Kentucky-based Hosparus Health is poised for expansion — through joint ventures, new investments in its palliative care program and the forthcoming launch of a PACE center.
The nonprofit hospice provider’s subsidiary — Care Guide Partners — has applied to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a PACE license, according to CEO David Cook. Before submitting an application, CMS requires providers to acquire a building and design a center to house the program.
Before coming to Hosparus in 2021, Cook led an organization in North Carolina that offered both hospice and PACE. But his interest in the service precedes that experience.
“I was interested in PACE services just because of the similarity that it has to hospice care and the need that it fills, often for some of the poor folks in a community. Because most of the individuals accessing PACE are going to be Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” Cook told Hospice News at the Home Care 100 conference in Orlando, Florida. “A lot of times you find that they don’t have an option to stay at home, because they can’t afford to bring in support systems or pay for private sitters, and they end up going to a nursing home. That may not be the best solution for the individual or the family, and then PACE can become a solution.”
Pending CMS approval, the new PACE center will open in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
PACE is not the only plan that Hosparus has in mind for Care Guide Partners. It is also expanding its palliative care services through that and another subsidiary, Pallitus Health Partners. These efforts will help ensure that seriously ill patients who are not yet hospice eligible don’t slip through the cracks in the health care continuum, according to Cook.
The organization is also set to build a new grief counseling center during 2023, with construction expected to begin in March or April, Cook said. This follows a recent de novo that opened in Campbellsville, Kentucky.
Hosparus is also among the growing number of hospice and palliative care providers that are pursuing joint ventures with hospitals and health systems, which can offer unique advantages compared to traditional referral streams.
Hospices are developing joint ventures, in part, to develop integrated models to improve transitions of care. From a payer standpoint, hospices add value in their ability to help curb hospitalizations and emergency visits among patients. For providers, joint venture partners can share some of the financial risk involved in value-based reimbursement.
Beyond payment, hospice and health system joint ventures can also ease staffing strains across the care continuum, allowing the partners to pool clinicians to work across a variety of settings.
“We’re doing a lot of work with partnerships. We were excited to put in a clinic within Baptist Hospital in Louisville. We’re working with a lot of other hospital partnerships, and we’ve got a couple of others that we’re having conversations with that are very interested in adding that level of support,” Cook said. “Some of these partnerships are about goals that these partners are trying to achieve and workforce shortage issues. There are things that we need to do to be able to support people with health care, and we’ve got to do it smarter, sometimes coming together in a partnership.”