LHC Group, Christus Health Expand Joint Venture Partnership

LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) has inked another joint venture agreement.

On Thursday, the Lafayette, Louisiana-based home health, hospice and personal care services provider announced plans to expand its existing JV partnership with Christus Health, a nonprofit health system out of Irving, Texas.

LHC Group and Christus have been JV partners since 2017.

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“Our experience working with [LHC Group] in other communities has proven that they work hard to invest and grow services that are vital to the community, like home care and hospice,” Christus Health Chief Strategy and Network Officer Paul Generale said in a press release announcing the news.

Specifically, the JV expansion adds a hospice provider in San Marcos, Texas, to the LHC Group-Christus partnership. The expansion agreement is expected to be finalized on Nov. 1, according to the organizations.

Once it is completed, LHC Group’s JV with Christus will include 22 home health, hospice and palliative care locations across three states. It also includes a number of community-based and long-term acute care locations.

In total, LHC Group is the preferred joint venture partner for almost 400 U.S. hospitals and health systems. The company signed its first JV in 1998 with Opelousas General Hospital.

While LHC Group operates across 35 states and Washington, D.C., it has been a hyper-local focus that has made its JV strategy so successful, according to Chairman and CEO Keith Myers.

“The real key to success is being able to realize that all health care is local and creating a model that works for that [particular] community,” Myers said last month at the Home Health Care News FUTURE conference. “Rather than thinking that you’re such an expert in everything and trying to deploy a one-size-fits all model.”

On its end, Christus Health operates more than 600 services and facilities, including more than 60 hospitals and long-term care facilities. It also oversees more than 400 clinics and outpatient centers, with dozens of other health ministries and related ventures.

The health system’s relationship with LHC Group has been one of its strengths while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several months, it noted in the press release.

Prior to the Christus expansion, LHC Group’s most recent JV moves included two new agreements in Georgia.

At FUTURE, Myers said he remains bullish on the JV strategy for the rest of 2020 and beyond. The company’s strong JV outlook is partly due to home health’s increasingly important role in managing complex patient populations and succeeding in emerging payment models.

“We’re taking more acute patients with each passing year,” Myers said. “We’ve moved from cost reimbursement to prospective payment, now to being not just a participant but, in many cases, the manager of bundles and value-base models. I think bringing all of that expertise to the table is important to our joint venture partners.”

In most of its JVs, LHC Group has at least two, though often three, of its service lines active with a single partner. 

“I think what we provide is more up to date, cutting-edge support for them, because this industry is changing so fast,” Myers said at FUTURE.

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