factors that could adversely impact demand for our services and our ability to provide services to our patients, we may experience increased cost of care and reduced reimbursements as a result of COVID-19. In particular, we have experienced higher costs due to the higher utilization and cost of personal protective equipment as well as increased purchasing of other medical supplies, cleaning, and sanitization materials. If our patients suffer from increased incidence of and complications from illnesses, including COVID-19, our costs of providing care for our patients would increase. We may also face reduced reimbursement for our services through Medicare and commercial health care plans in the event that such plans do not adjust patient and other qualifications to address changes related to COVID-19. In addition, if our healthcare providers are unable to obtain vaccines in a timely manner or are not willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, demand for our services may be reduced if there is a perception that other service providers would offer less risk than our health care providers.
In addition, a number of our employees are continuing to work from home. While we have continued to invest in technology and equipment that allows our remote work force to provide continued and seamless functionality to our clinicians who continue to care for patients on service, remote working may heighten cybersecurity, information security, and operational risks and affect the productivity of our employees.
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our operations will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the scope, severity, and duration of the pandemic, the actions taken to contain the pandemic or mitigate its impact, and the direct and indirect economic effects of the pandemic and containment measures. The COVID-19 pandemic also may have the effect of heightening the other risk factors disclosed herein.
We face competition, including from competitors with greater resources, which may make it difficult for us to compete effectively as a provider of post-acute health care services.
We compete with national, regional, and local home nursing and hospice companies, hospitals and other businesses that provide post-acute health care services, some of which are large, established companies that have significantly greater resources than we do. We expect our competitors to develop joint ventures with providers, referral sources, and payors, which could result in increased competition. The introduction by our competitors of new and enhanced service offerings, in combination with industry consolidation and the development of strategic relationships by our competitors, could cause a decline in our net service revenue and loss of market acceptance of our services. Future increases in competition from existing competitors or new entrants may limit our ability to maintain or increase our market share. Additionally, we compete with a number of non-profit organizations that can finance acquisitions and capital expenditures on a tax-exempt basis or receive charitable contributions that are unavailable to us. We may not be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors and competitive pressures may have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Managed care organizations and other third party payors continue to consolidate, which enhances their ability to influence the delivery of health care services. Consequently, the health care needs of patients in the United States are increasingly served by a smaller number of managed care organizations, and these organizations generally enter into service agreements with a limited number of providers. Our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows could be materially adversely affected if these organizations do not contract with us as a provider and/or engage our competitors as a preferred or exclusive providers. In addition, should private payors, including managed care payors, seek to negotiate additional discounted fee structures or the assumption by health care providers of all or a portion of the financial risk through prepaid capitation arrangements, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.
If we are unable to react competitively to new developments, our operating results may suffer. State certificates of need or permit of approval laws often limit the ability of competitors to enter into a given market, are not uniform throughout the United States and are frequently the subject of efforts to limit or repeal such laws. If states remove existing certificates of need
or permit of approvals, we could face increased competition in these states. There can be no assurances that states will not seek to eliminate or limit their existing certificates of need or permit of approval programs, which could lead to increased competition in these states. Further, we may not be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
Changes in the case mix of patients, as well as payor mix and payment methodologies, may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash flows.
The sources and amounts of our patient revenue are determined by a number of factors, including the mix of patients and the rates of reimbursement among payors. Changes in the case mix of the patients, payment methodologies, or payor mix among private pay, Medicare, and Medicaid may significantly affect our results of operations and cash flows.
Our failure to negotiate favorable managed care contracts, or adapt to and comply with innovative reimbursement models, or our loss of existing favorable managed care contracts, could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
One of our strategies is to diversify our payor sources by increasing the business we do with managed care companies, and we strive to secure favorable contracts with managed care payors. However, we may not be successful in these efforts and we may not successfully adapt to and comply with increasingly innovative reimbursement models being sought by payors. Additionally, there is a risk that any favorable managed care contracts that we can secure may be terminated on short notice, since managed care contracts typically permit the payor to terminate without cause, typically on 60 days' notice. Such provisions can provide payors with leverage to reduce volume or obtain favorable pricing. Our failure to negotiate, secure, and maintain favorable managed care contracts and our inability to adapt to and comply with innovative reimbursement models could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Shortages in qualified nurses and other health care professionals could increase our operating costs significantly or constrain our ability to grow.
We rely on our ability to attract and retain qualified nurses and other health care professionals. The availability of qualified nurses nationwide has declined in recent years and competition for these and other health care professionals has increased, especially under the healthcare and economic crises experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and, therefore, salary and benefit costs have risen accordingly. Our ability to attract and retain nurses and other health care professionals depends on several factors, including our ability to protect our staff during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing adequate personal protective equipment and provide desirable assignments and competitive benefits and salaries. We may not be able to attract and retain qualified nurses or other health care professionals in the future. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced increased costs to attract and retain qualified skilled nursing and paraprofessional personnel and faced challenges in staffing patient care due to reductions in available work force. If these increased costs of attracting and retaining these professionals and providing them with attractive benefit packages or we are unable to overcome the challenges with workforce availability, our net income could decline. Moreover, if we are unable to attract and retain qualified professionals, the quality of services offered to our patients may decline or our ability to grow may be constrained. In addition, if we expand our operations into geographic areas where health care providers historically have been unionized, or if any of our care center employees become unionized, being subject to a collective bargaining agreement may have a negative impact on our ability to timely and successfully recruit qualified personnel and may increase our operating costs.
Additionally, a number of states require that direct care workers, such as our nurses, receive state-mandated minimum wage and/or overtime pay. Opponents of such policies argue that the new protections will make in-home care more expensive for government programs that pay for such services, and that these new rules and regulations could result in a reduction in covered services. We will continue to evaluate the effect of these various new rules and regulations on our operations.
The loss of certain Board of Directors, executive management, or key employees could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance.
Our success depends upon the continued service of our Board of Directors and employment of our executive management team and key employees and our ability to retain and motivate these individuals. If we lose the services of one or more of our Board of Directors, executive officers, or key employees, we may not be able to successfully manage our business, achieve our business goals, or replace them with equally qualified personnel. The loss of any of our executive officers or key employees could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance. Furthermore, while our board has undertaken succession planning there is no guarantee that such succession planning will be successful and any management succession or transition involves inherent risk that could hinder our strategic planning, execution and future performance.
We may close additional underperforming agencies in the future.
We regularly review the performance of our various agencies. Our review considers the current financial performance, market penetration, forecasted market growth and current and future reimbursement payment forecasts. We will continue to monitor the performance of our agencies on an ongoing basis, and closures may from time to time occur in the future. If we take any further action to close agencies, we will incur additional costs and expenses, which may require us to record significant charges in future periods. While any such closures would be made in connection with our constant efforts to improve our profitability, associated charges would have a negative impact on our revenue and possibly our operating results during the short-term.
Future acquisitions may be unsuccessful and could expose us to unforeseen liabilities. Further, our acquisition and internal development activity may impose strains on our existing resources.
Our growth strategy involves the acquisition of agencies throughout the United States. These acquisitions involve significant risks and uncertainties, including difficulties integrating acquired personnel and other corporate cultures into our business, the potential loss of key employees or patients of acquired agencies, the delay in payments associated with change in ownership, control, and the internal process of the Medicare fiscal intermediary, and the exposure to unforeseen liabilities of acquired agencies. Additionally, operations that we acquire must be integrated into our various information systems in an efficient and effective manner. If we are unable to integrate and transition any acquired business into our information systems, we could incur unanticipated expenses, suffer disruptions in service, experience regulatory issues, lose revenue from the operation of such business and fail to realize the anticipated benefits of such acquisitions.
