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Unity Health System plans to start a certified home health agency, Unity officials said Thursday.
Home health care agencies send nurses and aides to provide temporary home health services, most often to recovering post-operative patients. Medicare payments account for a large slice of home health care reimbursements and Medicare certified agencies are generally the largest. So-called licensed agencies have state approval but do not have the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ authorization to take Medicare payments.
Unity’s home health service would be the area’s fourth Medicare-certified agency and its third non-profit certified home care service. It would join the non-profit Lifetime Care and Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County Inc. and the for-profit HCR Home Care.
Lifetime Care is associated with Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. VNS is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center. HCR is a locally based employee stock ownership plan company.
Unity projects serving 900 patients in its first year of operation in 2013 and expects to serve some 5,000 by the end of 2015, system officials said.
The state Department of Health until recently had blocked new home care agencies, hewing to a moratorium on approvals for the past 32 years. After the department lifted the ban in January, it saw a flood of applications, fielding more than 100 but approving only 27. Unity was the only Monroe County home care applicant to win its approval.
In recommending that the department green light Unity’s application, the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency cited a projected 32 percent increase in demand for home care services by 2020.
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