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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 30, 2023

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition Period from to

Commission File Number 001-40362

 

img23775566_0.jpg 

 

Aveanna Healthcare Holdings Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

Delaware

81-4717209

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

400 Interstate North Parkway SE

Atlanta, GA 30339

 

(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)

 

(770) 441-1580

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

AVAH

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

 


 

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price as quoted by the Nasdaq Capital Market on July 2, 2022 (the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was $104.3 million. For purposes of this determination shares beneficially owned by executive officers, directors and ten percent stockholders have been excluded, which does not represent an admission by the registrant as to the affiliate status of any such person.

As of March 8, 2024, the registrant had 192,378,711 shares of common stock, $0.01 par value per share, outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the “2024 Proxy Statement”) are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The 2024" Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the registrant's fiscal year ended December 30, 2023.

 

Auditor Firm Id:

42

Auditor Name:

Ernst & Young LLP

Auditor Location:

Atlanta, Georgia

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

 

Page

PART I

Item 1.

Business

4

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

22

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

49

Item 1C.

Cybersecurity

50

Item 2.

Properties

51

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

51

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

51

PART II

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

52

Item 6.

[Reserved]

52

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

52

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

71

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

72

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

106

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

106

Item 9B.

Other Information

110

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

110

PART III

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

111

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

111

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

111

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

111

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

111

PART IV

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

112

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

115

 

 

 

 

Signatures

 

 

 

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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements,” as that term is defined under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”), Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this report, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial condition, business strategy, and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “design,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potentially,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions.

These statements are based on certain assumptions that we have made considering our experience in the industry as well as our perceptions of historical trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other factors we believe are appropriate in these circumstances. As you read and consider this Annual Report on Form 10-K, you should understand that these statements are not guarantees of performance or results. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Many factors could affect our actual results and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are subject to risks that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the following risks:

intense competition among home health, hospice and durable medical equipment companies;
our ability to maintain relationships with existing patient referral sources;
the possibility that our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected by public health emergencies, such as a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic or other public health emergencies;
our ability to have services funded from third-party payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance companies;
changes to Medicare or Medicaid rates or methods governing Medicare or Medicaid payments, and the implementation of alternative payment models, including but not limited to Medicare Advantage, Managed Care Organization, managed Medicaid, and other forms of managed care;
any downward pressure on reimbursement resulting from further proliferation of Medicare Advantage plans;
our limited ability to control reimbursement rates received for our services;
delays in collection or non-collection of our patient accounts receivable, particularly during the business integration process, or when transitioning between systems associated with clinical data collection and submission, as well as billing and collection systems;
healthcare reform and other regulations;
changes in the case-mix of our patients, as well as payer mix and payment methodologies;
any reduction in net reimbursement if we do not effectively implement value-based care programs;
our ability to attract and retain experienced employees and management personnel, and including both shortages in workforce and inflationary wage pressures;
any failure to maintain the security and functionality of our information systems or to defend against or otherwise prevent a cybersecurity attack or breach;
our substantial indebtedness, which increases our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions and may limit our ability to pursue strategic alternatives and react to changes in our business and industry;
our ability to identify, acquire, successfully integrate and obtain financing for strategic and accretive acquisitions;
risks related to legal proceedings, claims and governmental inquiries given that the nature of our business exposes us to various liability claims, which may exceed the level of our insurance coverage; and
the other risks described under Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Additionally, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from

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those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. Considering these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K might not prove to be accurate and you should not place undue reliance upon them or otherwise rely upon them as predictions of future events. All forward-looking statements made by us in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. All such statements speak only as of the date made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. We intend that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe-harbor provisions of the PSLRA.

 

Summary of Principal Risk Factors

 

You should carefully consider the summary of risks below, together with the more detailed risk factors related to our business and industry described under “Risk Factors” contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The occurrence of any of the events discussed below could significantly and adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows, which could result in a decline in the market price of our common stock.

 

Competition. Competition among home health, hospice and durable medical equipment companies is intense;
Referral source relationships. If we are unable to maintain relationships with existing patient referral sources, our business and financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected;
Public Health Emergencies. Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected by national pandemic events similar to the COVID-19 pandemic;
Reimbursement. The cost of healthcare is funded substantially by government and private insurance programs. If such funding is reduced or limited or no longer available, our business may be adversely impacted;
Medicare and Medicaid. Changes to Medicare rates or methods governing Medicare payments for our services could materially adversely affect our business;
Costs. Because we are limited in our ability to control reimbursement rates received for our services, our business could be materially adversely affected if we are not able to maintain or reduce our costs to provide such services;
Collections. Delays in collection or non-collection of our patient accounts receivable, or recoupment of payments previously received, particularly during the business integration process, or during system transitions, or in connection with complying with electronic visit verification (“EVV”) data collection and submission requirements, could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity;
Patient mix. Changes in the case-mix of our patients, as well as payer mix and payment methodologies, may have a material adverse effect on our profitability;
Payer contracting. Our failure to negotiate favorable managed care contracts, or our loss of existing favorable managed care contracts, could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition, results of operations and cash flows;
Competition for labor. The home health and hospice industries have historically experienced shortages in qualified employees and management, and competition for qualified personnel may increase our labor costs and reduce profitability;
Cybersecurity. Failure to maintain the security and functionality of our information systems, or to defend against or otherwise prevent a cybersecurity attack or breach, could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity; and
Regulation. We conduct business in a heavily regulated industry, and changes in regulations, the enforcement of these regulations, or violations of regulations may result in increased costs or sanctions that reduce our revenues and profitability.

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PART I

Item 1. Business.

 

Background

 

Aveanna is a Delaware corporation and was incorporated on November 30, 2016, originally under the name BCPE Oasis Holdings Inc. Aveanna commenced operations in March 2017 in connection with the transformative merger of Epic Health Services Inc. and Pediatric Services of America, Inc. in March 2017 under the name BCPE Eagle Holdings Inc. On May 26, 2017, we changed our name to Aveanna Healthcare Holdings Inc. and commenced trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on April 29, 2021. Our principal executive offices are located at 400 Interstate North Parkway, Suite 1600, Atlanta, Georgia and our phone number is (770) 441-1580. We maintain a website at www.aveanna.com. Information contained on, or accessible through, our website is not a part of and is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Unless the context otherwise requires, all references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to “Aveanna”, the “Company”, “we”, “our”, and “us” refer to Aveanna Healthcare Holdings Inc., including its consolidated subsidiaries.

 

Overview

 

We are a leading, diversified home care platform focused on providing care to medically complex, high-cost patient populations. We directly address the most pressing challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system by providing safe, high-quality care in the home, a lower cost care setting preferred by patients. Our patient-centered care delivery platform is designed to improve the quality of care our patients receive, which allows them to remain in their homes and minimizes the overutilization of high-cost care settings such as hospitals or skilled nursing facilities. Our clinical model is led by our caregivers, who provide a range of specialized clinical care and non-clinical services to address the complex needs of each patient we serve across the full range of patient populations: newborns, children, adults and seniors. We have invested significantly in our platform to bring together best-in-class talent at all levels of the organization and support such talent with industry leading training, clinical programs, infrastructure and technology-enabled systems, which are increasingly essential in an evolving healthcare industry. We believe our platform creates sustainable competitive advantages that support our ability to continue driving rapid growth, both organically and through acquisitions, and positions us as the partner of choice for the patients we serve.

 

Service Offerings

 

We provide a broad range of home care services. We seek to meet a full range of care needs for patients while minimizing the complexity and potential disruption to patient care associated with procuring multiple types of care from a number of independent providers. We believe this positions us as the provider of choice for patients, families, referral sources and payers.

 

Aveanna provides its services through three segments: Private Duty Services (“PDS”); Home Health & Hospice (“HHH”); and Medical Solutions (“MS”). This presentation aligns our financial reporting with the manner in which we manage our business operations, with a focus on the strategic allocation of resources and separate branding strategies between the business divisions.

 

Private Duty Services

 

Private Duty Services predominantly includes private duty nursing (“PDN”) services, as well as pediatric therapy services. Our PDN patients typically enter our service as children, as our most significant referral sources for new patients are children’s hospitals. It is common for our PDN patients to continue to receive our services into adulthood, as approximately 30% of our PDN patients are over the age of 18.

 

Private Duty Nursing

 

We are the largest provider of PDN services in the United States. We provide a range of services for medically complex children and young adults with a wide variety of serious illnesses and conditions, including chronic respiratory failure requiring tracheostomy and/or mechanical ventilation, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies, failure to thrive and anoxic brain injuries. Our caregivers, a majority of whom are registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, monitor an individual’s condition, administer medications and treatment regimens, provide enteral and other forms of tube feeding, monitor and maintain ventilators, administer pain management

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treatments and coordinate other forms of medical care. The length of service for a patient under our care can be three or more years until the patient graduates from the need for a feeding tube, ventilator or tracheostomy. This affords us the distinct ability to improve outcomes and control costs. However, many of our highest acuity patients remain on our services for ten or more years. Our PDN services typically last four to 24 hours a day. Our services are provided by our nursing staff up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with multiple nurses dedicated to our highest need patients.

 

Our services typically commence upon a patient’s discharge from the newborn intensive care unit or pediatric intensive care unit. While we focus primarily on pediatric PDN services, we continue to provide PDN services to our patients as they mature into adulthood. The majority of adult PDN patients have aged out of eligibility for pediatric PDN through Medicaid and are typically eligible to receive continued PDN services under Medicaid waiver programs.

 

We also administer payer authorized respite care (a form of non-medical personal care) and related services primarily to patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities or special needs. In the non-clinical business, the family primarily recruits and supervises the care provider. We oversee the administration of payroll taxes, provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and/or first aid certification and U.S. Department of Justice clearance for the care provider. Our non-clinical business has had highly stable reimbursement historically allowing for durable, profitable growth. While our non-medical caregivers generally earn at or above the minimum wage, this has not historically been a source of risk to our margins, as our non-clinical reimbursement rates generally have mechanisms to adjust commensurate with state and local changes in applicable minimum wages.

 

Pediatric Therapy

 

We provide physical, occupational and speech therapy services to assist pediatric patients in healing and achieving their highest level of functionality. Our therapy patients include those with developmental delays resulting from neurological, orthopedic, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal conditions. These services can be delivered at home or in a clinic setting. Typical conditions treated include feeding/swallowing disorders, bone/joint disorders and eye/hand coordination impairment. Similar to our enteral services, many of our PDN patients also require in-home therapy and we are able to deliver differentiated levels of service and efficiency as a “one stop shop provider.”

 

Home Health & Hospice

 

We provide home health, hospice and specialty program services to predominately elderly populations seeking compassionate care and assistance with activities of daily living in the home. Our home health services help our patients recover from surgery or illness, live with chronic diseases and prevent avoidable hospital readmissions. We assist patients and their families in understanding their medical conditions, how to manage these conditions and how to maximize the quality of their lives while living with a chronic disease or other health condition. We believe our adult home health services improve the quality of life of our patients, save costs for the healthcare system and result in better clinical outcomes, including low re-hospitalization rates, when compared to institutional settings of care.

