Upstate HomeCare grows through challenges

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CLINTON, N.Y. - Despite the looming specter of Round 2 of competitive bidding, things are looking good for Upstate HomeCare, which on May 9 acquired the infusion assets of American HomePatient Infusion Pharmacy in Rochester.

"Growth is exciting," said Greg LoPresti, vice president and COO. "Our employees read the news and it's easy to get down. They are excited and up to this challenge."

As a result of the deal, Upstate HomeCare plans to expand its pharmacy operations in Rochester and add 15 to 20 new full- and part-time employees. It also gives the provider a little more presence in Buffalo, where its market share is not as large as LoPresti would like.

This is the second acquisition in eight months for Upstate HomeCare, which in September acquired Mohawk Valley Homecare. 

"Growth, whether it's organic, through acquisition or by creating economies of scale, is necessary to survive competitive bidding," said LoPresti.

Upstate HomeCare, which covers most of upstate New York, is squarely in Round 2 territory, which encompasses cities like Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Although the provider's core business is home infusion, which so far is exempt from competitive bidding, it also does respiratory and durable medical equipment.

"Home infusion is less affected (by competitive bidding), although we categorize enteral nutrition under infusion," he said. "Who knows what else Medicare is going to include in the next round?"

Upstate HomeCare is also in the middle of a massive, system-wide software conversion that will enable it to increase efficiencies, making reimbursement challenges hopefully easier to swallow, said LoPresti.

"We are going to be able to go from intake to deliveries and billing in one seamless fashion,'" he said.

American HomePatient, which was acquired last year by private equity firm Highland Capital Management, is refocusing on its core respiratory and DME services. Since then, the provider has had to do some "re-juggling," said Bob Leonard, an analyst with The Braff Group, a Pittsburgh-based M&A firm.

"It may have just been a way to take out some cash and that was the salable piece," he said. "There is a pretty robust market for infusion right now, more so than respiratory."