The Top 10 Home Health Care News Stories of 2021

The public health emergency continued to have an impact on home-based care providers in 2021. It didn’t define the year, however.

As the top Home Health Care News stories of 2021 suggest, this year was about so much more than the COVID-19 crisis. Even more than the pandemic, the past 12 months have been about industry-shaping deals that will continue to shape the in-home care narrative for years to come.

Reflect back on this year in home-based care by revisiting 10 of HHCN’s most widely read stories.


1. Honor to Buy Home Instead, Creating $2 Billion Home Care Services Company (Aug. 6)

In August, Honor shocked the home care world by revealing plans to acquire Home Instead Senior Care for an undisclosed sum. At the time, the Honor-Home Instead enterprise represented more than $2.1 billion in home care services revenue, according to the companies.

Since then, Honor and Home Instead leaders have been working to integrate the franchise organization’s vast network, which is made up of over 1,200 locations across the U.S. and several other countries. The deal likely signals a shift in home care strategy, with operators seeking to become more sophisticated on the data and technology fronts.


2. Amazon Reveals National Expansion Plans for In-Home Care Platform ‘Amazon Care’ (March 17)

Speaking of data and technology, HHCN’s second-most popular story of the year was our coverage of Amazon Care’s expansion plans. In Spring, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced it was bringing its on-demand, hybrid in-home care platform to more markets – and eventually to the entire U.S.

Although Amazon Care is still in its infancy, it has already landed some pretty noteworthy clients, including Hilton, one of the world’s largest hospitality companies. Neil Lindsay, a former senior vice president in Amazon’s Prime business, was recently tapped to lead the company’s health care efforts.

3. UnitedHealth’s Optum Reportedly Strikes Deal for Landmark Health (Feb. 21)

Toward the end of February, reports surfaced that Optum – a part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) – had reached a deal to acquire in-home medical group Landmark Health. The two companies have been relatively quiet about the transaction, but Landmark’s new CEO, Chris Johnson, touched on the topic during HHCN’s FUTURE conference.

“It has really helped us to expand the number of patients that have access to this type of service, and do so in a way that really creates density for our local medical groups, which just enhances the quality of care that we can provide,” Johnson said in December.

4. Brookdale Selling Majority Stake in Home Health Business to HCA Healthcare (Feb. 24)

Also at the end of February, Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (NYSE: BKD) announced plans to sell a majority stake in its home health, hospice and outpatient therapy business to HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA). The pair finalized the $400 million transaction in July, with LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) later acquiring home health and hospice agencies in 22 states from the joint venture.

This deal wasn’t such a shocker, with Brookdale previously discussing plans to sell its health care services segment to maximize shareholder value and deliver more types of care to its residents.

5. Senior Care Innovator Bill Thomas: America Needs to Change How It Talks About ‘Home Care’ (May 4)

In this popular story, HHCN caught up with senior care innovator Bill Thomas to talk about home care, its role in the care continuum and its future.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, it seems like the term ‘home care’ has become a bit dated,” Thomas said. “That’s not our future. We’re going to be at the intersection of all the most important trends in health and wellness in the United States.”

6. CMS to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Workers in ‘Most Health Care Settings’ — Including Home Health Care (Sept. 9)

COVID-19 didn’t define home-based care in 2021, but it still played a big role. In September, the Biden administration explained it would be pushing for stronger vaccine requirements for U.S. health care workers – and not just those who work in long-term care facilities.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an emergency temporary standard for health care worker vaccination requirements about two months after the announcement. It has come under fire ever since, with dozens of states suing the administration.

In-home care providers have been left to navigate the legal twists and turns while simultaneously battling worsening labor shortages.

7. Humana to Acquire All of Kindred at Home, Divest Hospice and Community Care Operations (April 27)

You can’t talk about “industry-shaping home health deals” without mentioning Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) fully acquiring Kindred at Home.

This year, Humana decided to go all-in on Kindred to build the largest value-based home health business in the country. Eventually, the plan is to rebrand Kindred to “CenterWell Home Health” and divest its hospice assets.

HHCN recently got an update on that plan while speaking with Greg Sheff, interim segment president of home solutions at Humana, for Disrupt.

8. The Top 10 Largest Home Health, Hospice Providers in 2020 (Feb. 9)

LexisNexis Risk Solutions — a part of global analytics company RELX (NYSE: RELX) — releases a ranking of the top 100 largest home health and hospice providers each year. Its most recent list came out on Feb. 9, with some movement among the largest home health and hospice companies.

9. Top Home Health Trends for 2021 (Jan. 18)

Among our predictions at the start of this year, HHCN said that investment in home-based care would reach new heights, that patient-acuity levels would continue rising and that policymakers would take a sledgehammer to the traditional home health benefit. We were right on the first two points – and partly right on the third.

Gaining momentum in Congress, Choose Home could still substantially add to the home health benefit at some time next year.

10. ‘Once They’re Gone, They’re Gone’: Family & Nursing Care Rebuilds Workforce After COVID-19 Losses (Jan. 3)

Staffing-shortage stories were all too common in 2021. This is one example, where HHCN reconnected with the Silver Spring, Maryland-based private-pay home care provider Take Family & Nursing Care to learn more about their workforce challenges.

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