 

Our Medicare-certified hospice services are designed to provide comfort and support for those who are dealing with a terminal illness. We provide a full range of hospice services designed to meet the individual physical, spiritual, and psychosocial needs of terminally ill patients and their families. Individuals with a terminal illness such as heart disease, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s or cancer may be eligible for hospice care if they have a life expectancy of six months or less. Our hospice services are primarily provided in the patient’s home, and are also provided in skilled nursing facilities and inpatient hospice units where clinically appropriate. The key services provided through our hospice agencies include pain and symptom management accompanied by palliative medication, emotional and spiritual support, inpatient and respite care, homemaker services and dietary counseling. We also provide personal care services which include non-medical assistance with activities of daily living and can help seniors avoid costlier downstream medical costs and hospitalizations.

 

Medical Solutions

 

We provide needed supplies to patients requiring enteral nutrition services or respiratory care. Enteral nutrition, also known as tube or intravenous (“IV”) feeding, is a way of delivering nutrition directly to the stomach or small intestine on an as-needed basis. Many of our PDN patients also require enteral nutrition. Our ability to serve as a single source provider to our patients, families and referral sources provides added cost savings and convenience relative to sourcing from multiple providers.

 

The MS business serves patients who have short or long-term disabilities and require a supply of infant, pediatric and adult formulas. We provide a wide selection of supplies, such as feeding pumps, g-tubes, feeding bags, syringes, IV poles, ventilators, oxygen and pulse

5


 

oximeters. Our distribution model provides a streamlined, single-provider experience, enabling patients to seamlessly access one of the largest selections of enteral formulas, supplies and pumps in the industry. In addition to providing the required supplies for enteral therapy, Aveanna offers same day (24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year) patient and caregiver education both in-hospital and at-home, by a registered nurse, registered dietitian or customer service technician.

 

Our Value Proposition

 

We believe our platform helps solve several of the most pressing challenges in healthcare today. We have designed our platform to deliver lower cost, high-quality care on a national scale to a medically complex, and often costly, patient base in the comfort of their own homes. We believe that our platform delivers a compelling value proposition to our key stakeholders.

 

Patients and Families

We deliver a patient-centered, personalized healthcare experience in the home where patients generally prefer to be.
Our robust recruiting infrastructure enables us to match patients and their families with the right nurses more quickly, avoiding unnecessary discharge delays from the hospital.
We enable families to continue working rather than foregoing employment to care for loved ones.
We provide a “one stop shop” range of clinical services to alleviate cost and administrative burden.

Nurses

We offer nurses a breadth of caseloads from which to choose that better meet their objectives.
Our technology-enabled tools simplify case selection, shift management and point of care medical documentation.
We believe our brand, training, benefits and career advancement programs are highly regarded.

Provider Partners

We help hospitals and health systems discharge some of their most sensitive, medically complex patients to their homes, with highly skilled and trained nurses.
We provide consistently high quality of care and compliance standards.
We build long-term, trusted relationships with our provider partners.

 

Payers

We are a trusted frontline caregiver with close relationships with our payer partners, giving Aveanna the ability to deliver faster discharges into the home or allow patients to remain in the home as opposed to an acute care setting.
We offer efficiency as a single-source contracting solution across a wide range of services and markets.
We continuously engage in and pursue value-based care models to align interests and save costs for payers.

 

Our Platform

 

We believe that our platform differentiates us from our competitors and enables us to serve our stakeholders and grow rapidly in a range of home care end markets. Key elements of our platform include:

 

Our Team

 

Our team is the driving force that has enabled us to build an industry leading home care platform. People at all levels on our team have worked together over several decades and bring a wealth of experience in home health at industry leading companies. The passion our team brings for delivering exceptional, patient-centered care supports our ability to attract, recruit and retain strong, operationally minded national and regional operators who are essential to executing on our local market strategy. In turn, we are better able to recruit and train passionate frontline caregivers to provide exceptional care to our patients. We believe the team we have built is the most essential element of our platform.

 

Our Culture

 

Our culture is the glue that binds our organization together. We have purposefully built a culture that attracts like-minded people who are aligned with our mission to change the way home care is delivered, one patient at a time. It is easy to overlook “culture” on paper – however, we fundamentally believe it drives our success and we take active steps to promote our culture. From day one at Aveanna, we welcome new hires into our culture with training centered around our Core Values to deliver care with compassion, work with team

6


 

integrity, strive for inclusion, embody trust, seek innovation and have fun. Compliance is the backdrop that underscores everything we do. These principles inform our fundamental operating processes, including everything from strategic planning, budgeting, go-to-market strategy and employee compensation and promotion. We believe our culture supports our ability to recruit, motivate and empower our people at all levels to deliver better patient care and drive our operating performance.

 

Our Systems, Processes and Technology

 

We have a corporate infrastructure with robust systems and processes in place designed to drive efficiency and support our future growth. We have invested significantly in our infrastructure and technology. Our frontline caregivers leverage our technology-enabled solutions, such as our remote care management tools that we deploy into patient homes to enhance data collection and the efficiency and quality of the caregiver experience, and our automated tools for patient scheduling, which seek to ensure appropriately trained nurses are scheduled for our most clinically complex patients. Our technology infrastructure includes cloud-based solutions that enable essential functions of our business to run more efficiently, including, from front to back: (i) Internet Collaborative Information Management Systems ("iCIMS") for sourcing, recruiting and onboarding; (ii) CellTrak EVV technology, as well as internally developed Aveanna Hope Devices with mobile connectivity installed in patient homes to capture care reporting; (iii) Netsmart myUnity, Homecare Homebase, and Brightree Cloud electronic medical records workflows for managing our specialized PDN, adult home health, and MS clinical workflows, respectively, (iv) GLS, Homecare Homebase and Brightree for revenue cycle management, and (v) Workday for core enterprise resource planning workflows around financial management, payroll and HR.

 

Our Acquisition Team and Integration Management Office (IMO)

 

We have a proven team of five people dedicated to sourcing, evaluating and executing on all aspects of our acquisition strategy, as well as transformational initiatives. Our IMO team has extensive integration experience with private duty services, home health businesses, and medical solutions, as well as deep functional experience in operations, consulting, finance, IT and administrative roles. We complement our internal team with a core group of third-party advisors with whom we have worked for decades. The experience and discipline the collective team brings to our acquisition strategy enables us to pursue and integrate multiple acquisitions simultaneously without disruption to our business or that of a target. We believe this is a truly differentiated capability relative to our home health peers.

 

Part of the success of our acquisition strategy is attributable to our proven playbook for bringing acquired companies onto our platform infrastructure, identifying and quickly capturing significant synergies to the overall enterprise and minimizing the risk of disruption to our underlying business. Our IMO is a key differentiator in this respect. Our IMO team consists of functional experts exclusively dedicated not only to integrating acquisitions quickly and efficiently, as well as overseeing transformational initiatives, such as systems conversions and implementations, material cost reduction and restructuring projects, among other things. Importantly, the IMO team begins developing a tailored integration plan for each acquisition we make early in the acquisition process, in parallel with our due diligence and prior to signing. This enables the IMO to launch an integration plan expeditiously once an acquisition is signed and maintain that momentum through and after closing. The IMO team coordinates seamlessly with our executive leadership through a steering committee-led governance structure that provides strategic direction and oversight for each acquisition. In partnership with our business teams, our IMO team oversees the integration of essential functional areas, including clinical operations, IT, revenue cycle, human resources, compliance and finance. The IMO team leverages technology to develop and measure progress against each integration plan. Significant emphasis is placed on clear, early and ongoing communication and rolling out the Aveanna culture to our newly acquired companies.

 

Our Competitive Strengths

 

Technology-Enabled Operating Platform and Corporate Infrastructure

 

The Aveanna platform was purpose-built to deliver high-quality clinical care efficiently. We have made significant investments in our technology and corporate infrastructure to build a scalable care delivery platform. Our technology platform includes multiple cloud applications for managing our business which enable and automate all of our mission critical business functions including caregiver recruiting, staffing, electronic health data capture, financial management, payroll, human resources management and billing and logistics. Our Aveanna Hope Devices and point-of-care technology that we have deployed to our frontline caregivers on tablets and mobile devices significantly improves caregiver efficiency and data collection. We believe our platform is a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace, driving superior operating performance and margins that enable us to reinvest in growth. We have made these investments in anticipation of the industry's move to value-based care and are well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.

 

Built to Scale Nationally across Private Duty Services, Adult Home Health and Hospice

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Over the past five years, we believe we have built the largest private duty services business in the United States via acquisitions and organic growth. Over this period of time, we also built the corporate infrastructure and processes to expand seamlessly into adult home health and hospice. We have proven our ability to execute our model in multiple geographies with various payers across all three verticals. We have created a repeatable, data-driven playbook to expand our presence across the United States and made substantial investments to support each key component of our approach.

 

Acquirer of Choice with Proven Ability to Integrate Acquisitions and Realize Synergies

 

Our scaled, national platform in otherwise highly fragmented markets positions us as a clear acquirer of choice for smaller providers seeking to partner with a leading platform. Since 2017, we have completed and integrated seventeen acquisitions. Our IMO team has developed a proven playbook over long merger and acquisition careers to lead the quick and synergistic integration of our acquisitions. We derive synergies from a host of areas including staffing optimization, technology integration, cross-selling, reduction of overhead, rationalizing overlapping markets and other operational efficiencies that are supported by the differentiated investments we have made in our platform.

 

Scale Advantages Result in a Network Effect, Accelerating Growth

 

Our scale enables a virtuous cycle of network effects and competitive advantages to our business. First, our local market density creates a network effect where more nurses and higher quality of care translate into the ability to staff cases quickly and find the right match, which in turn, drives more referrals and higher branch profit. This creates a virtuous cycle of scale advantage where higher volumes for Aveanna enable more platform reinvestment, more capital for acquisitions and de novo expansions, and greater payer and referral preference, further driving volumes. These platform investments in turn allow us to develop and maintain advantaged capabilities, technology and infrastructure that create more value for our customers and reinforce our advantages vs. competitors. In particular, we believe that (1) our larger nursing panel and one stop shop service offering translate into higher referent satisfaction levels, higher win rates and more case volumes, (2) our advantaged nurse recruiting, training and staffing capability translate into higher case fill rates and a higher quality of care, (3) our large and sophisticated business development team translates into higher rates of referent penetration in local hospitals, (4) our robust experience with managing payer relations gives us the ability to have conversations with our Managed Care partners to create value-based care arrangements, (5) our stronger set of regional management leaders translates into better execution, and (6) our investments in technology drive efficiency and quality. These scale advantages reinforce our local market share and competitive advantage at every step.