Further, the financial benefits we expect to realize from many of our acquisitions are largely dependent upon our ability to improve clinical performance, overcome regulatory deficiencies, and improve the reputation of the acquired business in the community and control costs. We may not be able to fully integrate the operations of the acquired businesses with our current business structure in an efficient and cost-effective manner, having a material adverse effect on our operations. In addition, we may be exposed to unforeseen liabilities of an acquired company, which liabilities may not be covered by insurance or indemnification from sellers and may be material.
In addition, as we continue to expand our markets, our growth could strain our resources, including management, information and accounting systems, regulatory compliance, logistics, and other internal controls. Our resources may not keep pace with our anticipated growth. If we do not manage our expected growth effectively, our future prospects could be affected adversely.
We may face increased competition for attractive acquisition and joint venture candidates.
We intend to continue growing through the acquisition of additional home-based and hospice agencies and the formation of joint ventures with hospitals for the operation of home-based and hospice agencies. We face competition for acquisition and joint venture candidates, which may limit the number of acquisition and joint venture opportunities available to us or lead to the payment of higher prices for our acquisitions and joint ventures. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to identify suitable acquisition or joint venture opportunities in the future or that any such opportunities, if identified, will be consummated on favorable terms, if at all. Without successful acquisitions or joint ventures, our future growth rate could decline. In addition, we cannot guarantee that any future acquisitions or joint ventures, if consummated, will result in further growth.
Federal regulation may impair our ability to consummate acquisitions or open new agencies.
Changes in federal laws or regulations may materially adversely impact our ability to acquire home nursing agencies or open new start-up home nursing agencies. For example, CMS has adopted a regulation known as the “36 Month Rule” that is applicable to home health agency acquisitions. Subject to certain exceptions, the 36 Month Rule prohibits buyers of certain home health agencies - those that either enrolled in Medicare or underwent a change in ownership fewer than 36 months prior to the acquisitions - from assuming the Medicare billing privileges of the acquired agency. Instead, the acquired home health agencies must enroll as new providers with Medicare. As a result, the 36 Month Rule may further increase competition for acquisition targets that are not subject to the rule, and may cause significant Medicare billing delays for the purchases of home health agencies that are subject to the rule.
We have invested in development stage companies which may require further funding to support their respective business plans, which may ultimately prove unsuccessful.
In conjunction with the Almost Family Merger, we obtained controlling interests in (a) Imperium Health Management, LLC, an Accountable Care Organization ("ACO") enablement and management company, (b) Long Term Solutions, Inc., a provider of in-home nursing assessments for the long-term care insurance industry, and (c) certain assets operated by Advanced Care House Calls, which provides primary medical care for home-bound or home-limited patients with chronic and acute illnesses who have difficulty traveling to a doctor's office. These investments, which make up our HCI segment, are highly speculative, at risk and we may choose to make further investments, all of which may ultimately provide no return and could lead to a total loss of our investment.
Furthermore, portions of our HCI segment compete in new and developing markets with new competitors or solutions developed and introduced to the market regularly. Such new products may capture market share more quickly or may have access to more capital than the capital we have allocated for such projects. Our efforts to bring new solutions to the market may prove unsuccessful, may prove to be unprofitable, or may prove to be costlier to bring to market than anticipated. Our investments in these activities are highly speculative in nature and subject to loss. Specifically, our assessment subsidiary competes with larger, better capitalized competitors, while also being particularly reliant on a small number of large customers, the loss of which could significantly and adversely impact its results.
Our HCI segment also primarily provides strategic health management services to ACOs that have been approved to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (“MSSP”). ACO’s and the MSPP are relatively new and are subject to meaningful regulation with various regulators having adopted or considering the adoption of new legislation, rules, regulations and guidance relating to formation and operation of ACOs. Failure to comply with legal or regulatory restrictions may result in CMS terminating the ACO's agreement with CMS and/or subjecting the ACO to loss of the right to engage in some or all business in a state, payments fines or penalties, or may implicate federal and state fraud and abuse laws relating to anti-trust, physician fee-sharing arrangements, anti-kickback prohibitions, prohibited referrals, any of which may adversely affect our HCI segment’s operations and/or profitability.
Failure of, or problems with, our critical software or information systems could harm our business and operating results.
We depend upon reliable and secure information systems to provide valuable tools by which we manage our business, comply with legal requirements, provide services, and bill and collect for our services. In addition to our Service Value Point system, our business is also substantially dependent on non-proprietary software provided by third-party vendors. For example, we utilize third-party software information systems for billing and maintaining patient claim receivables. Our business also depends on a comprehensive payroll and human resources system for basic payroll functions and reporting, payroll tax reporting, managing wage assignments and garnishments. Our business also supports the use of Electronic Visit Verification ("EVV") to collect visit submission information through our delivery of home and community-based, and we rely on third-party software vendors to provide continual maintenance, enhancements, as well as security of collected data. To the extent that our EVV vendors fail to support these processes, our internal operations could be negatively affected.
Our agencies also depend upon our information systems for accounting, billing, collections, risk management, quality assurance, payroll, education tracking, and operational performance. If we experience a reduction in the performance, reliability, availability, or accuracy of our information systems, our operations and financial performance, and ability to report timely and accurate information, could be adversely affected.
Our systems require constant maintenance, upgrades, and enhancements to preserve system capabilities and security and to meet our operational needs. Our information systems require an ongoing commitment of significant resources to maintain, protect, and enhance existing systems and develop new systems to keep pace with continuing changes in technology, evolving industry and regulatory standards, and changing customer preferences. Problems with, or the failure of, our information systems or software could negatively impact our clinical performance and our management and reporting capabilities. To the extent third-party software vendors fail to support our licensed software or systems, or if we lose our licenses, our operations could be materially and negatively affected. Any significant problems with or failures of our information systems or software could materially and adversely affect our operations and reputation, result in significant costs to us, cause delays in our ability to bill and collect from Medicare or other payors for our services, or impair our data capture, medical documentation, or ability to provide our services in the future. The costs incurred in correcting any errors or problems with our proprietary and non-proprietary software may be substantial and could adversely affect our net income.
Additionally, operations that we acquire must be integrated into our various information systems in an efficient and effective manner. For certain aspects, we rely upon third party contractors to assist us with those activities. If we are unable to integrate and transition any acquired business into our information systems, due to our failures or any failure of our third party contractors, we could incur unanticipated expenses, suffer disruptions in service, experience regulatory issues, and lose revenue from the operation of such business.
Our information systems are networked via public network infrastructure and standards based encryption tools that meet regulatory requirements for transmission of protected health information over such networks. We have built redundancy into our networks and installed privacy protection systems on our network and POC devices to prevent unauthorized access to proprietary, sensitive, and legally protected information. However, our technology may fail to adequately secure the confidential health information and personally identifiable information we maintain in our databases. Additionally, threats from computer viruses, instability of the public network on which our data transit relies, or other instances that might render those networks unstable or disabled would create operational difficulties for us, including difficulties effectively transmitting claims and maintaining efficient clinical oversight of our patients, as well as disrupting revenue reporting and billing and collections management, which could adversely affect our business or operations. If personal information or protected information of our patients, employees, or others with whom we do business is tampered with, stolen, or otherwise improperly
accessed, we may incur fines and penalties associated with the breach of security or be required to take other action in response to judicial or regulatory actions arising out of the incident, including under HIPAA or other judicial acts.
Our information systems are also subject to damage or service interruption due to natural disasters, floods, fires, loss of power, loss of telecommunications connectivity, and other events that may be beyond our immediate control. While we maintain and test various disaster recovery plans and procedures, our failure to successfully implement and execute upon such plans and procedures, and restore the full operational capabilities of our information systems and software in an effective and efficient manner, could have a material adverse effect on the functionality of our information systems and our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, and cause a possible significant disruption of our operations and services.
We develop and maintain portions of our clinical systems in-house. Failure of, or problems with, these systems could harm our business and operating results.
