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Two days after Amedisys (Nasdaq: AMED) announced that Chris Gerard’s tenure in its top spot would be short-lived, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced the same about its then-CEO, Bob Chapek.
One is a home health company, and the other is a mass media and entertainment conglomeration.
But these two corporate American stories – on the surface – have many similarities.
Bob Iger served as the CEO of Disney from 2005 to early 2020. He led the company through a transformation, and his bold moves allowed a legacy entertainment company to thrive well into the 21st century.
Paul Kusserow served as the CEO of Amedisys from 2014 to early 2022. Under his watch, the company significantly grew its patient census through dealmaking and organic growth, jump-started its hospice segment, improved its quality scores and shifted its business to make it more future-facing.
Iger was tapped for the role after an internal operation dubbed “Save Disney.” Kusserow was named CEO after Amedisys publicly acknowledged its need for a transformation after significant struggles, including missed earnings, numerous drags on finances and underperforming care centers.
Both Iger and Kusserow are attributed with much of the success of their organizations over the last decade. And neither stayed away for long.
When they handed the keys over to their successors, their respective companies were both facing headwind-strong environments. For Disney, COVID-19 was less than a month away from shocking the American economy and its parks. And for Amedisys, COVID-19’s effects remained strong while labor pressures handicapped home-based care companies across the country.
Gerard’s takeover would be “no easy task,” Home Health Care News wrote at the time.
The former Disney CEO, Chapek, lasted over two years, while Gerard entered the role and exited in the same year.
Now, the men that led these two respected companies for so long are returning. What that may mean for Amedisys is the topic of today’s exclusive, members-only HHCN+ Update.
What’s next for Amedisys
Full details are not yet known on why Gerard ended up leaving the company, though a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission says he was “terminated without cause,” which likely rules out any misconduct.
But since Gerard took over, Amedisys stock has been on the wrong trajectory.
In the company’s third-quarter earnings call, Gerard did tout what seems to be an undeniable win – its partnership with CVS Health’s (NYSE: CVS) Aetna. That had myself – and others – wondering what was next for the home health industry’s relationship with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, and whether Amedisys may even have a leg up moving forward.
Both the Disney and Amedisys announcements were relatively shocking. And what others are considering about Disney is what I am considering now with Amedisys: What’s next?
Specifically, I am wondering if this will be a temporary tenure in which Kusserow steadies the ship and helps pick a new successor, or if he will make his mark on the company yet again with a splashy deal or unexpected turn.
While we wait to see, the next domino has already fallen. On Tuesday, Amedisys announced that Scott Ginn – the company’s CFO – has been also named the COO, which was Gerard’s former role.
Ginn has been with the company since 2007. He was named CFO in 2017 and promoted to EVP in 2021.
“I am proud to step into this position and to continue to lead the company I’ve had the privilege of serving for 15 years,” Ginn said in a statement. “I look forward to working more closely with our operators and capitalizing on the tremendous amount of opportunity ahead of us.”
Ginn and Kusserow were both a part of the $250 million deal for the high-acuity care company Contessa Health in 2021. As expected, that deal has been a near-term drag on financials, but has helped significantly with hospital and health system joint ventures, according to Amedisys.
The two could steer the company toward new frontiers, as it did with the Contessa Health acquisition. Alternatively, the company could get back to bread-and-butter M&A in home health care now that the payment rule for CY 2023 is final, or do the same in hospice. It could also take the Aetna case-rate contract and run with it, opening the company up to more growth and revenue from MA beneficiaries.
At the same time, after the Ginn promotion, I also wonder what kind of executive will take the reins from Kusserow when he does re-retire.
It could be someone from Ginn’s ilk, someone who has been in the industry for a long time and knows the ins and outs of operations.
But it could also be someone with a payer background, an occurrence that has become far more common with health care providers over the last few years.
Examples include: Lifespark’s chief population officer, Matt Nyquist, who was a former executive at UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) Optum; Signify Health’s (NYSE: SGFY) chief product officer Paymon Farazi, formerly of OptumInsight; and the behavioral health company Talkspace’s CEO, Ken Burdick, a veteran of UnitedHealthcare.
Given the Aetna partnership, a payer executive could help Amedisys get more from the rest of its MA contracts and ween the company further off its fee-for-service Medicare reliance.
Either way, Kusserow’s first moves as a returning CEO may give insight into who Amedisys’ next leader may be.
“Having the opportunity to be part of and lead Amedisys for the past seven years has genuinely been the highlight of my career,” Kusserow said in January.
Now, he will have his chance at an encore.