 

Our Growth Strategy

 

Increase Volumes within Our Existing Footprint

 

We expect to continue to gain share in our existing local markets through our “virtuous cycle” strategy, leveraging our highly regarded brand, service breadth, nurse recruiting and go-to-market capabilities to win a higher share of cases each year, expand our number of referral sources and grow our payer partnerships to deliver value in our services. A core component of this growth strategy is educating referral sources about the differentiated benefits and high-quality outcomes of our services, which result in a higher fill rate and lower rate of readmissions versus competitors. We believe we can further accelerate our growth through new workforce recruiting and training initiatives that will expand our capacity to grow and through de novo branch growth initiatives to grow our geographic coverage within existing markets. In addition, we intend to gain market share through investments in strong local branch leaders and technology infrastructure to enable digital and remote workforce training and onboarding.

 

Leverage Our Scale and Capabilities to Drive Value-Based Care Arrangements in Partnership with our Managed Care Organization Payer Partners

 

We believe that value-based care is the future of home health and have worked to equip ourselves to lead the transition. We believe that Aveanna is uniquely well-positioned to benefit from a shift towards value-based care by virtue of our scale. This allows us to care for a meaningful share of our payer partners’ eligible population, and the substantial investments we have made in our clinical training program, compliance protocols and technology infrastructure allow us to provide consistently high-quality care along with patient data and reporting directly from the home. We therefore see Aveanna as a natural “partner of choice” for payers as the industry moves towards value-based care arrangements. We see this transition as a way to improve our future revenue and profitability as we provide value to our partners and we share in savings we can generate for the healthcare system over the long term while also delivering improved patient outcomes.

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Expand Private Duty Services Presence Through Acquisitions

 

We are the logical consolidator in a highly fragmented private duty services industry given our strong market position, leading brand, capitalization and integration capabilities. We maintain discipline in our approach to valuation and have consistently realized our deal-related growth and operational objectives. We have historically targeted two types of acquisitions: tuck-in and expansion. Our tuck-in acquisitions are smaller in scale, highly synergistic and are meant to drive further density in existing markets, with integration time generally measured in weeks. Our expansion targets are larger in scale and are meant to diversify our geographic footprint while gaining immediate scale and density in new markets, with integration time of one to two months.

 

Cross-Sell Enteral Services to Our PDN and Home Care Patient Base

 

We believe that Aveanna’s unique ability to bundle PDN and enteral nutrition services to our patients is both a significant differentiator for our customers as well as a continued growth opportunity. In particular, we believe that the bundling of these services provides families with not only a more convenient “one stop shop” but also a more responsive, tailored service experience due to the ability of Aveanna nurses to manage patients’ enteral shipments from the home. Today, we believe the majority of our PDN patients also receive enteral therapy, but the vast majority of these patients are served by other third-party enteral services providers, creating significant future cross-selling upside for our enteral business to continue to penetrate our PDN patient base.

 

Reinvest in Our Platform to Optimize Performance

 

We believe ongoing investment in our platform drives greater efficiency across our business, generating a virtuous cycle that allows us to continue growing. We plan to continually invest in improving our people, technology and processes to further drive volumes, leverage our corporate infrastructure and drive higher margins over time.

 

Our Reimbursement Sources

 

We have a highly diverse range of payers that reimburse us. Our payer diversity is due to both our geographic diversity as well as the variety of services we provide, many of which are reimbursed by different payers and have different payment models. Our reimbursement sources are comprised of more than 1,750 distinct payers that include Medicaid managed care organizations (“MCOs”), state-based Medicaid programs, Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, commercial insurance plans and other governmental payers across 33 states. Each contract we have with our payers is unique and specific to that payer, creating additional diversification benefits.

 

The majority of the Company’s PDN patients are covered by either Medicaid fee-for service (“FFS”) or Medicaid MCOs. State legislatures or responsible state agencies determine Medicaid FFS reimbursement rates for PDN services. In states where traditional FFS Medicaid is the primary payer source for PDN services, there is no rate negotiation; providers simply must accept the rate offered by the state Medicaid system or choose not to accept Medicaid patients and/or be reimbursed by the state Medicaid system. In states that outsource some or all of the Medicaid administration to managed care, MCOs receive a per-member-per-month capitation payment from the state and then contract for reimbursement rates with each provider of services within the state. Contracts between MCOs and PDN providers generally express reimbursement rates as a percentage of the state’s FFS rate and those rates are negotiated between the MCO and the provider, with the rates largely based on state guidance and typically within a range of the applicable Medicaid rate.

 

The Company views contract negotiations – including rates, billing, and collections – holistically. When determining whether to enter into or continue a contract with an MCO or commercial payer, the Company considers whether the rate and other contract terms offered are generally acceptable based on commercial billing and collection practices and also allow the Company to appropriately attract and retain caregivers at a market rate. Though the reimbursement rate is important, other contract terms are also important to the Company, including timeliness of payment by the payer, the appeals process for challenging denied claims, and the claims format and submission process. These “non-rate” terms are typically equally as important to the Company as the base reimbursement rate.

 

Changes to our reimbursement rates tend to mirror wage inflation, supporting historically stable gross margins. The majority of our caregivers earn well above minimum wage and are not impacted by minimum wage increases.

 

Private Duty Services Reimbursement

 

The primary payers for our private duty services are state-based Medicaid programs and MCOs. Although traditional Medicaid eligibility is often determined by income or assets, private duty services patients typically qualify for Medicaid regardless of their family’s income

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because of their medical conditions. A federal law established in 1967, a component of which covers Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (“EPSDT”), requires that state Medicaid programs and Medicaid MCOs cover medically necessary services for children under 21. Many of our private duty services, including PDN, personal care services and physical, occupational and speech therapy, are all explicitly included under the EPSDT benefit. In addition to the federal mandate for coverage of these services, we believe our reimbursement is significantly more stable than other government reimbursed services because private duty nursing patients (many of whom are children with complex medical diagnosis) represent a medically fragile population supported by strong, active advocacy groups, and therefore funding for our services typically receives broad bi-partisan support in state legislatures and Congress. Moreover, state spending on private duty nursing is a small portion of total state Medicaid expenditures, and the home is widely recognized by payers as the lower cost alternative to inpatient care settings. As a result, funding for our services is unlikely to be targeted as a source of savings for states seeking to alleviate budget pressure.

 

Medicaid policy is determined at a state level across each of the states in which we offer these services, providing stability as compared to Medicare reimbursement, which is determined at the federal level. Each state also has the ability to determine whether to administer benefits through a statewide fee-for-service program or through MCOs as noted above, which provide the Company additional payer diversity. The trend across many states has been to slowly transition children with complex medical conditions from traditional FFS to MCOs for many of the private duty services that we provide. Today, the majority of states in which we provide PDS have already transitioned to MCOs. Changes in utilization and reimbursement from the shift to managed care have historically been minimal, with reimbursement for MCO and state Medicaid programs largely at parity. Furthermore, we believe that there is an opportunity for us to capture additional volume from the shift to managed care as MCOs prefer to partner with scale providers like Aveanna who deliver a broad range of services with consistently high-quality care and can demonstrate appropriate cost savings for MCOs by avoiding unplanned hospitalizations.

 

Commercial insurance payers also comprise a small portion of our reimbursement for private duty services. However, commercial benefits coverage is typically limited by monetary spend or visit utilization caps, and when services are no longer covered (or are minimally covered), patients often are able to access services through Medicaid.

 

In our non-clinical business, a significant percentage of our caregivers earn at or near minimum wage. However, this has not historically been a source of risk to our margins, as our reimbursement rates generally have mechanisms that adjust commensurate with local or state changes in applicable minimum wage requirements.

 

Adult Home Health & Hospice Reimbursement

 

Our adult home health and hospice services are primarily reimbursed by Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. The Medicare home health benefit is available to patients who need care following discharge from a hospital, as well as patients who suffer from chronic conditions that require intermittent skilled care. While the services received do not need to be rehabilitative or of a finite duration, patients must have a skilled need and meet the definition of homebound as set by CMS. Patients who require full-time skilled nursing for an extended period of time generally do not qualify for Medicare home health benefits. As a condition of coverage under Medicare, beneficiaries must: (1) be homebound, meaning they are unable to leave their home without a considerable and taxing effort; (2) require intermittent skilled nursing, physical therapy or speech therapy services that are covered by Medicare; and (3) receive treatment under a plan of care that is established and periodically reviewed by a physician. Qualifying patients also may receive reimbursement for occupational therapy, medical social services, and home health aide services if these additional services are part of a plan of care prescribed by a physician.

 

We submit all home health Medicare claims through Medicare Administrative Contractors for the federal government. Medicare Administrative Contractors are private health care insurers that have been awarded a geographic jurisdiction to process Medicare Part A and Part B (A/B) medical claims or durable medical equipment claims for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries.

 

Final payments may reflect base payment adjustments for case-mix and geographic wage differences and 2% sequestration reduction for episodes that began after March 31, 2013. In addition, final adjustments may reflect one of four retroactive adjustments to ensure the adequacy and effectiveness of the total reimbursement: (a) an outlier payment if the patient’s care was unusually costly; (b) a low utilization adjustment if the number of visits was fewer than a threshold required to justify a full episodic payment; (c) a partial payment if the patient transferred to another provider or transferred from another provider before completing the episode; or (d) a Notice of Admission ("NOA") penalty if Medicare was not notified of a patient admission within five days of the start of care. Because such adjustments are determined upon the completion date of the episode, retroactive adjustments could impact our financial results. The base payment rate for Medicare home nursing was $2,010.69 per 30-day episode for the year ended December 30, 2023. The base payment rate does not take into consideration the 2% sequestration payment reduction mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

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Home health payment rates are updated annually by the home health market basket percentage as adjusted by Congress. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) establishes the home health market basket index, which measures inflation in the prices of an appropriate mix of goods and services included in home health services.

 

The Medicare hospice benefit covers a broad set of palliative services for beneficiaries who have a life expectancy of six months or less, as determined by their physicians. Medicare pays hospices a daily rate for each day a beneficiary is enrolled in the hospice benefit. Each day of hospice benefit, a level of care is assigned based on one of four case types: routine home care, continuous home care, inpatient respite care and general inpatient care. For Medicare’s 2023 fiscal year, the base per diem hospice payment rate for each service were: $211.34 for each of the first 60 days of routine home care and $167.00 for every day thereafter; $1,522.04 for continuous home care; $492.10 for inpatient respite care; and $1,110.76 for general inpatient care. These payments are reduced by 2% in 2023 and 4% starting in 2024 for hospices that do not report specified quality data to CMS.