We develop and maintain proprietary software systems to collect assessment data, log patient visits, generate medical orders, and monitor treatments and outcomes in accordance with established medical standards. These systems integrate billing and collections functionality as well as accounting, human resource, payroll, and employee benefits programs provided by third parties. Problems with, or the failure of, such technologies and systems could negatively impact data capture, billing, collections, and management and reporting capabilities. Any such problems or failures could adversely affect our operations and reputation, result in significant costs to us, and impair our ability to provide our services in the future. The costs incurred in correcting any errors or problems may be substantial and could adversely affect our profitability.
Our ability to maintain the security of patient, employee, third-party, or company information could have an impact on our reputation, our financial position, and the results of our operations.
We have been, and likely will continue to be, subject to attempts of computer hacking, vandalism and theft, malware, computer viruses, ransomware, and other malicious codes, phishing, employee error and malfeasance, catastrophes, unforeseen events, or other cyber-attacks. To date, we have seen no material impact on our business or operations from these attacks or events. Any future significant compromise or breach of our data security, whether external or internal, or misuse of patient, employee, third-party or Company data, could result in significant costs, lost sales, fines, lawsuits, and damage to our reputation. The proliferation of ever-evolving threats mean that we and our third-party service providers and vendors must continually evaluate and adapt our respective systems and processes and overall security environment, as well as those of any operations we acquire, and incur significant expenses on such security measures. There is no guarantee that these measures will be adequate to safeguard against all data security breaches, system compromises, or misuses of data.
A cybersecurity or ransomware attack or other incident that affects our information systems security could cause a security breach that may lead to a material disruption to our information systems infrastructure or business and may involve a significant loss of business or patient health information. If a cybersecurity attack or other unauthorized attempt to access our systems or facilities were to be successful, it could result in the theft, destruction, loss, misappropriation, or release of confidential information or intellectual property, and could cause operational or business delays that may materially impact our ability to provide various healthcare services. Any successful cybersecurity attack or other unauthorized attempt to access our systems or facilities also could result in negative publicity which could damage our reputation or brand with our patients, referral sources, payors, or other third parties and could subject us to substantial sanctions, fines, and damages and other additional civil and criminal penalties under HIPAA, HITECH, the Omnibus Rule and other federal and state privacy laws, in addition to litigation with those affected.
While we provide our employees with training and regular reminders on important measures they can take to prevent breaches or phishing schemes, given the rapidly evolving nature and proliferation of cyber threats, there can be no assurance our training and network security measures or other controls will detect, prevent, or remediate security or data breaches in a timely manner or otherwise prevent unauthorized access to, damage to, or interruption of our systems and operations.
We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to protect against the threat of security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by breaches, including unauthorized access to patient data and personally identifiable information stored in our information systems, and the introduction of computer viruses or other malicious software programs to our systems, and cyber-attacks, email phishing schemes, malware, and ransomware. Moreover, a security breach, or threat thereof, could require that we expend significant resources to repair or improve our information systems and infrastructure and could distract management and other key personnel from performing their primary operational duties. In the case of a material breach or cyber-attack, the associated expenses and losses may exceed our current insurance coverage for such events. Some adverse consequences are not insurable, such as reputational harm and third-party business interruption. Failure to maintain proper function, security, or availability of our information systems or protect our data against unauthorized access could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations, and cash flows.
If we are subject to substantial malpractice or other similar claims, it could materially adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition.
The services we offer have an inherent risk of professional liability and substantial damage awards. At December 31, 2020, we have approximately 30,000 employees. In addition, we employ direct care workers on a contractual basis to support our existing workforce. We, and the nurses and other health care professionals who provide services on our behalf, may be the subject of medical malpractice claims. These nurses and other health care professionals could be considered our agents and, as a result, we could be held liable for their medical negligence. We cannot predict the effect that any claims of this nature, regardless of their ultimate outcome, could have on our business or reputation or on our ability to attract and retain patients and employees. We maintain malpractice liability insurance that provides primary coverage on a claims-made basis of $1.0 million per incident and $3.0 million in annual aggregate amounts. In addition, we maintain multiple layers of umbrella coverage in the aggregate amount of $40.0 million that provide excess coverage for professional malpractice and other liabilities. We are responsible for deductibles and amounts in excess of the limits of our coverage. Claims that could be made in the future in excess of the limits of such insurance, if successful, could materially adversely affect our financial condition. In addition, our insurance coverage may not continue to be available to us at commercially reasonable rates, in adequate amounts or on satisfactory terms.
Risk Factors Related to Capital and Liquidity
Delays in reimbursement may cause liquidity problems.
Our business is characterized by delays in reimbursement, from the time we request payment for our services to the time we receive reimbursement or payment. Beginning in 2021, we can no longer bill for and receive a portion of our estimated reimbursement at the commencement of the 30-day billing period. Instead, we are required to bill for and collect the entirety of our services upon completion of the 30-day billing period, and we expect to be paid within 14 to 17 days from the billing date. If we have information system problems or issues arise with Medicare or other payors, we may encounter further delays in our payment cycle. For example, in the past we have experienced delays resulting from problems arising out of the implementation by Medicare of new or modified reimbursement methodologies or as a result of natural disasters, such as hurricanes. We have also experienced delays in reimbursement resulting from our implementation of new information systems related to our accounts receivable and billing functions.
In addition, timing delays in billings and collections may cause working capital shortages. Working capital management, including prompt and diligent billing and collection, is an important factor in achieving our financial results and maintaining liquidity. It is possible that documentation support, system problems, Medicare, state Medicaid, or other payor issues, or industry trends may extend our collection period, which may materially adversely affect our working capital, and our working capital management procedures may not successfully mitigate this risk.
Our implicit price concessions may not be sufficient to cover uncollectible amounts.
On an ongoing basis, we review historical net cash realization for Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance revenue that we will not be able to collect. This allows us to calculate the expected loss on our revenue for the period we are reporting. Our implicit price concessions may underestimate actual uncollectible revenue for various reasons, including:
•adverse changes in our estimates as a result of changes in related collection rates,
•inability to collect funds due to missed filing deadlines or inability to prove that timely filings were made,
•adverse changes in the economy generally exceeding our expectations, or
•unanticipated changes in reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies.
If our implicit price concessions are insufficient to cover losses on our revenue, our business, financial position and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
The condition of the financial markets, including volatility and weakness in the equity, capital, and credit markets, could limit the availability and terms of debt and equity financing sources to fund the capital and liquidity requirements of our business.
Financial markets may experience significant disruptions, which could impact liquidity in the debt markets, making financing terms for borrowers less attractive and, in certain cases, significantly reducing the availability of certain types of debt financing. While we have not experienced any individual lender limitations to extend credit under our revolving credit facility, the obligations of each of the lending institutions in our revolving credit facility are independent and the availability of future borrowings under our revolving credit facility could be impacted by further volatility and disruptions in the financial credit markets or other events. Our inability to access our revolving credit facility or refinance the revolving credit facility would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.
Based on our current plan of operations, including acquisitions, we believe our existing cash balance, when combined with expected cash flows from operations and amounts available under our revolving credit facility, will be sufficient to fund our growth strategy and to meet our anticipated operating expenses, capital expenditures, and debt service obligations for at least the next 12 months. If our future net service revenue or cash flow from operations is less than we currently anticipate, we may not have sufficient funds to implement our growth strategy. Further, we cannot readily predict the timing, size, and success of
our acquisition and internal development efforts and the associated capital commitments. If we do not have sufficient cash resources, our growth could be limited unless we are able to obtain additional equity or debt financing.
The agreement governing our revolving credit facility contains, and future debt agreements may contain, various covenants that limit our discretion in the operation of our business.
The agreement and instruments governing our revolving credit facility contain, and the agreements and instruments governing future debt agreements may contain various restrictive covenants that, among other things, require us to seek consent or comply with or maintain certain financial tests and ratios in order to:
•incur more debt,
•redeem or repurchase stock, pay dividends or make other distributions,
•make certain investments,
•enter into transactions with affiliates,
•make unapproved acquisitions,
•enter into joint ventures,
•merge or consolidate,
•transfer or sell assets, and/or
•make fundamental changes in our corporate existence and principal business.
