Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) has agreed to purchase the hospice and home health operations of the Nebraska-based nonprofit Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). The transaction is expected to close July 1. Financial terms were undisclosed.
VNA serves patients in Omaha, Neb., Council Bluffs, Iowa, and surrounding areas. The 125-year-old organization pursued the sale in order to ensure that its home health and hospice operations would remain financially viable in the long term.
“During the last few years, the foundational expenses necessary to meet the rules and regulations of the health insurance industry have overshadowed the ability to produce revenue,” Visiting Nurse Association President and CEO James Summerfelt told Hospice News. “New care providers have moved into our community, duplicating VNA services and making the market overly competitive.”
VNA is refocusing on its original mission of providing hospice and home health to the uninsured as Amedisys takes on the organization’s insured patients, according to Summerfelt. Additionally, the nonprofit will collaborate with the Amedisys subsidiary AseraCare to facilitate services for homeless patients. Amedisys acquired AseraCare in 2020 in a $235 million cash purchase.
VNA will retain its other service lines, which include nursing care for homeless shelters, parenting support, mother and child services, immunizations and school health programs.
Amedisys has been an active acquirer in the hospice market. The company’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Gerard indicated in a first quarter earnings conference call that M&A is Amedisys’ “main capital deployment priority.” One of the largest hospice and home health providers in the nation, Amedisys has several forthcoming transactions in its pipeline and is consistently on the lookout for new acquisition targets.
“M&A is an important tool for us to continue to expand our geographies and market share, and we are continuing to look for more significant ways to deploy capital to grow inorganically throughout 2021,” CEO Paul Kusserow said in the earnings call. “While these are small deals, they increase our presence in strong markets.”
Amedisys earned more than $537 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2021, up from nearly $491.7 million in Q1 2020. The company’s hospice business accounted for $191.5 million in Q1, marking an increase from $169.4 million during the prior year’s quarter.
Hospice utilization in VNA’s home state of Nebraska is in line with the 2018 national average of slightly more than 50%. Utilization in the state reached 51% among Medicare decedents in 2018, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Utah leads the nation in utilization at 60.4%.
Iowa ranks fifth in the country for hospice utilization at 56.6%, NHPCO reported.
“Amedisys will provide additional scale and resources that will expand our opportunities to care for more patients and expand home health services to more communities across Nebraska and Iowa, especially during these unprecedented and evolving times in the healthcare industry,” Gerard said.