 

Competition

 

Competitive Position

 

Private Duty Services (PDS)

 

The PDS services industry in which Aveanna operates is highly competitive and fragmented. PDS providers range from facility-based agencies, such as day health centers, live in facilities and government agencies, to independent homecare companies. Our PDS competitors may be not-for-profit organizations or for-profit organizations. There are relatively few barriers to entry in some of the home health services markets in which Aveanna operates. In addition to several multistate privately held companies, Aveanna’s primary competitors for its home health business are hospital-based home health agencies and local home health agencies, both for profit and not-for-profit. Aveanna competes with other home health providers on the basis of availability of caregivers, quality and expertise of services and the value of services. Aveanna believes that it has a favorable competitive position, attributable mainly to the consistently high quality and targeted services it has historically provided to its patients, as well as to its screening and evaluation procedures and training programs for clinical associates who provide direct care to patients.

 

Additionally, Aveanna’s competitors will likely strive to improve their service offerings and drive growth in non-government reimbursed programs. Aveanna also expects its competitors to develop new strategic relationships with providers, referral sources and payers, which could result in increased competition.

 

Medical Solutions (MS)

 

The medical solutions industry in which Aveanna operates is highly competitive, fragmented and market specific. Each local market has its own competitive blueprint, and there are few competitors with significant market share in all of the markets in which Aveanna operates. Aveanna competes with providers, privately and publicly held organizations, and not-for-profit organizations. There is continual competition from new entrants into Aveanna’s markets.

 

Aveanna’s Medicare MS business line could be impacted by the future Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (“DMEPOS”) competitive bid award that sets payment rates for DMEPOS items and services. The DMEPOS program provides Medicare reimbursement to suppliers of medical items, including, among such other things, enteral nutrition products and oxygen, for Medicare beneficiaries. The DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program was mandated by Congress through the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. The statute requires that Medicare replace the DMPEOS fee schedule payment methodology for selected DMEPOS items with a competitive bid process. Under the program, a competition among suppliers who operate in a particular competitive bidding area (“CBA”) is conducted. Suppliers are required to submit a bid for selected products. CMS announced that the next round of the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program will take place in 2024 after CMS implements changes regarding sustainable prices and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse. While Aveanna cannot predict the outcome of the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program on its MS business in the future, nor the Medicare payment rates that will be in effect in future years for the items subjected to competitive bidding, the program may materially adversely affect its financial condition and results of operations.

 

Home Health and Hospice Services (HHH)

 

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The home health market is highly competitive and fragmented. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (“MedPac”), an independent agency that advises Congress on various Medicare issues, there were approximately 11,474 Medicare-certified home health agencies in the United States in 2021. Generally, competition in home health service and hospice markets comes from local and regional providers. These providers include facility- and hospital-based providers, visiting nurse associations and nurse registries. Aveanna competes based on the availability of personnel, the quality of services, expertise of visiting staff, and, in certain instances, the price of our services.

 

Source and Availability of Personnel

 

To maximize the cost effectiveness and productivity of clinical associates, Aveanna utilizes customized processes and procedures that have been developed and refined over the years. We use personalized matching techniques to recruit and select applicants who fit individual patients’ needs through initial applicant profiles, personal interviews, skill evaluations and reference checks. Aveanna utilizes a best in class iCIMS recruiting and applicant tracking platform in the sourcing, hiring, and onboarding of new personnel.

 

We recruit our clinical associates through a variety of sources, such as advertising in local and national media, job fairs, solicitations on websites, direct mail and telephone solicitations and referrals obtained directly from clients and other caregivers. Clinical associates are paid per visit, per hour, per diem, or are employed on a full-time salaried basis. Currently, we are experiencing a shortage of licensed clinicians, which has impacted our industry in general. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business and Industry”. The home health and hospice industries have historically experienced shortages in qualified clinicians and management personnel. These shortages increase competition for qualified candidates across the entire healthcare industry and may increase our labor costs and reduce profitability.

 

Government Regulation

 

General

 

Aveanna’s business is subject to extensive federal, state and, in some instances, local regulations and standards which govern, among other things: Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE (the Department of Defense’s managed healthcare program for military personnel/retirees and their families) and other government-funded reimbursement programs; reporting requirements, certification and licensing standards and in some cases, Certificate of Need (“CON”) requirements for certain home health agencies and hospices.

 

Aveanna’s compliance with these regulations and standards may affect its participation in Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and other federal and state healthcare programs, as well as its ability to be reimbursed by private payers. Aveanna is also subject to a variety of federal and state regulations which prohibit fraud and abuse in the delivery of healthcare services. These regulations include, among other things: prohibitions against the offering or making of direct or indirect payments to actual or potential referral sources for obtaining or influencing patient referrals; rules generally prohibiting physicians from making referrals under Medicare and Medicaid for clinical services to a home health agency with which the physician or his or her immediate family member has certain types of financial relationships; laws against the filing of false claims; and laws against making payment or offering items of value to patients to induce their self-referral to the provider. These regulations also include licensure, certification or other qualifications for various Aveanna personnel who provide our services.

 

We believe that healthcare services will continue to be subject to intense regulation at the federal and state levels. We are unable to predict what additional government regulations, if any, affecting our business may be enacted in the future or how existing or future laws and regulations might be interpreted. If we, or any of our locations, fail to comply with applicable laws, it might have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Licensure, Certificates of Need and Permits of Approval

 

Home health and hospice agency providers operate under licenses granted by the health authorities of their respective states. Some states require healthcare providers (including home health and hospice agencies) to obtain prior state approval for the purchase, construction or expansion of healthcare locations, capital expenditures exceeding a prescribed amount, or changes in services. For those states that require a CON or permit of approval (“POA”), the provider must also complete a separate application process establishing a location and must receive required approvals.

 

Certain states, including a number in which we operate, carefully restrict new entrants into the market based on demographic and/or demonstrative usage of additional providers. These states limit the entry of new providers or services and the expansion of existing

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providers or services in their markets through a CON process, which is periodically evaluated and updated as required by applicable state law.

 

To the extent that we would need a CON, POA, or other similar approvals to expand our operations, our expansion could be adversely affected by the inability to obtain the necessary approvals, changes in the standards applicable to those approvals and possible delays and expenses associated with obtaining those approvals.

 

In every state where required, our home health and hospice agencies possess a license and/or CON or POA issued by the state health authority that determines the local service area for the home health and hospice agencies. State health authorities in certain states and the District of Columbia require a CON or its equivalent in order to establish and operate a home health agency or hospice care center. We operate home health agencies and/or provide hospice services in the following CON states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.

 

Medicare and Medicaid Participation: Licensing, Certification and Accreditation

 

All healthcare providers are subject to compliance with various federal, state and local statues and regulations in the U.S. and receive periodic inspection by state licensing agencies to review compliance with standards of administration, medical care, equipment and safety. We have dedicated internal resources and utilize external parties when necessary to monitor and ensure compliance with the various applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations.

 

Our home health and hospice agencies and caregivers must comply with regulations promulgated by HHS and CMS in order to participate in the Medicare program and receive Medicare payments. Sections 1861(o) and 1891 of the Social Security Act (“SSA”) and 42 CFR Part 484 establish the conditions that a home health agency must meet in order to participate in the Medicare program. Among other things, these regulations, applicable to home health agencies, known as “Conditions of Participation” (“COPs”), relate to the type of facility, its personnel and its standards of medical care, as well as its compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.

 

Section 1861(dd) of the SSA and 42 CFR Part 418 establish the conditions that a hospice must meet in order to participate in the Medicare program. These COPs set forth the health and safety requirements that a hospice must meet. They provide a framework for patient care, administrative and organizational processes, and quality improvement, as well as compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.

 

CMS has adopted alternative sanction enforcement options which allow CMS to (i) impose temporary management, direct plans of correction or direct training and (ii) impose payment suspensions and civil monetary penalties in each case on providers out of compliance with the COPs. In addition, CMS engages or has engaged a number of third-party audit contractors to conduct an additional documentation request (known as an “ADR,” a request for a provider’s medical record documentation to review specific claims), and other third-party firms, including Recovery Audit Contractors, Program Safeguard Contractors, Zone Program Integrity Contractors, Uniform Program Integrity Contractors, Targeted Probe and Educate, Supplemental Medical Review Contractors and Medicaid Integrity Contractors, to conduct extensive reviews of claims data and state and federal government healthcare program laws and regulations applicable to healthcare providers. These audits evaluate the appropriateness of billings submitted for payment. In addition to identifying overpayments, audit contractors can refer suspected violations of law to government enforcement authorities.

 

If we fail to comply with applicable laws and regulations, we could be subjected to liabilities, including criminal penalties, civil penalties (including the loss of our licenses to operate one or more of our businesses) and exclusion of a service or facility, or Aveanna as a whole, from participation in the Medicare, Medicaid and other federal and state healthcare programs. If any of our services or facilities were to lose its accreditation or otherwise lose its certification under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the service or facility, or Aveanna as a whole, may be unable to receive reimbursement from the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other payers. We believe our facilities and services are in substantial compliance with current applicable federal, state, local and independent review body regulations and standards. The requirements for licensure, certification and accreditation are subject to change and, in order to remain qualified, it may become necessary for us to make changes in our services, facilities, equipment and personnel in the future, which could have a material adverse impact on operations.

 

Accreditations

 

The Community Health Accreditation Program (the “CHAP”) and Accreditation Commission for Health Care (the “ACHC”) are nationwide commissions that establish standards relating to the physical plant, administration, quality of patient care and operation of medical staffs of healthcare organizations. Currently, CHAP and ACHC accreditation of home health, home care, hospice and our MS

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division is voluntary. However, some managed care organizations use CHAP and ACHC accreditation as a credentialing standard for regional and state contracts. Aveanna has renewed its three year contract with CHAP and ACHC and has had a corporate survey. All locations are accredited and will undergo surveys over the next three years. As we acquire companies, we apply for accreditation 12 to 18 months after completing the acquisition.

 

Federal and State Anti-Fraud and Anti-Kickback Laws

 

As a provider under the Medicare and Medicaid systems, we are subject to various federal anti-fraud and abuse laws, including, without limitation, the federal healthcare programs’ anti-kickback statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b (the “Anti-Kickback Statute”). Affected government healthcare programs include any healthcare plans or programs that are funded by the United States government (other than certain federal employee health insurance benefits/programs), including certain state healthcare programs that receive federal funds, such as Medicaid. We are also subject to various state anti-fraud and kickback laws which govern both government program and private payer activity.

 

Subject to certain exceptions, these laws prohibit any offer, payment, solicitation or receipt of any form of remuneration to induce or reward the referral of business payable under a government healthcare program or in return for the purchase, lease, order, arranging for, or recommendation of items or services covered under a government healthcare program. A related law forbids the offer or transfer of anything of value, including certain waivers of co-payment obligations and deductible amounts, to a beneficiary of Medicare or Medicaid that is likely to influence the beneficiary’s selection of healthcare providers, again, subject to certain exceptions. Violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute can result in imprisonment, the imposition of penalties topping $100,000, plus three times the amount of the improper remuneration and potentially, exclusion from furnishing services under any government healthcare program. In addition, the states in which we operate generally have laws, similar to the various federal anti-fraud and abuse laws, that prohibit certain direct or indirect payment or fee-splitting arrangements between healthcare providers and/or other persons and entities where such arrangements are designed or used to obtain or induce the referral of patients from a particular person or provider.