In addition, events beyond our control could affect our ability to comply with and maintain such financial tests and ratios. Any failure by us to comply with or maintain all applicable financial tests and ratios and to comply with all applicable covenants could result in an event of default with respect to our revolving credit facility or any other future debt agreements. An event of default could lead to the acceleration of the maturity of any outstanding loans and the termination of the commitments to make further extensions of credit. Even if we are able to comply with all applicable covenants, the restrictions on our ability to operate our business at our sole discretion could harm our business by, among other things, limiting our ability to take advantage of financing, mergers, acquisitions and other corporate opportunities.
If we are required to either repurchase or sell a substantial portion of the equity interests in our joint ventures, our capital resources and financial condition could be materially adversely impacted.
Upon the occurrence of fundamental changes to the laws and regulations applicable to our joint ventures, or if a substantial number of our joint venture partners were to exercise the buy/sell provisions contained in many of our joint venture agreements, we may be obligated to purchase or sell the equity interests held by us or our joint venture partners. In some instances, the purchase price under these buy/sell provisions is based on a multiple of the historical or future earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization of the equity joint venture at the time the buy/sell option is exercised. In other instances, the buy/sell purchase price will be negotiated by the joint ventures partners but will be subject to a fair market valuation process. In the event the buy/sell provisions are exercised and we lack sufficient capital to purchase the interest of our joint venture partners, we may be obligated to sell our equity interest in these joint ventures. If we are forced to sell our equity interest, we will lose the benefit of those particular joint venture operations. If these buy/sell provisions are exercised and we choose to purchase the interest of our joint venture partners, we may be obligated to expend significant capital in order to complete such acquisitions. If either of these events occurs, our net service revenue and net income could decline or we may not have sufficient capital necessary to implement our growth strategy.
We could be required to record a material non-cash charge to income if our recorded goodwill or intangible assets are impaired.
As of December 31, 2020, we had $1.6 billion of goodwill and intangible assets. We review goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets annually for impairment or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate potential impairment. The goodwill assessment includes comparing the estimated fair value of each reporting unit to the carrying value of the reporting unit. If we determine that the estimated fair value of our goodwill or intangible assets is less than the applicable book value or carrying value, we could be required to record a non-cash impairment charge to our consolidated statements of operations. Because goodwill and intangible assets represent a significant portion of the assets reflected on our consolidated balance sheets, any future impairment of these assets could result in a non-cash charge to our consolidated statements of operations and have a material adverse effect on our earnings, debt covenants, and ability to access capital.
Risk Factors Related to General Economic and Market Conditions
Current economic conditions and continued decline in spending by the federal and state governments could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.
While our services are not typically sensitive to general declines in the federal and state economies, the erosion in the tax base caused by a general economic downturn has caused, and will likely cause, restrictions on the federal and state governments’ abilities to obtain financing and a decline in spending. As a result, we may face reimbursement rate cuts or reimbursement delays from Medicare and Medicaid and other governmental payors, which could adversely impact our results of operations and cash flows.
Adverse developments in the United States could lead to a reduction in federal government expenditures, including governmentally funded programs in which we participate, such as Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, if at any time the federal government is not able to meet its debt payments unless the federal debt ceiling is raised, and legislation increasing the debt ceiling is not enacted, the federal government may stop or delay making payments on its obligations, including funding for government programs in which we participate, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Failure of the government to make payments under these programs could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Further, any failure by the United States Congress to complete the federal budget process and fund government operations may result in a federal government shutdown, potentially causing us to incur substantial costs without reimbursement under the Medicare program, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Historically, state budget pressures have resulted in reductions in state spending. Given that Medicaid outlays are a significant component of state budgets, we can expect continuing cost containment pressures on Medicaid outlays for our services.
We may be more vulnerable to the effects of a public health catastrophe than other businesses due to the nature of our patients.
The majority of our patients are older individuals and others with complex medical challenges, many of whom may be more vulnerable than the general public during a pandemic or other public health catastrophe. Our employees are also at greater risk of contracting contagious diseases due to their increased exposure to vulnerable patients. For example, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, we suffered losses to our consumer population and faced reductions in the availability of our clinical and para-professional employees. Additionally, we incurred higher than expected labor costs for existing staff and were required to hire replacements for affected workers at higher costs. Accordingly, the occurrence of certain public health catastrophes, including an extended continuation of the current COVID-19 pandemic, could cause material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Hurricanes or other adverse weather events could negatively affect the local economies in which we operate or disrupt our operations, which could have an adverse effect on our business or results of operations.
Our operations along coastal areas in the United States are particularly susceptible to adverse weather events, such as hurricanes and flooding. Adverse weather events could disrupt our business and results of operations, result in damage to our properties, and negatively affect the local economies in which we operate. Furthermore, climate change may increase the frequency and severity of such adverse weather events. Although we maintain insurance coverage, we cannot guarantee that our insurance coverage will be adequate to cover any losses or that we will be able to maintain insurance at a reasonable cost in the future. If our losses from business interruption or property damage exceed the amount for which we are insured, our results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected.
Certain provisions of our charter, bylaws, and Delaware law may delay or prevent a change in control of the Company.
Delaware law and our governing documents contain provisions that may enable our Board of Directors to resist a change in control of us. These provisions include:
•staggered terms for our Board of Directors,
•limitations on persons authorized to call a special meeting of stockholders,
•the authorization of undesignated preferred stock, the terms of which may be established and shares of which may be issued without stockholder approval,
•no cumulative voting for directors,
•director vacancies are filled by remaining directors (including vacancies resulting from removal), and
•advance notice procedures required for stockholders to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring
matters before an annual meeting of stockholders.
These anti-takeover defenses could discourage, delay, or prevent a transaction to acquire us and may permit our Board of Directors to choose not to entertain offers to purchase us, even if such offers include a substantial premium to the market price of our stock. Therefore, our stockholders may be deprived of opportunities to profit from a sale of control. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for stockholders to elect directors or cause us to take other corporate actions.
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments.|
We have no unresolved written comments from the staff of the SEC regarding our periodic or current reports filed under the Exchange Act.
Our principal executive office is located in Lafayette, Louisiana in a 66,846 square foot building. The Company owns the land and building, which houses the principal executive office, and is currently undergoing a home office expansion project. The Company has $48.2 million in construction in progress on its Consolidated Balance Sheets due to this project and estimates an additional $11.0 million of costs until the project is completed. The project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
In addition, the Company leases two off-campus office buildings in Lafayette, Louisiana, where we occupy 22,571 and 24,416 square feet. We anticipate consolidating activities currently conducted in these two off-campus sites to the principal executive office location once the home office campus expansion project is completed.
Of our operating service locations, eight are owned by us and the remaining locations are in leased facilities. Most of our operating service locations are located in general commercial office space. Generally, the office leases have initial terms ranging from one to five years. Most of the leases either contain multiple options to extend the lease period ranging in one to three year increments or convert to a month-to-month lease upon the expiration of the initial term.
Ten of our LTACHs are HwHs, meaning we have a lease or sublease for space with the host hospital. Generally, our leases or subleases for LTACHs have initial terms of five years, but range from three to ten years. Most of our leases and subleases for our LTACHs contain multiple options to extend the term in the range of one to five year increments.
