2017: Exits and allegations dominate

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Our list of the five most read provider stories of 2017 features headlines that contain words like “turmoil” and “uncertainty,” which pretty much sums up the year that was.

The No. 1 most-read story, “Turmoil continues at Pacific Pulmonary,” about the company’s plan to lay off 170 employees, was the latest installment in the ongoing saga about a once strong regional company. While it’s likely that competitive bidding played a part in the decline of Pacific Pulmonary’s fortunes, it probably didn’t help that in April, the provider agreed to pay $11.4 million to settle allegations that it participated in a kickback scheme in our No. 4 most read story, “Pacific Pulmonary settles whistleblower lawsuit.”

Which brings us to our No. 5 most read story, “Uncertainty kills Teijin’s bid for US HME market.” The parent company of Braden Partners—aka, Pacific Pulmonary—announced it was selling the company. Teijin cited negative developments in U.S. healthcare reform as a primary factor in its decision.

Also making hard (or is it easy?) decisions: LifeCare Solutions, which exited the California market where it had 30,000 patients and 13 locations. In our No. 2 most read story, “LifeCare Solutions leaves California,” CEO Robert Fahlman pointed firmly at the 40% rate reductions under the competitive bidding program as the reason why.

And finally, our No. 3 most read story was about whether the Linde-Praxair merger would have any noticeable impact on HME providers (not likely, say analysts). Although Linde made a big splash when it acquired Lincare for $4.6 billion in 2012, the industrial gas giant has kept a low profile in the HME industry. The merger, reported in “Linde-Praxair: Will merger have impact on HME?” was announced in February.