 

We monitor all aspects of our business and have developed a comprehensive ethics and compliance program that is designed to monitor and address prevention of anti-fraud and kickback laws.

 

Stark Law

 

Federal law includes a provision commonly known as the “Stark Law.” This law prohibits a physician (defined to include a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, a doctor of dental surgery or dental medicine, a doctor of podiatric medicine, a doctor of optometry, or a chiropractor) from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to certain types of entities with which the physician or any of the physician’s immediate family members have a financial relationship, unless an exception to the law’s prohibition is met. Subject to adherence to their respective criteria requirements, the self-referral prohibition contains a number of exceptions, including exceptions covering employment or independent contractor arrangements, space and equipment leases, and recruitment agreements.

 

As of December 2023, sanctions within Stark Law include significant civil penalties including over $29,000 for each violation, over $199,000 for schemes to circumvent the Stark Law restrictions and up to $10,000 for each day an entity fails to report required information and exclusion from the federal healthcare programs. Violations of the Stark Law may also result in payment denials, false claim recoveries, civil monetary penalties, and/or federal program exclusion.

 

Several of the states in which we conduct business have also enacted statutes similar in scope and purpose to the federal fraud and abuse laws and the Stark Law. These state laws may mirror the federal Stark Law or may be different in scope. The available guidance and enforcement activity associated with such state laws varies considerably.

 

We monitor all aspects of our business and have developed a comprehensive ethics and compliance program that is designed to meet or exceed applicable federal guidelines and industry standards. Nonetheless, because the law in this area is complex and constantly evolving, there can be no assurance that federal regulatory authorities will not determine that any of our arrangements with physicians violate the Stark Law.

 

Federal and State Privacy and Security Laws

 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) requires our covered entities to comply with standards for the exchange of health information within our company and with third parties, such as payers, business associates and patients. These include standards for common healthcare transactions, such as: claims information, plan eligibility, payment information and the use of

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electronic signatures; unique identifiers for providers, employers, health plans and individuals; and security, privacy, breach notification and enforcement. Under HIPAA, a “covered entity” includes healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses and health plans/insurers, and a “business associate” is a person or entity, other than a member of the workforce of a covered entity, who performs functions or activities on behalf of, or provides certain services to, a covered entity that involve access by the business associate to protected health information.

 

HIPAA transaction regulations establish form, format and data content requirements for most electronic healthcare transactions, such as healthcare claims that are submitted electronically. The HIPAA privacy regulations establish comprehensive requirements relating to the use and disclosure of protected health information. The HIPAA security regulations establish minimum standards for the protection of protected health information that is stored or transmitted electronically. The HIPAA breach notification regulations establish the applicable requirements for notifying individuals, the HHS, and the media in the event of a data breach affecting protected health information. Violations of the privacy, security and breach notification regulations are punishable by civil and criminal penalties.

 

The American Recovery and Economic Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) increased the amount of civil monetary penalties that can be imposed for violations of HIPAA, and the amounts are updated annually for inflation. For 2023, penalties for HIPAA violations can range from $137 to $2.067 million per violation with a maximum fine of $2.067 million for identical violations during a calendar year. ARRA also authorized State Attorneys General to bring civil enforcement actions under HIPAA, and attorney generals are actively engaged in enforcement. These penalties could be in addition to other penalties assessed by a state for a breach which would be considered reportable under the state’s data breach notification laws.

 

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the “HITECH Act”) was enacted in conjunction with ARRA. Among other things, the HITECH Act makes business associates of covered entities directly liable for compliance with certain HIPAA requirements, strengthens the limitations on the use and disclosure of protected health information without individual authorizations, and adopts the additional HITECH Act enhancements, including enforcement of noncompliance with HIPAA due to willful neglect. The changes to HIPAA enacted as part of ARRA reflect a Congressional intent that HIPAA’s privacy and security provisions be more strictly enforced. These changes have stimulated increased enforcement activity and enhanced the potential that healthcare providers will be subject to financial penalties for violations of HIPAA. In addition, the Secretary of HHS is required to perform periodic audits to ensure covered entities (and their business associates, as that term is defined under HIPAA) comply with the applicable HIPAA requirements, increasing the likelihood that a HIPAA violation will result in an enforcement action.

 

Health care providers, including Home Health Agencies ("HHAs") and hospices, are also subject to a growing number of requirements intended to promote the interoperability and exchange of patient health information. On April 5, 2021, for example, health care providers and certain other entities became subject to information blocking restrictions pursuant to the 21st Century Cures Act that prohibit practices that may interfere with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information, except as required by law or specified by HHS as a reasonable and necessary activity. Violations may result in penalties of up to $1.0 million per violation and/or other disincentives.

 

In addition to the federal HIPAA regulations, most states also have laws that regulate the collection, storage, use, retention, security, disclosure, transfer and other processing of health information and other confidential, sensitive and personal data. Certain of these laws grant individual rights with respect to their information, and we may be required to expend significant resources to comply with these laws. For example, various states, such as California and Massachusetts, have implemented privacy laws and regulations, such as the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, that impose restrictive requirements regulating the use and disclosure of personally identifiable information, including protected health information (“PHI”). These laws in many cases are more restrictive than, and may not be preempted by, the HIPAA rules and may be subject to varying interpretations by courts and government agencies.

 

Further, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted data breach notification laws that impose, in varying degrees, an obligation to notify affected persons and/or state regulators in the event of a data breach or compromise, including when their personal information has or may have been accessed by an unauthorized person. Some state breach notification laws may also impose physical and electronic security requirements regarding the safeguarding of personal information, such as social security numbers and bank and credit card account numbers. Moreover, states have been frequently amending existing laws, requiring attention to changing regulatory requirements. Violation of state privacy, security, and breach notification laws can trigger significant monetary penalties. In addition, certain states’ privacy, security, and data breach laws, including, for example, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “CCPA”), include a private right of action that may expose us to private litigation regarding our privacy practices and significant damages awards or settlements in civil litigation. Complying with these various laws, rules, regulations and standards, and with any new laws or regulations changes to existing laws, could cause us to incur substantial costs that are likely to increase over time, require us to

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change our business practices in a manner adverse to our business, divert resources from other initiatives and projects, and restrict the way products and services involving data are offered.

 

The False Claims Act

 

The federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729, et seq., (“FCA”) prohibits false claims or requests for payment, for which payment may be made by a federal government program, including for healthcare services. Under the FCA, the federal government may penalize any person who knowingly submits, or participates in submitting, claims for payment to the federal government which are false or fraudulent, or which contain false information. Any person who knowingly makes or uses a false record or statement to avoid paying the federal government, or knowingly conceals or avoids an obligation to pay money to the federal government, may also be subject to fines under the FCA. Under the FCA, the term “person” means an individual, company or corporation.

 

The federal government has used the FCA to cover Medicare, Medicaid and other governmental program fraud in areas such as violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute or the Stark Laws, coding errors, billing for services not provided and submitting false cost reports. The FCA has also been used to bring suit against people or entities that bill services at a higher reimbursement rate than is allowed and that bill for care that is not medically necessary. In addition to government enforcement, the FCA authorizes private citizens to bring qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuits, greatly extending the number of actions under the FCA. The per-claim penalty range is between $13,946 and $27,894 (last updated 2024).

 

The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (“FERA”) amended the FCA with the intent of enhancing the powers of government enforcement authorities and whistleblowers to bring FCA cases. In particular, FERA attempts to clarify that liability may be established not only for false claims submitted directly to the government, but also for claims submitted to government contractors and grantees. FERA also seeks to clarify that liability exists for attempts to avoid repayment of overpayments, including improper retention of federal funds. FERA also included amendments to FCA procedures, expanding the government’s ability to use the Civil Investigative Demand process to investigate defendants, and permitting government complaints in intervention to relate back to the filing of the whistleblower’s original complaint. FERA has increased both the volume and liability exposure of FCA cases brought against healthcare providers.

 

In the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare Education and Reconciliation Act (collectively, the “ACA”), Congress enacted requirements related to identifying and returning overpayments made under Medicare and Medicaid. CMS finalized regulations regarding this so-called “60-day rule,” which requires providers to report and return Medicare and Medicaid overpayments within 60 days of identifying the same. A provider who retains identified overpayments beyond 60 days may be liable under the FCA. “Identification” occurs when a person “has, or should have through the exercise of reasonable diligence,” identified and quantified the amount of an overpayment. The final rule also established a six-year lookback period, meaning overpayments must be reported and returned if a person identifies the overpayment within six years of the date the overpayment was received. A provider must report and return overpayments even if the provider did not cause the overpayment.

 

In addition to the FCA, the federal government may use several criminal statutes to prosecute the submission of false or fraudulent claims for payment to the federal government. Many states have false claims laws similar to the FCA that impose liability for the types of acts prohibited by the FCA. As part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (the “DRA”), Congress provided states an incentive to adopt state false claims acts consistent with the federal FCA. Additionally, the DRA required providers who receive $5 million or more annually from Medicaid to include information on federal and state false claims acts, whistleblower protections and the providers’ own policies on detecting and preventing fraud in their written employee policies.

 

Governmental Review, Audits and Investigations

 

The HHS, CMS, Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and other federal and state agencies continue to impose intensive enforcement policies and conduct random and directed audits, reviews, and investigations designed to ensure compliance with applicable healthcare program participation and payment laws and regulations. As a result, we are routinely the subject of such audits, reviews, and investigations.

 

The DOJ, CMS or other federal and state enforcement and regulatory agencies may conduct additional investigations related to the Company’s businesses in the future. These audits and investigations could potentially cause delays in collections, recoupments, retroactive adjustment to amounts previously paid from governmental payers. We cannot predict the ultimate outcome of any regulatory and other governmental audits and investigations. While such audits and investigations are the subject of administrative appeals, the appeals process, even if successful, may take several years to resolve. The Company’s costs to respond to and defend any such audits, reviews and investigations could be significant and are likely to increase in the current enforcement environment.

 

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FDA Regulation

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) regulates medical device user facilities, which include home health providers. FDA regulations require user facilities to report patient deaths and serious injuries to the FDA and/or the manufacturer of a device used by the facility if the device may have caused or contributed to the death or serious injury of any patient. FDA regulations also require user facilities to maintain files related to adverse events and to establish and implement appropriate procedures to ensure compliance with the above reporting and recordkeeping requirements. User facilities are subject to FDA inspection, and noncompliance with applicable requirements may result in warning letters or sanctions including civil monetary penalties, injunction, product seizure, criminal fines and/or imprisonment.