We believe that our properties and facilities are well maintained and are generally suitable and adequate for the purposes for which they are used.
|Item 3.||Legal Proceedings.|
We provide services in a highly regulated industry and are a party to various proceedings (regulatory and other governmental), and internal audits and investigations in the ordinary course of business (including audits by ZPICs, RACs, and investigations resulting from our obligation to self-report suspected violations of law). We cannot predict the ultimate outcome of any regulatory and other governmental and internal audits and investigations. While such audits and investigations are the subject of administrative appeals, the appeals process, even if successful, may take several years to resolve. The Department of Justice, CMS, or other federal and state enforcement and regulatory agencies may conduct additional investigations related to our businesses in the future. These audits and investigations have caused and could potentially continue to cause delays in collections and recoupments from governmental payors. Currently, the Company has recorded $16.9 million in other assets, which are from government payors related to the disputed finding of pending ZPIC audits. Additionally, these audits may subject us to sanctions, damages, extrapolation of damage findings, additional recoupments, fines, and other penalties (some of which may not be covered by insurance), which may, either individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition and results of operations.
We are involved in various legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business. Although the results of litigation cannot be predicted with certainty, we believe the outcome of pending litigation will not have a material adverse effect, after considering the effect of our insurance coverage, on our consolidated financial information.
|Item 4.||Mine Safety Disclosures.|
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities|
Sales of Unregistered Common Stock
Market Information and Holders
Our common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market (“NASDAQ”) under the symbol “LHCG.” As of February 16, 2021, there were approximately 436 registered holders of record of our common stock.
We have not paid any dividends on our common stock since our initial public offering in 2005 and do not anticipate paying dividends in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain future earnings, if any, to support the development and growth of our business. Payment of future dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and subject to any requirements under our credit facility or any future debt instruments.
Price Range of Common Stock
The following table provides the high and low prices of our common stock during each quarter in 2020 and 2019 as quoted by NASDAQ:
The closing price of our common stock as reported by NASDAQ on February 22, 2021 was $203.09.
This item is incorporated by reference from our Annual Report to Stockholders for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data.|
The selected consolidated financial data presented below is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements for each of the years in the five year period ended December 31, 2020. The financial data for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related Notes included in Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data included herein (amounts in thousands, except share and per share data).
|Year Ended December 31,||2020||2019||2018||2017||2016|
|Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:|
|Net service revenue||$||2,063,204||$||2,080,241||$||1,809,963||$||1,062,602||$||900,033|
|Net income attributable to LHC Group, Inc.’s common stockholders||111,596||95,726||63,574||50,112||36,583|
|Net income attributable to LHC Group, Inc.'s common stockholders:|
|Weighted average shares outstanding:|
|As of December 31,||2020||2019||2018||2017||2016|
|Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:|
|Total LHC Group, Inc. stockholders’ equity||1,528,770||1,413,323||1,316,925||448,868||395,126|
|Item 7.||Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.|
The following discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements about future revenues, operating results, plans and expectations. Forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions and estimates that are inherently subject to significant risks and uncertainties and our results could differ materially from the results anticipated by our forward-looking statements as a result of many known or unknown factors, including, but not limited to, those factors discussed in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors. Also, please read the “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” set forth at the beginning of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In addition, read the following discussion in conjunction with Part 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K as well as our Consolidated Financial Statements and the related Notes contained elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We provide post-acute health care services primarily to Medicare beneficiaries throughout the United States, through our home health agencies, hospice agencies, home and community-based, long-term acute care hospitals, and HCI. Our net service revenue decreased $17.0 million to $2.063 billion for the year ending December 31, 2020 from $2.080 billion for the year ending December 31, 2019 largely due to the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2020, we acquired 24
agencies, such that, as of December 31, 2020, we operated 827 locations in 35 states within the continental United States and the District of Columbia.
On April 1, 2018, we completed our Merger with Almost Family, whereby Almost Family became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company. The accompanying audited results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 include the results of Almost Family for the twelve month periods and operations for the year ended December 31, 2018 includes the results of operations for Almost Family for the period April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
Our services are classified into five segments: (1) home health, (2) hospice, (3) home and community-based, (4) facility-based services, offered primarily through our LTACHs, and (5) HCI.
Through our home health services segment we offer a wide range of services, including skilled nursing, medically-oriented social services, and physical, occupational and speech therapy. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 537 home health service locations, of which 322 are wholly-owned by us, 211 are majority-owned or controlled by us through equity joint ventures, two are controlled by us through license lease arrangements, and the remaining two are only managed by us.
Through our hospice services segment, we offer a wide range of services, including pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, inpatient and respite care, homemaker services, and counseling. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 120 hospice locations, of which 56 are wholly-owned by us, 62 are majority-owned by us through equity joint ventures and two, are controlled by us through license lease arrangements.
Through our home and community-based, our services are performed by paraprofessional personnel, and include assistance to elderly, chronically ill, and disabled patients with activities of daily living. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 124 community-based services locations, of which 109 are wholly-owned and 15 are majority-owned through an equity joint venture.
We provide facility-based services principally through our LTACHs. As of December 31, 2020, we operated 11 LTACHs with 12 locations, of which all but three are located within host hospitals. We also operate two skilled nursing facilities, one pharmacy, a rural health clinic, one physician practice, one family health center, and 16 physical therapy clinics. Of these 34 facility-based services locations as of December 31, 2020, 23 are wholly-owned by us and 11 are controlled by us through equity joint ventures.
Our HCI segment reports on our developmental activities outside its other business segments. The HCI segment includes (a) Imperium Health Management, LLC, an ACO enablement and management company, (b) Long Term Solutions, Inc., an in-home assessment company serving the long-term care insurance industry, and (c) certain assets operated by Advanced Care House Calls, which provides primary medical care for patients with chronic and acute illnesses who have difficulty traveling to a doctor’s office. These activities are intended ultimately, whether directly or indirectly, to benefit our patients and/or payors through the enhanced provision of services in our other segments. The activities all share a common goal of improving patient experiences and quality outcomes, while lowering costs. They include, but are not limited to, items such as: technology, information, population health management, risk-sharing, care-coordination and transitions, clinical advancements, enhanced patient engagement and informed clinical decision and technology enabled in-home clinical assessments. We have 12 HCI locations, with 11 being wholly-owned and one controlled by us through an equity joint venture.
The percentage of net service revenue contributed from each reporting segment for the each of the periods ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 was as follows:
|Type of Segment||2020||2019||2018|
|Home and Community-Based||9.4||10.0||9.5|
The following table provides a summary of our acquisitions, divestitures and internal development activities from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020. This table does not include two skilled nursing facilities, pharmacy, family health center, rural health clinic, physician practice, and physical therapy clinics through our facility-based services segment.
|Home and Community -Based Agencies||Long-Term Acute Care|
|Total at January 1, 2019||555||108||81||12||12|
|Total at December 31, 2019||553||110||107||13||10|
|Total at December 31, 2020||537||120||124||12||12|
Coronavirus and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
The COVID-19 outbreak has adversely impacted economic activity and conditions worldwide, including work forces, liquidity, capital markets, consumer behavior, supply chains, and macroeconomic conditions. After the declaration of a national emergency in the United States on March 13, 2020, in compliance with stay-at-home and physical distancing orders and other restrictions on movement and economic activity intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we have altered numerous clinical, operational, and business processes. While each of the states deemed healthcare services an essential business, allowing us to continue to deliver healthcare services to our patients, the effects of the pandemic have been wide-reaching. We have implemented contingency planning policies; whereby most employees in our home offices located in Louisiana and Kentucky are working remotely in compliance with CDC recommendations and federal and state governmental orders. We have invested in technology and equipment that allows our remote workforce to provide continued and seamless functionality to our clinicians who continue to care for our patients on service.
We are taking precautions to protect the safety and well-being of our employees by purchasing and delivering additional supplies of personal protection equipment to our clinicians across the country. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we promptly convened a cross-functional COVID-19 task force comprised of our company's leaders that continually communicates with our clinicians and other employees concerning best practices and Company changes in policies and procedures.
We continually review and adjust to changes to adapt to the current environment associated with COVID-19. We remain fully functional and continue to provide our patients with critical services during the pandemic. In addition, we currently plan to continue to execute on our strategic business plans.
