2018-09-08 / Front Page

Bids much lower than expected

By Johnny Whitfield
Courier-Times Editor

Person County leaders are mulling over a bid to buy the county’s home health and hospice operations, but they are looking at a much smaller offer than they were expecting to get.

During discussions earlier this year, consultants told commissioners that the average sale of a public home health and hospice operation was in the range of $2.3 million.

But the bid Person County received from Medical Services of America, came to just a fraction of that amount – $200,000.

County manager Heidi York said the Person County operations were smaller than previously thought. Consultants with Clifton/Larsen/Allen told York that the operations’ were small enough that the sales price wouldn’t likely rise to the level of the average price in the market. “They are saying the size and the patient numbers and financials aren’t there to support a larger sales price,” York said.

Still, the figures are much lower than county leaders were expecting. It’s unclear how commissioners will respond to the bid.

Board members have not yet discussed the offer in a public meeting. Commissioners could decided to proceed with a sale to MSA, which would likely include some negotiations between the parties before a final sale price is reached. The county could also choose to keep the operations under the county’s auspices.

That’s what employees of the agency asked commissioners to do earlier this year during a public hearing to take comment on the idea of selling the agencies.

Employees then worried that charity care would fall, response times would lengthen and that local employees would not be able to keep their jobs.

The guidelines put out by the county when the operations were put up for sale, however, would require that the company provide a certain level of charity care and it would also protect agency employees – who are currently county employees – from job cuts as the programs transition to a private company.

Commissioners will hold another public hearing at their Sept. 17 meeting to take comments on MSA’s offer to purchase the agencies.

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