'It may be a model that could work' analyst says
It's too soon to say whether the Univita Health-Atenda Healthcare Solutions deal signals a new direction for the home health industry, but it's worth watching, say industry analysts.
"They are kind of out on the edge there, but it may indeed be a model that could work," said Bob Leonard, a broker with the Braff Group, an M&A firm based in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Univita Health coordinates aging-in-place services for managed care payers--everything from insurance underwriting to skilled nursing. Its acquisition of Atenda Healthcare Solutions brings it into the HME and home infusion markets.
"If you are smart enough to get people that know how to execute each piece, you can make it work," said Leonard.
There are definitely synergies between the two companies, say analysts. In particular, both companies work solely with managed care plans.
"Univita is trying to create a solution not only for patients but for payers, with the overall goal being to help patients and payers lower their healthcare costs," said Kevin Palamara, a managing director with Provident Healthcare Partners, a Boston-based M&A firm. "They see Atenda as fitting in very well with that strategy."
Most home medical needs are still paid primarily by Medicare, said Leonard, but that could change under healthcare reform.
"Managed care is a significant and growing payer," he said. "If Medicare goes more toward managed care, then contracting with managed care payers will be a significant factor."
It's a model that Univita has no plans to change, said Peter Goldstein, executive vice president of business development for Univita.
"We have a lot of expertise in capitation," he said. "Florida has a high adoption of managed care plans, but in other markets, almost nobody has them. That's not a market we want to be in." hme