In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Government enacted the CARES Act on March 27, 2020. The following portions of the CARES Act impacted us during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020:
•Provider Relief Fund: During the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, we received $93.3 million from the Provider Relief Fund. We recognized no funds for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 in our consolidated statements of income. The full amount received of $93.3 million is recorded as a short-term liability in government stimulus advance in our consolidated balance sheet. It is our intent to return the funds to the government.
•Accelerated and Advance Payments Program (AAPP): AAPP extended financial hardship relief to Medicare providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to provide necessary funds when there is a disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing. As of December 31, 2020, we received $318 million of accelerated and advance payments. The recoupment of AAP will occur under a tiered approach. Beginning at one year from the date the payment was issued and continuing for 11 months, Medicare payments owed to providers will be recouped at a rate of 25%. If any amount of AAPP funds that we received from CMS remain unpaid after the initial 11 month period, CMS will recoup 50% of Medicare payments otherwise owed to us during the following six months. Interest will be assessed on any amount of the AAPP funds that we received from CMS that remain unpaid following those
recoupment periods. CMS will issue a repayment letter to the Company for any such outstanding amounts, which must be paid in full within 30 days from the date of the letter. We intend to repay the full amount outstanding before any interest accrues.
•Suspension of the 2% sequestration payment adjustment: CMS suspended the 2% sequestration payment adjustment for patient claims with dates of services or end of period dates from May 1 through December 31, 2020. As of December 31, 2020, we recognized $18.1 million of net service revenue due to the suspension of the 2% sequestration payment adjustment during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, respectively. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, 2020, extends the suspension of the 2% sequestration payment adjustment to March 31, 2021.
•Waiver of the application of site-neutral payment: Under Section 1886(m)(6)(A)(i) of the Act, the claims processing systems will be updated to pay all LTACH cases admitted during the COVID-19 PHE period at the LTACH PPS standard federal rate, effective for claims with an admission date occurring on or after January 27, 2020 through the end of the PHE period. During the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, respectively, we recognized $19.2 million of net service revenue due to the suspension of site-neutral payments.
•Delaying payment of the employer portion of social security tax: The Company can defer payments of the employer portion of social security tax for 2020, which will be due in 50% increments, with the first due by December 31, 2021 and the second 50% due by December 31, 2022. As of December 31, 2020, we deferred $51.9 million of social security tax payments.
While during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, we did not experience a material disruption in our ability to continue to provide services to our patients, there is no guarantee that we won’t experience such service disruption in the future or a decrease in demand for our services as a result of COVID-19. The rapid development and fluidity of this situation makes it difficult to predict the ultimate impact of COVID-19 on our business and operations. Nevertheless, COVID-19 presents a material uncertainty which could materially impact our business and results of operations in the future.
Home Health Services
On October 29, 2020, CMS released the final rule for fiscal year 2021 to update base payment rates by a net market basket index of 1.9%, which is an annual inflation update of 2.3%, reduced by a 0.3% productivity adjustment and 0.1% reduction in the rural add-on percentages mandated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The base 30 day payment rate is increased from $1,864.03 to $1,901.12. The following lists additional fiscal year 2021 reimbursement items:
•a reduction of payment (including LUPA) rates by 2% for home health agencies that do not submit required quality data
•using wage indexes for the Office of Management and Budget's core-based statistical areas with a cap of 5% of wage index decreases and no cap on wage index increases
•continued phase-out of the rural add-on
•continued 2020 levels of PDGM case mix weights and LUPA thresholds
•finalization of plan of care requirements regarding telehealth visits.
On July 31, 2020, CMS released the final rule for fiscal year 2021 to update payment rates and the wage index. The hospice payment update is a 2.4% increase to the payment rates. The final rule will apply a 5% cap on any decrease in a geographic area’s wage index value from fiscal year 2020. No such cap will be applied in fiscal year 2022. In addition, the final rule increases the aggregate cap value of $30,683.93 for fiscal year 2021, compared to $29,964.78 for fiscal year 2020.
Based on these estimates, the following are the final fiscal year 2021 base payment rates for various levels of care, which began on October 1, 2020 and will end on September 30, 2021 and fiscal year 2020 base payment rates for various levels of care, which began on October 1, 2019 and ended September 30, 2020 (payment rates for hospice providers not complying with the hospice quality reporting requirements will be 2% lower than the values referenced below):
|Description||Fiscal Year 2021|
Rate per patient day
|Fiscal year 2020|
Rate per patient day
|Routine Home Care days 1-60||$||199.25||$||194.50|
|Routine Home Care days 61+||$||157.49||$||153.72|
|Continuous Home Care||$||1,432.41||$||1,395.63|
|Full Rate = 24 hours of care|
|$58.15 = hourly rate for 2020|
$59.68 = hourly rate for 2021
|Inpatient Respite Care||$||461.09||$||450.10|
|General Inpatient Care||$||1,045.66||$||1,021.25|
On August 2, 2018, CMS posted a display copy of the final rule for the annual update to Medicare payment rates and policies for the fiscal year 2019 inpatient hospitals prospective payment system and the LTACH PPS. The final rule was effective for discharges occurring on or after October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. CMS finalized a 0.9% overall increase in payments under the LTACH PPS in fiscal year 2019 based upon a 1% increase in payments for standard Federal payment rate cases and a 0.4% increase in payments for site neutral payment cases. On October 3, 2018, CMS published a correction to the final rule revising the fiscal year 2019 LTACH PPS standard Federal payment rate to $41,558.68 (instead of $41,579.65 as published in the final rule on August 2, 2018). CMS also finalized elimination of the 25 Percent Rule, but implemented a one-time budget neutrality adjustment of approximately 0.9% for fiscal year 2019 to cover the cost of elimination of the rule.
CMS also finalized LTACH policy changes effective for cost reporting periods beginning on or after October 1, 2019, permitting LTACHs to establish psychiatric and rehabilitation units, and to co-locate with other IPPS-exempt hospitals to provide LTACH, psychiatric and rehabilitative care on the same campus. CMS also increased flexibility for co-located satellite LTACH facilities clarifying that such co-located satellites do not need to comply with some of the separateness and control requirements of a co-located hospital. The proposed rule also makes some changes to the LTACH quality reporting program by removing three quality measures and refraining from adding additional measures.
On August 2, 2019, CMS issued a final rule for the fiscal year 2020 LTACH-PPS. Overall, CMS expected LTACH-PPS payments to increase by approximately 1.0%, which reflected the continued statutory implementation of the revised LTACH-PPS payments. LTACH-PPS payments for fiscal year 2020 for discharges paid using the standard LTACH payment rate were expected to increase by 2.7% after accounting for the proposed annual standard Federal rate update for fiscal year 2020 of 2.5%, an estimated decrease in outlier payments of 0.2%, and other factors.
LTACH-PPS payments for cases continuing to transition to the site neutral payment rates are expected to decrease by approximately 5.9%. This accounts for the LTACH site neutral payment rate cases that will continue to be paid a blended payment rate as the rolling statutory transition period ends for LTACH discharges occurring in cost reporting periods beginning in fiscal year 2020, and other changes.
On September 2, 2020, CMS issued a final rule for the fiscal year 2021 LTACH-PPS. CMS expects LTACH-PPS payments to decrease by 1.1%, which reflects continued statutory implementation of the revised LTACH-PPS payment system. LTACH-PPS payments for fiscal year 2021 for discharges paid using the standard LTACH-PPS payment rate are expected to increase by 2.2% primarily due to the annual standard Federal rate update of 2.3%.
LTACH-PPS payments for cases that will complete the statutory transition to the lower payment rates under the dual rate system are expected to decrease by 24%. This accounts for the LTACH site neutral payment rate cases that will no longer be paid a blended payment rate for LTACH discharges occurring in cost reporting periods beginning in fiscal year 2020.