 

The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act

 

In October 2014, the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (the “IMPACT Act”) was signed into law requiring the reporting of standardized patient assessment data for quality improvement, payment and discharge planning purposes across the spectrum of post-acute care providers (“PACs”), including skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. The IMPACT Act required PACs to begin reporting: (1) standardized patient assessment data at admission and discharge by October 1, 2018 for PACs, including skilled nursing facilities and by January 1, 2019 for home health agencies; (2) new quality measures, including functional status, skin integrity, medication reconciliation, incidence of major falls and patient preference regarding treatment and discharge at various intervals between October 1, 2016 and January 1, 2019; and (3) resource use measures, including Medicare spending per beneficiary, discharge to community and hospitalization rates of potentially preventable readmissions by January 1, 2016 for PACs, including skilled nursing facilities and by October 1, 2017 for home health agencies. Failure to report such data when required would subject a facility to a 2.0% reduction in market basket prices then in effect.

 

The IMPACT Act further requires HHS and MedPAC, a commission chartered by Congress to advise it on Medicare payment issues, to study alternative PAC payment models, including payment based upon individual patient characteristics and not care setting, with corresponding Congressional reports required based on such analysis. The IMPACT Act also included provisions impacting Medicare-certified hospices, including: (1) increasing survey frequency for Medicare-certified hospices to once every 36 months; (2) imposing a medical review process for facilities with a high percentage of stays in excess of 180 days; and (3) updating the annual aggregate Medicare payment cap.

 

Pre-Claim Review Demonstration for Home Health Services

 

On June 8, 2016, CMS announced the implementation of a three-year Medicare pre-claim review (“PCR”) demonstration for home health services provided to beneficiaries in the states of Illinois, Florida, Texas, Michigan and Massachusetts. The PCR is a process through which a request for provisional affirmation of coverage is submitted for review before a final claim is submitted for payment. On April 1, 2017, CMS paused the PCR Demonstration for home health services while CMS considered a number of changes. CMS revised the demonstration to incorporate more flexibility and choices for providers, as well as risk-based changes to reward providers who show compliance with Medicare home health policies.

 

On May 31, 2018, CMS issued a notice indicating its intention to re-launch a home health agency PCR demonstration project. Now called the Review Choice Demonstration for Home Health Services (“RCD”), the revised demonstration gave home health agencies in the demonstration states 3 options: PCR of all claims, post-payment review of all claims, or minimal post-payment review with a 25% payment reduction for all home health services. Under the PCR and post-payment review options, provider claims are reviewed for every episode of care until the appropriate claim approval rate (90% based on a minimum of 10 pre-claim requests or claims submitted) is reached. Further, once the appropriate claim approval rate is reached, a provider can elect to opt-out of claim reviews except for a spot check of 5% of its claims to ensure continued compliance. The demonstration initially applies to home health agency providers in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas, with the option to expand after 5 years to other states in the Medicare Administrative Contractor Jurisdiction M (Palmetto). On October 21, 2019, CMS announced that it would reschedule the next phase of its RCD to allow agencies time to transition to the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (“PDGM”). CMS announced that RCD implementation would resume on March 2, 2020 in Texas, followed by demonstrations in North Carolina and Florida on May 4, 2020. The choice selection period began on January 15, 2020 and ended on February 13, 2020 for home health agencies located in Texas. Following the close of the choice selection period, the demonstration was expected to begin in Texas on March 2, 2020, and all periods of care starting on or after this date would be subject to the requirements of the choice selected. However, on March 30, 2020, CMS announced a pause of certain claims processing requirements for the RCD in Illinois, Ohio, and Texas until the Public Health Emergency (“PHE”) for the COVID-19 pandemic ended. In addition, CMS announced that the demonstration would not begin in North Carolina and Florida on May 4, 2020, as previously scheduled. On July 7, 2020, CMS announced that CMS would discontinue exercising enforcement discretion RCD,

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beginning on August 3, 2020, regardless of the status of the PHE. CMS announced that the initial choice selection period would begin in North Carolina and Florida on August 3, 2020 and end on August 17, 2020, and that the choice selection period for Ohio’s second review cycle would also begin August 3, 2020 and end on August 17, 2020. On December 22, 2020, CMS delayed the initial choice selection period for Florida and North Carolina and announced that selection period would begin in Florida and North Carolina on March 31, 2021. CMS further delayed the initial choice selection period for Florida and North Carolina and began full implementation of RCD on September 1, 2021 for Florida and North Carolina. On April 1, 2022, CMS implemented the 25% payment reduction in North Carolina and Florida where applicable for providers who selected minimal post-payment review. Beginning December 1, 2023, CMS expanded the implementation of RCD to home health agencies operating in Oklahoma. CMS has the ability to expand RCD to additional states upon evidence of fraud, waste, or abuse in those states. The expansion of RCD to additional states where we operate could adversely affect our business.

 

Home Health Value-Based Purchasing

 

On January 1, 2016, CMS implemented the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (“HHVBP”) model. The HHVBP model was designed to give Medicare-certified home health agencies incentives or penalties, through payment bonuses, to give higher quality and more efficient care. HHVBP was rolled out to nine pilot states: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, six of which Aveanna currently has home health operations. Payment adjustments were calculated based on performance in 20 measures which include current Quality of Patient Care and Patient Satisfaction star measures, as well as measures based on submission of data to a CMS web portal. Under the demonstration, home health agencies with higher performance received bonuses, while those with lower scores received lower payments relative to current levels. Home health agency performance was evaluated against separate improvement and attainment scores, with payment tied to the higher of these two scores. CMS used 2015 as the baseline year for performance, with 2016 as the first year for performance measurement. The first payment adjustment began January 1, 2018, based on 2016 performance data. Between 2018 and 2022, the payment adjustment varies (upward or downward) from 3% to 8%.

 

CMS ended the HHVBP demonstration on December 31, 2021. Starting on January 1, 2023, the Expanded HHVBP model became effective in all 50 states. Under this new model, CMS will use 2022 for all home health agencies that were certified prior to January 1, 2022 as the baseline year for performance, with 2023 as the first year for performance measurement. The first payment adjustment will begin January 1, 2025, based on 2023 performance data. Bonuses and penalties began in 2023 with the maximum of plus or minus 5%.

 

Home Health Payment Reform

 

On February 9, 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (“BBA of 2018”), which funded government operations, set two-year government spending limits and enacted a variety of healthcare related policies. Specific to home health, the BBA of 2018 provided for a targeted extension of the home health rural add-on payment, a reduction of the 2020 market basket update, modification of eligibility documentation requirements and reform to the Home Health Prospective Payment Systems (“HHPPS”). The HHPPS reform included the following parameters: for home health units of service beginning on January 1, 2020, a 30-day payment system applied; the transition to the 30-day payment system was to be budget neutral; and CMS was to conduct at least one Technical Expert Panel during 2018, prior to any notice and comment rulemaking process, related to the design of any new case-mix adjustment model.

 

The final home health agency regulations introduced by CMS (CMS-1689-FC) updated the Medicare HHPPS and finalized the implementation of an alternative case-mix adjustment methodology, PDGM, that became effective on January 1, 2020. The PDGM adjusted payments to home health agencies providing home health services under Medicare Fee-For-Service based on patient characteristics for 30-day periods of care and also eliminated the use of therapy visits in the determination of payments. While the changes were to be implemented in a budget neutral manner to the industry, the ultimate impact varied by provider based on factors including patient mix and admission source. Additionally, CMS made assumptions about behavioral changes which were finalized in the 2020 Final Rule released on October 31, 2019 (CMS-1711-FC). CMS assumed that home health agencies will change their documentation and coding practices and will put the highest paying diagnosis code as the principal diagnosis code in order to have a 30-day period be placed into a higher-paying clinical group. Initially, CMS proposed an 8.1% reduction in the base payment rate for a 30-day period of care to ensure overall budget neutrality in Medicare home health spending in 2020. In the 2021 Final Rule, CMS increased the base payment by 1.9%. Notably, CMS is required by the law to analyze data for CYs 2020-2026, retrospectively, to determine the impact of the difference between assumed and actual behavior changes and to make any such payment changes as are necessary to offset or supplement the adjustments based on anticipated behavior. Additionally, in an effort to eliminate fraud risks, CMS phased out requests for anticipated payments ("RAPs") for 2020 and fully eliminated RAPs for calendar year 2021. Since January 1, 2022, home health providers were required to submit a Notice of Admission (“NOA”) within five calendar days of the first 30-day period.

 

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Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Medicare Administrative Contractor

 

Some of our products are classified as Durable Medical Equipment (“DME”) under Medicare regulations. In order to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries only receive medically necessary and appropriate items and services, the Medicare program has adopted a number of documentation requirements. For example, certain provisions under CMS guidance manuals, local coverage determinations, and the Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractor (“DME MAC”) Supplier Manuals provide that clinical information from the “patient’s medical record” is required to justify the initial and ongoing medical necessity for the provision of DME. Some DME MACs, CMS staff and other government contractors have recently taken the position, among other things, that the “patient’s medical record” refers not to documentation maintained by the DME supplier but instead to documentation maintained by the patient’s physician, healthcare facility or other clinician, and that clinical information created by the DME supplier’s personnel and confirmed by the patient’s physician is not sufficient to establish medical necessity. If treating physicians do not adequately document, among other things, their diagnoses and plans of care, the risks that Aveanna will be subject to audits and payment denials are likely to increase. Moreover, auditors’ interpretations of these policies are inconsistent and subject to individual interpretation, leading to significant increases in individual supplier and industry-wide perceived error rates. High error rates could lead to further audit activity and regulatory burdens and could result in Aveanna making significant refunds and other payments to Medicare and other government programs. Accordingly, Aveanna’s future revenues and cash flows from government healthcare programs may be reduced. Private payers also may conduct audits and may take legal action to recover alleged overpayments. Our MS segment could be adversely affected in some of the markets in which it operates if the auditing payer alleges substantial overpayments were made to Aveanna due to coding errors or lack of documentation to support medical necessity determinations.

 

Federal and state budgetary and other cost-containment pressures will continue to impact the DME industry. We cannot predict whether new federal and state budgetary proposals will be adopted or the effect, if any, such proposals would have on its financial condition and results of operations.

 

Quality Improvement and Regulatory Services

 

Aveanna performs quality improvement and regulatory services. The Company has set forth a quality platform that reviews:

Performance improvement audits;
CHAP standards;
ACHC standards;
State and regulatory surveys;
Publicly reported quality data; and
Patient perception of care.

As part of our ongoing quality control, internal auditing, and monitoring programs, we conduct internal clinical, quality, and compliance audits at our branch locations. If a location does not achieve a satisfactory rating, we require that it prepare and implement a plan of correction. We then follow-up to verify that all deficiencies identified in the initial audit and survey have been corrected.

