Amedisys, LHC Group accused of adding visits for Medicare cash
Senate investigators are accusing three of the nation's biggest home care providers—including Baton Rouge-based Amedisys and Lafayette's LHC Group—of deliberately increasing their visits to patients to get higher payments from the government's Medicare program. A report released today by the Senate Finance committee lays out more than a half-dozen strategies used by executives at Amedisys, LHC Group and Atlanta-based Gentiva Health Services to increase home care, even when patients may not have required extra attention. Staffers for Senators Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, reviewed internal documents by the companies. They say records show caregivers targeted their number of visits to trigger bonus payments from Medicare. In one case, a company tasked a special team of workers to develop the most profitable treatment regimens possible. Medicare provides health coverage to more than 47 million seniors and spends $19 billion on home care annually, according to the report. Shares of home care providers fell in trading today on the news. Amedisys fell 71 cents, or 4.8%, to $14.11. The stock is down 58% in the year-to-date. The company says in a statement it is "disappointed with the committee's conclusions" and stands by its "integrity, ethics and patient care practices." Shares of LHC and Gentiva are also down today. On Friday, LHC announced it would pay $65 million to settle a civil inquiry with the federal government over whether some government-reimbursed patient care was medically necessary. Under the agreement, LHC did not admit wrongdoing and is still disputing the claims.
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