Medicare Accountable Care Organizations
The Affordable Care Act established ACOs as a tool to improve quality and lower costs through increased care coordination in the Medicare fee-for-service ("FFS") program, also known as "Original Medicare." The Medicare FFS program covers approximately 70% of the Medicare recipients or approximately 36 million eligible Medicare beneficiaries. ACOs are typically formed as legal entities by groups of doctors and other healthcare providers who endeavor to work together to provide high quality services and care for their patients through three-year contracts with CMS. Provider and beneficiary participation in an ACO is purely voluntary and Medicare beneficiaries retain their current ability to seek treatment from any provider they wish. Beneficiaries are assigned to ACOs using an "attribution" model based on a plurality of services provided by the primary care physician. Beneficiaries retain the right to use any doctor or hospital who accepts Medicare, at any time.
CMS established the MSSP to facilitate coordination and cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care for Medicare FFS beneficiaries and to reduce costs. Eligible providers, hospitals, and suppliers may participate in the MSSP by creating, participating in or contracting with an ACO. The MSSP is designed to improve beneficiary outcomes and increase value of care by (1) promoting accountability for the care of Medicare FFS beneficiaries, (2) requiring coordinated care for all services provided under Medicare FFS, and (3) encouraging investment in infrastructure and redesigned care processes. The MSSP will reward ACOs that provide healthcare services at a cost for the ACO's patients during a relevant measurement
year that is below the ACO's benchmark costs established by CMS, while also meeting performance standards on quality of care. Under the final MSSP rules, Medicare is to reimburse individual providers and suppliers for specific items and services as Medicare currently does under the FFS payment methodologies. MSSP rules require CMS to develop a benchmark for savings to be achieved by each ACO, if the ACO is to receive shared savings or for ACOs that have elected to accept responsibility for losses. An ACO that meets the program's quality performance standards will be eligible to receive a share of the savings to the extent its assigned beneficiary medical expenditures are below its own medical expenditure benchmark provided by CMS. The Company's HCI services provides specialized management services to ACOs, and in return, the Company shares in any MSSP payments received by the ACO.
This section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K generally discusses 2020 and 2019 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2020 and 2019. Discussions of 2018 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2019 and 2018 that are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K can be found in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in Part II, Item 7 of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 filed on February 27, 2020.
The following table sets forth, for the period indicated, each of our segment's data regarding census, admissions, billable hours and patient days:
Ended March 31,
Ended June 30,
Ended September 30,
Ended December 31,
|Average Medicare census||46,093||44,811||47,120||47,219|
|Average Medicare census||3,996||4,022||4,091||4,032|
|Home and Community-Based:|
Ended March 31,
Ended June 30,
Ended September 30,
Ended December 31,
|Average Medicare census||49,411||49,827||49,016||49,108|
|Average Medicare census||3,447||3,760||3,883||3,914|
|Home and Community-Based:|
Consolidated Results of Operations
The following table sets forth, for the period indicated, our consolidated results (amounts in thousands):
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Consolidated Services Data:|
|Net service revenue||$||2,063,204||$||2,080,241|
|Cost of service revenue (excluding depreciation and amortization)||1,250,403||1,324,887|
|General and administrative expenses||632,847||596,006|
|Impairment of intangibles and other||1,849||7,734|
|Income tax expense||36,043||26,607|
|Income attributable to noncontrolling interests||26,337||18,126|
|Net income available to LHC Group, Inc.’s common stockholders||$||111,596||$||95,726|
Consolidated net service revenue was negatively impacted due to COVID-19, which affected all percentages of revenue disclosed below. The following table sets forth our consolidated results as a percentage of net service revenue, except income tax expense, which is presented as a percentage of income attributable to LHC Group, Inc.’s common stockholders:
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Consolidated Services Data:|
|Cost of service revenue (excluding depreciation and amortization)||60.6||%||63.7||%|
|General and administrative expenses||30.7||28.7|
|Impairment of intangibles and other||0.1||0.4|
|Income tax expense||24.4||21.7|
|Income attributable to noncontrolling interests||1.3||0.9|
|Net income attributable to LHC Group, Inc.’s common stockholders||5.4||4.6|
Consolidated net service revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $2.06 billion compared to $2.08 billion for the same period in 2019, a decrease of $17.0 million, or 0.8%.
Consolidated net service revenue was comprised of the following for the periods ending December 31:
|Home and Community-Based||9.4||10.0|
Revenue derived from Medicare represented 62.1% and 64.1% of our consolidated net service revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
The following table sets forth each of our segment's revenue growth or loss, along with key applicable statistical data, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 and the related change from the same period in 2019 (amounts in thousands, except statistical data, and revenue excludes implicit price concessions):
Organic Growth (Loss)%
Total Growth (Loss) %
New Medicare admissions
Average Medicare census
Home health episodes
New Medicare admissions
Average Medicare census
Home and Community-Based
(1) Organic - combination of same store, a location that has been in service with us for greater than 12 months, and de novo, an internally developed location that has been in service for 12 months or less.
(2) Acquired - purchased locations that have been in service with us 12 months or less.
The decrease in our consolidated net service revenue in 2020 as compared to 2019 was due to several factors. Our home health revenue per episode decreased due to the 4.3% behavioral adjustment associated with the implementation of PDGM during 2020. In addition, COVID-19 caused our Medicare reimbursement to decline. The Medicare reimbursement was negatively impacted from the increase in LUPAs, a decrease in patient acuity, and a decrease in institutional admissions. Patient volumes declined in our home and community-based segment due to the continued impact of COVID-19.
Our home health and hospice segments received the benefit of the suspension of the 2% sequestration payment adjustment for Medicare claims with dates of service from May 1 through December 31, 2020. Our LTACHs received the benefit of the suspension of the 2% sequestration payment adjustment for Medicare claims with dates of service from May 1 through
December 31, 2020 and the waiver of site-neutral payments for LTACH Medicare claims admitted during the public health emergency.
Organic growth is primarily generated by population growth in areas covered by mature agencies and by increased market share in acquired and developing agencies. Historically, acquired agencies have the highest growth in admissions and average census in the first 24 months after acquisition, and have the highest contribution to organic growth, measured as a percentage of growth, in the second full year of operation after the acquisition.
The following table sets forth the reconciliation of total revenue disclosed above, which excludes implicit price concessions, to net service revenue recognized for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (amounts in thousands):
|2020||% of Net Service Revenue||2019||% of Net Service Revenue|
|Less: Implicit price concessions||33,873||1.6||%||21,667||1.0||%|
|Net service revenue||$||2,063,204||$||2,080,241|
Cost of Service Revenue
The following table summarizes cost of service revenue (amounts in thousands, except percentages, which are percentages of the segment's respective net service revenue):
|Salaries, wages, and benefits||$||756,483||51.7||%||$||860,184||57.2||%|
|Supplies and services||55,306||3.8||34,805||2.3|
|Salaries, wages, and benefits||$||107,539||44.1||%||$||101,927||44.9||%|
|Supplies and services||35,564||14.6||30,517||13.4|
|Home and Community-Based|
|Salaries, wages, and benefits||$||145,150||74.6||%||$||154,665||74.2||%|
|Supplies and services||3,398||1.7||988||0.5|
|Salaries, wages, and benefits||$||62,360||48.5||%||$||51,941||46.5||%|
|Supplies and services||23,354||18.2||21,053||18.8|
|Salaries, wages, and benefits||$||14,299||44.1||%||$||13,707||46.2||%|
|Supplies and services||297||0.9||433||1.5||%|
Consolidated cost of service revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $1.25 billion compared to $1.32 billion for the same period in 2019, a decrease of approximately $74.5 million, or 5.6%.