 

We constantly expand and refine our continuous quality improvement programs. Specific written policies, procedures, training, and educational materials and programs, as well as auditing and monitoring activities, have been prepared and implemented to address the functional and operational aspects of our business. Our programs also address specific areas identified for improvement through regulatory interpretation and enforcement activities. We believe our consistent focus on continuous quality improvement programs provide us with a competitive advantage in the markets we serve.

 

Our Training and Compliance Programs

 

The Company has established and continually maintains a comprehensive compliance program that is designed to help our employees meet or exceed applicable standards established by federal and state laws and regulations and industry practice. Our goal is to foster and maintain the highest standards of compliance, ethics, integrity, and professionalism in every aspect of our business dealings, and we utilize our compliance program to assist our employees toward achieving that goal.

 

The purpose of our compliance and ethics program is to promote and foster compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements, the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government healthcare programs, industry standards, our Code of Conduct, and our other policies and procedures that support and enhance overall compliance within our Company. Our

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compliance program focuses on regulations related to the federal False Claims Act, the Stark Law, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, fraud, waste and abuse, privacy, billing, and overall adherence to healthcare regulations.

 

Our compliance program includes, among other things:

 

drafting and revising the Company’s policies and procedures related to compliance and ethics issues;
reviewing, revising, and disseminating our Code of Conduct;
evaluating compliance with our policies and procedures, Code of Conduct and legal and regulatory requirements related to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government healthcare programs, laws and regulations;
providing training and education to all of our employees, officers, directors, contractors and other representatives and agents on our compliance program and potential compliance risks. These trainings include new-hire compliance training for all new employees, annual compliance training for all employees, sales compliance training to all members of our sales team, billing compliance training to all members of our billing and revenue cycle team and other job-specific and role-based compliance training of certain employees;
monthly verification that current and potential employees are not classified as an excluded individual who is prohibited from participation in any federal healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid;
implementing an annual compliance auditing and monitoring work plan and performing and following up on various risk-based auditing and monitoring activities, including both clinical and non-clinical auditing and monitoring activities at the corporate level and at the local agency/facility level;
monitoring, responding to and overseeing the resolution of compliance issues and concerns raised through the various means of reporting, including our confidential and anonymous compliance hotline; and
taking appropriate corrective and disciplinary action when noncompliant or improper conduct is identified.

All employees are required to report incidents, issues or other concerns that they believe in good faith may be in violation of our Code of Conduct, our policies and procedures, applicable legal and regulatory requirements or the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government healthcare programs. We maintain a strong stance against intimidation of or retaliation against any employee that submits in good faith a report of a concern to our compliance department.

 

We believe we have best-in-class nurse training and compliance capabilities that differentiate our recruiting and retention of nurses as well as establish long-lasting relationships with referral sources and payers. Our robust compliance program is led by a seasoned and experienced Chief Compliance Officer who seeks to hold the Company’s employees to a consistent, high standard, with required compliance training and annual audits. Emblematic of our commitment to compliance, all members of our management team and Board of Directors are required to complete the same annual training as our employees. This is designed to ensure that the culture of compliance reaches the highest levels of management within our Company.

 

Our employees have been provided with a number of methods by which they can report concerns to the Company’s compliance department, including a confidential and anonymous compliance hotline. Our branch and nurse managers are held personally accountable for our compliance culture, and their incentive compensation is tied to a balanced scorecard that includes clinical quality as a key performance indicator. In addition, we continue to make significant investments in training for nurses and have increased the emphasis on clinical, training and compliance since 2017. The Company has developed a national nurse training program that is widely sought after as an educational investment by nurses. Our investments in compliance and training have resulted in a very strong track record of patient safety, with an average of less than one patient safety-related injury per 2 million hours of service provided from 2018 to date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We also enjoy strong satisfaction scores in patient surveys and benefit from a strong reputation with referral sources.

 

Human Capital

 

As of December 30, 2023, we employed approximately 3,500 full-time support staff personnel with the remainder of our 30,000 employees employed on a part-time, temporary, per-diem or full-time basis. All of our employees, with the exception of certain executives with employment agreements, work with us on an at-will basis and none are union members or subject to any collective bargaining agreements. Our employee engagement survey data, together with other key indicators that we monitor, demonstrate that we enjoy good relationships with our employees. Our human capital resources objectives center around employee engagement, fostering our culture, and leadership development. We maintain and grow our team utilizing proven practices and technologies that help us identify, hire, incentivize and retain our existing employees. We also employ an equity incentive plan to attract, retain, motivate, and

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reward certain employees and directors through the issuance of equity-based incentive compensation awards, provide for employee participation in our employee stock purchase plan on a discounted basis, as well as cash-based performance bonuses.

 

Talent Acquisition, Retention and Development

 

Our strategy is to lead the market by attracting and hiring caregivers with a candidate-focused and technology driven recruiting experience. Our nationwide recruiting model is customized to localized workforces and seeks to attract the best clinicians with our powerful mission, unique opportunities to provide one-on-one care in the home with flexible schedules, and 24/7 clinical support and electronic charting. We leverage extensive recruiting and employee data to identify, attract, and engage a skilled and diverse talent pool to assist us in the management, development and retention of our valuable workforce.

 

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (“DEI”) Vision

 

Aveanna is a company where all employees of various cultures, walks of life, and abilities are valued. Each employee has an equal opportunity for growth and success; thereby increasing organizational capacity to achieve our mission of revolutionizing the way home care is delivered - one patient at a time - while preserving and cultivating our culture of corporate and social responsibility.

 

Our DEI Mission

 

Our DEI mission is to attract and sustain a diverse and inclusive workforce by recruiting, hiring, developing, retaining and promoting high-performing individuals who work collaboratively with one another to achieve our vision as defined by our core values.

 

Our DEI Strategic Initiative

 

We understand that the most effective business strategies require vision and long-term commitment. The same is true of our long-term DEI Strategic Initiative. Our DEI Strategic Initiative recognizes and seeks to maximize the benefit of our clients, patients, employees and other stakeholders who are of diverse backgrounds, cultures, socioeconomic levels, customs, abilities, and more.

 

Our DEI Strategic Initiative focuses on:

 

Developing sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion programs;
Developing and retaining diverse talent;
Promoting the use of diverse business at the local office level;
Recruiting diverse talent; and
Enhancing and creating pipeline opportunities.

Each of these goals is supported by strategies and action steps designed to bring awareness to unconscious bias and drive diversity and inclusion through an intersectional lens. We have successfully incorporated DEI initiatives into our policies and practices, education and training and leadership focus, including:

 

DEI Leadership Team. Our DEI Leadership Team is composed of diverse, cross-functional leaders, and members of our executive team, including our Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This team provides strategic oversight, support, guidance, sponsorship and thought-leadership in developing and deploying our DEI Strategic Initiative.

 

Annual DEI Leadership Summit. We annually convene senior department leaders for critical discussions about our DEI Strategic Initiative, accomplishment of goals, enterprise feedback and assessments, as well as focused discussions on activating the values of the organization.

 

DEI Committee. Our DEI Committee is composed of diverse members from our various business units who are passionate about helping us continue to develop a more inclusive workplace. The DEI Committee has been designed as a core group to propose ideas and develop programming to support a sense of belonging and community in collaboration with our DEI Leadership Team and through our growing Employee Resource Groups (“ERGs”).

 

Annual Enterprise-Wide Inclusion Sensitivity Training. We provide our employees programming, education and training on diversity, inclusion, and belonging. This training focuses on intentional inclusion, intersectionality and personal awareness to further support an

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inclusive, equitable workforce. Our goal for these training programs is to ensure all employees and stakeholders feel valued and supported.

 

Cultural Assessment/Employee Engagement Surveys. We utilize a robust cultural assessment (employee engagement) tool to track our progress in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace over time and identify new opportunities in this space.

 

Employee Resource Groups. In an effort to foster an inclusive workplace and thereby increase employee engagement and cultivate a sense of connection and belonging, we currently have seven ERGs:

 

Pride Employee Resource Group;
Black Employee Resource Group;
Disability, Chronic Illness and Mental Health Employee Resource Group;
Woman Employee Resource Group;
Latinx Employee Resource Group;
Asian American and Pacific Islanders Employee Resource Group; and
Veterans Employee Resource Group.

 

Pipeline Work. Through the work of our people services team and other collaborative partners, we are optimizing engagement, professional and business development with the advancement of existing diverse talent at both the corporate and provider levels. This effort promotes a focus on creating a pipeline within the industry of diverse talent by creating awareness of the benefits of building diverse teams and tools in support of this effort.

 

Supplier Diversity Program. We are working to create and share our desired goal of engaging diverse suppliers of goods and services at the local office level.

 

 

Available Information

 

Our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports, are made available, free of charge, on our investors page of our website at www.aveanna.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports have been filed with or furnished to the SEC.

Item 1A. Risk Factors.

 

You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as other information contained in this report, including the consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” The occurrence of any of the events discussed below could significantly and adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows.

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

 

Competition among home health, hospice and durable medical equipment companies is intense.

 

The home health and hospice services and durable medical equipment industries are highly competitive. We compete with a variety of other companies in providing home health and hospice services and durable medical equipment, some of which may have greater financial and other resources and may be more established in their respective communities. Competing companies may offer newer or different services from those offered by us and may thereby attract customers who are presently receiving our home health and hospice services and durable medical equipment. If we are unable to react competitively to new developments, our operating results may suffer. In many areas in which our home health, hospice and durable medical equipment programs are located, we compete with a large number of organizations, including:

 

community-based home health providers;
national, regional and local companies;
national, regional and local hospice agencies;

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hospital-based home health agencies; and
nursing homes.

Some of our current and potential competitors have or may obtain significantly greater marketing and financial resources than we have or may obtain. We also compete with a number of non-profit organizations that can finance acquisitions and capital expenditures on a tax-exempt basis or receive charitable contributions that are unavailable to us. We compete based on the availability of personnel, the quality of services, the expertise of staff, and, in certain instances, on the price of our services.

 

In home health and hospice markets that do not require a CON, POA, or similar approval, there are relatively few barriers to entry. Accordingly, other companies, including hospitals and other healthcare organizations that are not currently providing services, may expand their services to include home health and hospice services or similar services. If states with such existing laws remove such barriers, we could face increased competition in these states. We may encounter increased competition in the future that could negatively impact patient referrals to us, limit our ability to maintain or increase our market position and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

If any large national healthcare entities that do not currently directly compete with us move into the home health or hospice market, competition could significantly increase. Larger, national healthcare entities have significant financial resources and extensive technology infrastructure. In addition, companies that currently compete in certain of our services could begin competing with additional services through the acquisition of an existing company or de novo expansion into these services. Our competitors may also develop joint ventures with providers, referral sources and payers, which could result in increased competition.

