Alivia Care has gained a new affiliate in George-based Hospice Satilla. The agreement continues an industry-wide trend of smaller providers joining forces to build scale in anticipation of value-based payment models.
As hospices move closer to value-based payment structures like Medicare Advantage, scale will become increasingly important. Many private payers prefer to work with providers that have a large geographic footprint, in response hospices have been pursuing mergers, acquisitions and partnerships to build up their negotiating power and remain competitive with larger for-profit companies.
“Although Hospice Satilla is a strong, well-run hospice organization with quality-rated care and amazing community support, the board recognized changes were coming that would pose significant challenges for community-based hospices like ours,” Rai B. Duane, president of the board of directors and former executive director of Hospice Satilla. “Affiliating with a larger organization to share resources and access additional support was essential to ensuring the long-term success of our community treasure.”
Alivia Care came into existence last year when Florida’s Community Hospice & Palliative Care rebranded into a larger company with a wider range of services. Alivia is poised to launch home health care programs, private duty nursing services, personal care, PACE programs and advanced care management in 2021 and beyond.
Providers, including Alivia Care, are also focused on moving care further upstream by diversifying their service lines to include palliative care, home health, PACE and other offerings. Alivia’s advanced care management component is designed specifically for participation in the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation’s Serious Illness Population (SIP) payment model, which is slated to begin in April 2021. The program is designed to serve patients with complex, chronic needs who have received fragmented care.
“The community-based legacy providers really find themselves in a position where they are not in that mode of dealing with a company that has an aggressive sales and marketing function. They have invested more in care,” said Alivia Care CEO Susan Ponder-Stansel. “If we create an organization that allows us to share resources and develop programs together and avoid duplicating research, services and expenses, then we would be in a much stronger competitive position and also able to keep our focus on providing that quality care at the bedside.”
From its very inception, Alivia has been focused on growth, with affiliations as a primary pathway. The organization is working to develop a network of provider organizations, including hospices, that can collectively negotiate with payers within value-based programs, through a strategy called “Better Together.”
Hospice Satilla is the second affiliation in the state of Georgia for Alivia Care since the company was established last September. The organization has also brought Hospice of the Golden Isles into its fold.
The initial discussions between Alivia and Hospice Satilla began in the wake of the Hospice of the Golden Isles agreement. A Golden Isles executive connected Ponder-Stansel with Satilla’s leadership, beginning conversations that ultimately led to this affiliation.
The network that Alivia is building is distinct from a traditional acquisition. In this model, hospices can join Alivia as members, maintaining their own license, board and keeping their corporate entity intact.
“This makes sense for all of us involved,” Ponder-Stansel said. “These hospices had such great visibility and regard in their local communities. The last thing we wanted to do is take away or lose that.”