Our cost of service revenue was impacted by:
•cost containment efforts within our home health and hospice segments due to streamlining of leadership within each respective segment as we completed the integration of Almost Family in 2019
•cost mitigation efforts associated with PDGM within the home health segment during 2020
•lower patient volumes and a decline of in-person visits at the beginning of the second quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19 policies implemented by public health and governmental authorities, which patient volumes and in-person visits began to stabilize during the end of the second quarter of 2020
•increased costs within each of our segments associated with significantly increased supplies and services costs related to COVID-19, including additional PPE purchases
•the sale of Ingenious Health at the beginning of 2019, which resulted in lower net service revenue during 2020 in our HCI segment offset by the recognition of MSSP earnings, which resulted in higher revenue in our HCI segment during 2020.
General and Administrative Expenses
The following table summarizes general and administrative expenses (amounts in thousands, except percentages, which are percentages of the segment's respective net service revenue):
|General and administrative||$||452,232||30.9||%||$||426,775||28.4||%|
|Depreciation and amortization||12,336||0.8||10,501||0.7|
|General and administrative||$||64,369||26.4||%||$||59,341||26.2||%|
|Depreciation and amortization||2,085||0.9||1,849||0.8|
|Home and Community-Based|
|General and administrative||$||43,789||22.5||%||$||42,647||20.5||%|
|General and administrative||$||39,464||30.7||%||$||34,991||31.3||%|
|Depreciation and amortization||3,971||3.1||3,367||3.0|
|General and administrative||$||11,744||36.2||%||$||13,998||47.2||%|
Consolidated general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 were $632.8 million compared to $596.0 million for the same period in 2019, an increase of approximately $36.8 million, or 6.2%. The increase in general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net service revenue was a result of a decrease in our home health revenue per episode due to a decrease in our patient acuity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, heightened costs and the additional administrative costs of COVID-19 and investments in our technology infrastructure increased our expenses during
the year. Finally, the increase from 2019 to 2020 related to costs associated with the completion of certain acquisitions during the latter part of 2019 and the twelve months ended 2020.
Income Tax Expense
Consolidated income tax expense for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $36.0 million compared to $26.6 million for the same period in 2019. The increase in income tax expense was primarily attributable to the increase in our results of operations in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Our cash balance at December 31, 2020 was $286.6 million, compared to $31.7 million at December 31, 2019. We have $529.9 million of available liquidity from cash and our revolving credit facility, net of $411.2 million liabilities associated with the AAPP and Provider Relief Fund. Based on our current plan of operations, including acquisitions, we believe this amount, when combined with expected cash flows from operations and amounts available under our revolving credit facility will be sufficient to fund our growth strategy and to meet our anticipated operating expenses, capital expenditures, and debt service obligations for at least the next 12 months.
Our reported cash flows are affected by various external and internal factors, including the following:
•Operating Results – Our net income has a significant effect on our operating cash flows. Any significant increase or decrease in our net income could have a material effect on our operating cash flows.
•Timing of Acquisitions – We use a portion of our operating and/or financing cash flows for acquisitions. When the acquisitions occur at or near the end of a period, our cash outflows significantly increase.
•Timing of Payroll – Some of our employees are paid bi-weekly on Fridays, while others are paid weekly on Fridays. Operating cash outflows increase in reporting periods that end on a Friday.
•Self-Insurance Plan Funding – We are self-funded for health insurance and workers compensation insurance. Any significant changes in the amount of insurance claims submitted could have a direct effect on our operating cash flows.
Cash used in investing activities primarily relates to acquisitions of home nursing, hospice agencies, and LTACHs, while cash used by financing activities primarily relates to borrowings or payments on outstanding debt agreements and payments to our noncontrolling interest partners.
The following table summarizes changes in cash flows (amounts in thousands):
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Net cash provided by (used in):|
|Change in cash||$||254,897||$||(17,691)|
|Cash at beginning of period||31,672||49,363|
|Cash at end of period||$||286,569||$||31,672|
The CARES Act provided additional cash during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 and increased our net cash provided by operating activities by $318 million of Accelerated and Advance Payments and $51.9 million payment deferral of our portion of social security payroll tax. This was offset by use of increased prepaid medical supplies due to the need of obtaining personal protective equipment to our clinicians and increased costs of salaries, wages and benefits associated with the increased staffing demands associated with our response to COVID-19. The Provider Relief Funds of $93.3 million offset our cash used in our financing activities. The remaining change in our financing activities was due to payments made on our line of credit.
On March 30, 2018, we entered into a Credit Agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., which was effective on April 2, 2018. The Credit Agreement provides a senior, secured revolving line of credit commitment with a maximum principal borrowing limit of $500.0 million, which includes an additional $200.0 million accordion expansion feature, and a letter of credit sub-limit equal to $50.0 million. The expiration date of the Credit Agreement is March 30, 2023. Our obligations under the Credit Agreement are secured by substantially all of the assets of the Company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, which assets include the Company's equity ownership of its wholly-owned subsidiaries and its equity ownership in joint venture entities. Our wholly-owned subsidiaries also guarantee the obligations of the Company under the Credit Agreement.
Revolving loans under the Credit Agreement bear interest at, as selected by us, either in (a) Base Rate, which is defined as a fluctuating rate per annum equal to the highest of (1) the Federal Funds Rate in effect on such day plus 0.5%, (2) the Prime Rate in effect on such day, and (3) the Eurodollar Rate for one month interest period on such day plus 1.5%, plus a margin ranging from 0.50% to 1.25% per annum or (b) Eurodollar Rate plus a margin ranging from 1.50% to 2.25% per annum. Swing line loans bear interest at the Base Rate. We are limited to 15 Eurodollar borrowings outstanding at the same time. We are required to pay a commitment fee for the unused commitments at rates ranging from 0.20% to 0.35% per annum depending upon our consolidated Leverage Ratio, as defined in the Credit Agreement. The effective interest rates on our borrowings under the Credit Agreement were 2.19% and 3.71% as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
At December 31, 2020, we had $20.0 million drawn, letters of credit in the amount of $25.4 million outstanding under the credit facility, and $454.6 million remaining borrowing capacity available under the Credit Agreement. At December 31, 2019, we had $253.0 million drawn and letters of credit outstanding in the amount of $28.4 million under our Credit Facility.
Under the Credit Agreement, a letter of credit fee shall be equal to the applicable Eurodollar Rate on the average daily amount of the letter of credit exposure. The agent's standard up-front fee and other customary administrative charges will also be due upon issuance of the letter of credit along with a renewal fee on each anniversary date of such issuance while the letter of credit is outstanding.
Borrowings accrue interest under the Credit Agreement at either the Base Rate or Eurodollar rate are subject to the applicable margins as set forth below:
|Commitment Fee Rate|
|>1.00:1.00 ≤ 2.00:100||1.75||%||0.75||%||0.250||%|
|>2.00:1.00 ≤ 3.00:1.00||2.00||%||1.00||%||0.300||%|
Our Credit Agreement contains customary affirmative, negative and financial covenants, which are subject to customary carve-outs, thresholds, and materiality qualifiers. These include bankruptcy and other insolvency events, cross-defaults to other debt agreements, a change in control involving us or any subsidiary guarantor and the failure to comply with certain covenants. The Credit Facility allows us to make certain restricted payments within certain parameters provided we maintain compliance with those financial ratios and covenants after giving effect to such restricted payments or, in the case of repurchasing shares of its stock, so long as such repurchases are within certain specified baskets.
At December 31, 2020, we were in compliance with all debt covenants contained in the Credit Agreement governing our credit facility.
The following table discloses aggregate information about our contractual obligations and the periods in which payments are due as of December 31, 2020 (amounts in thousands):
|Payment Due by Period|
|Recorded Liabilities:||Total||Less than 1|
|1-3 Years||3-5 Years||More than 5|
|Uncertain tax position (1)||6,203||6,203||—||—||—|
|Government stimulus advance||93,257||93,257||—||—||—|
|Other liabilities (2)||51,856||25,928||25,928||—||—|
|Purchase obligations (3)||10,972||10,972||—||—||—|
|Total contractual cash obligations||$|