 

Managed care organizations, such as health maintenance organizations (“HMOs”) and preferred provider organizations (“PPOs”), and other third-party payers continue to consolidate, which enhances their ability to influence the delivery of healthcare services. Consequently, the healthcare needs of patients in the United States are increasingly served by a smaller number of managed care organizations. These organizations generally enter into service agreements with a limited number of providers. Our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected if these organizations terminate us as a provider and/or engage our competitors as a preferred or exclusive provider. In addition, should private payers, including managed care payers, seek to negotiate discounted fee structures or the assumption by healthcare providers of all or a portion of the financial risk through prepaid capitation arrangements, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

 

If we are unable to maintain relationships with existing patient referral sources, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

 

Our success depends on referrals from physicians, hospitals and other sources in the communities we serve and on our ability to maintain good relationships with existing referral sources. Our referral sources are not contractually obligated to refer patients to us and may refer their patients to other providers. In addition, our relationships with referral sources are subject to compliance with federal and state healthcare laws, such as the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the federal Stark Law, and similar state laws. Our growth and profitability depend, in part, on our ability to establish and maintain close working relationships with these patient referral sources, comply with applicable laws with respect to such relationships, and to increase awareness and acceptance of the benefits of home health and hospice services by our referral sources and their patients. There can also be no assurance that other market participants will not attempt to steer patients to competing health services providers. Our loss of, or failure to maintain, existing relationships or our failure to develop new referral relationships could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected by national public health emergencies including a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, variants of the virus, or other public health emergencies.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted economic activity and conditions worldwide, including workforces, liquidity, capital markets, consumer behavior, supply chains and macroeconomic conditions. The surge in COVID-19 cases in 2021 attributable to the Delta and Omicron variants, as well as the effect of vaccine mandates, placed significant pressure on caregiver recruitment and retention. While the direct effects of the pandemic on our business have significantly lessened since the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 as a result of declining infection rates and the normalization of living with COVID-19 following the increase in accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments, there is no guarantee that we will be able to attract and retain qualified caregivers in quantities to meet existing demand for our services and return our organic patient volumes to pre-pandemic levels.

 

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The PHE associated with COVID-19 expired in May 2023. The extent to which a future COVID-19 outbreak could impact our business and operating results in the future depends on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be accurately predicted. The impacts of any future public health emergencies on our results of operations may include: decreased demand for our services; lower volumes of our services provided, including due to lack of availability of caregivers in the workforce; interruptions in the provision of our services, including due to the interruption of the operations of our referral sources; increased costs of services in order to attract and retain qualified caregivers; increased costs necessary to comply with federal, state and local mandates and other regulations associated with any public health emergency; civil monetary penalties from CMS if we are unable to comply with vaccination requirements; and a reduction in our liquidity position, which may limit our ability to service our indebtedness and our future ability to incur additional indebtedness or financing. All of these possibilities could in the future have a material and adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

The cost of healthcare is funded substantially by government and private insurance programs. If such funding is reduced or limited or no longer available, our business may be adversely impacted.

 

Third-party payers including Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance payers provide substantially all funding for our home health and hospice services, and we cannot control reimbursement rates. During the past several years, third-party healthcare payers in the adult home care and hospice space, such as federal and state governments, insurance companies and employers, have undertaken cost containment initiatives. As part of the efforts, such payers increasingly are demanding discounted fee structures or the assumption by healthcare providers of all or a portion of the financial risk relating to paying for care provided, often in exchange for exclusive or preferred participation in their benefit plans. We expect efforts to impose greater discounts and more stringent cost controls by government and other third-party payers to continue, thereby reducing the payments we receive for our services. For example, the Medicaid Integrity Program is increasing the scrutiny placed on Medicaid payments and could result in recoupments of alleged overpayments. CMS conducts similar audits on Medicare payments which may also result in recoupments of alleged overpayments. These payer audits are conducted by CMS contractors, many of whom are incentivized based upon the dollar value of said recoupments, specifically Recovery Audit Contractor (“RAC”) and Supplemental Medical Review Contractor (“SMRC”) audits, as well as the Unified Program Integrity Contractors (“UPIC”) program and the Zone Program Integrity Contractor (“UPIC”) program audits. While most audits are conducted on a post payment basis, including RAC, ZPIC, UPIC, and SMRC audits, CMS also performs Targeted Probe and Educate (“TPE”) audits on all home health and hospice providers to help reduce provider billing errors and educate providers on appropriate billing practices. These audits occasionally result in recoupment of Medicare reimbursement. Similarly, private third-party payers may be successful in negotiating reduced reimbursement schedules for our services. Fixed fee schedules, capitation payment arrangements, exclusion from participation in or inability to reach agreements with private insurance organizations or government funded programs, reduction or elimination of payments or an increase in the payments at a rate that is less than the increase in our costs, or other factors affecting payments for healthcare services over which we have no control could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition. Further, we cannot assure you that our services will be considered cost-effective by third-party payers, that reimbursement will continue to be available, or that changes to third-party payer reimbursement policies will not have a material adverse effect on our ability to sell our services on a profitable basis, if at all.

 

Reimbursement for the home health and hospice services that we provide is primarily through Medicare, Medicaid and managed care providers. Payments received from Medicare are subject to changes made through federal legislation and regulation. Payments received from Medicaid may vary from state to state. These payments are subject to statutory and regulatory changes, administrative rulings, interpretations and determinations concerning patient eligibility requirements, funding levels and the method of calculating payments or reimbursements. When such changes are implemented, we also must modify our internal billing processes and procedures accordingly, which can require significant time and expense. We cannot assure you that reimbursement payments under governmental payer programs, including supplemental insurance policies, will remain at levels comparable to present levels or will be sufficient to cover the costs allocable to patients eligible for reimbursement pursuant to these programs. These changes, including retroactive adjustments, if adopted in the future by CMS, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

Changes to Medicare rates or methods governing Medicare payments for our services could materially adversely affect our business.

 

We derive substantial revenue from Medicare for our adult home health and hospice services. Reductions in Medicare rates or changes in the way Medicare pays for services could cause our revenue for these services to decline, perhaps materially. Reductions in Medicare reimbursement could be caused by many factors, including:

administrative or legislative changes to the base rates under the applicable prospective payment systems;
the reduction or elimination of annual rate increases;

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the imposition or increase by Medicare of mechanisms shifting more responsibility for a portion of payment to beneficiaries, such as co-payments;
adjustments to the relative components of the wage index used in determining reimbursement rates;
changes to case mix or therapy thresholds; or
the reclassification of home health resource groups or long-term care diagnosis-related groups.

We receive payments from Medicare for our adult home health and hospice services based on the level of care provided to our patients. As a result, our profitability largely depends upon our ability to manage the cost of providing these services. We cannot be assured that reimbursement payments under governmental payer programs, including Medicare, will remain at comparable levels to the present or will be sufficient to cover the costs allocable for patient services. Any changes could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flow. Medicare currently provides for an annual adjustment of the various payment rates, such as the base episode rate for our home nursing services, based upon the increase or decrease of the medical care expenditure, which may be less than actual inflation. This adjustment could be eliminated or reduced in any given year.

 

Also, beginning on April 1, 2013, Medicare reimbursement was cut an additional 2% through sequestration as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2011. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (the “CARES Act”), the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and the Act to Prevent Across-the-Board Direct Spending Cuts suspended the 2% sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Relief Act of 2011 through December 31, 2021. In December 2021, Congress extended the suspension of the automatic 2% reduction through March 2022 and reduced the sequestration adjustment to 1% beginning on April 1, 2022 through June 30, 2022, with the full 2% reduction for sequestration resuming thereafter. Further, Medicare routinely reclassifies home health resource groups. As a result of those reclassifications, we could receive lower reimbursement rates depending on the case mix of the patients we service. If our cost of providing services increases by more than the annual Medicare price adjustment, or if these reclassifications result in lower reimbursement rates, our results of operations, net income and cash flows could be adversely impacted.

 

Additionally, CMS changed the HHPPS case-mix adjustment methodology through the use of a new PDGM for home health payments. This change was implemented on January 1, 2020, and also includes a change in the unit of payment from a 60-day payment period to a 30-day payment period and eliminates the use of therapy visits in the determination of payments. While the changes are intended to be implemented in a budget-neutral manner to the industry, the ultimate impact will vary by provider based on factors including patient mix and admission source. Additionally, in arriving at the calculation of a rate that is budget-neutral, CMS has made numerous assumptions about behavioral changes. The application of these assumptions could negatively impact our rates of reimbursement and have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

 

In June 2019, CMS implemented the Review Choice Demonstration ("RCD") Project for home health providers who submit claims to Palmetto GBA Medicare Administrative Contractor, specifically home health providers in Illinois, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. On September 1, 2021, CMS mandated participation for North Carolina and Florida providers. The Demonstration Project runs in six-month cycles until July 31, 2024, and is intended to reduce the number of Medicare appeals, and improve provider compliance with Medicare program requirements. Upon initiation of RCD or Cycle 1, HHAs had three initial choices; pre-claim review of 100% of claims; post-payment review; or minimal post-payment review with a 25% payment reduction. HHAs must have met a 90% target full provisional affirmation rate based on a minimum 10 requests/claims submitted to have successfully completed Cycle 1. For those HHAs who met the target affirmation rate and demonstrated compliance with certain Medicare rules, an additional review option of 5% Spot Check Review was available to choose for subsequent Cycles 2-6. Our home health business in the states of Florida and North Carolina are subject to the requirements of the RCD Project. These states recently finished Cycle 4-5 of the six total cycles and Cycle 6 began on January 1, 2024. If we do not comply with the requirements of the RCD Project we are at risk for significant advance payment or post-payment reviews and our reimbursement from the Medicare program could be delayed or reduced, thereby adversely impacting our results of operations, net income and cash flows. Additionally, states participating in the RCD Project are excluded from certain other CMS Audits referenced above.

 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress at the end of 2022 (also referred to as the “Omnibus Budget Bill”) contained several provisions that could impact our business. As to budget enforcement rules previously enacted by Congress, Section 1001 of the Omnibus Budget Bill waives Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (S-PAYGO) for two years through December 31, 2024. The S-PAYGO 4% mandatory sequestration of Medicare benefit payments that previously would have become effective on January 1, 2023 has now been delayed until January 1, 2025. Additionally, Section 4163 of the Omnibus Budget Bill extended the current Budget Control Act (BCA) mandatory sequestration of 2% of Medicare benefits through the first six (6) months of 2023 and revised the sequestration percentages for fiscal years 2030 through 2032 to 2%.

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On November 13, 2023, CMS issued the Calendar Year (“CY”) 2024 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update and Home Infusion Therapy Services Payment Update Final Rule which became effective on January 1, 2024. Key provisions of the 2024 Final Rule include:

The CY 2024 30-day base payment rate under PDGM was reduced by 1%.
CMS finalized its budget neutrality methodology for making permanent behavioral adjustments.
o
The permanent behavioral adjustment (reduction) of 5.78% to home health payments.
o
Half of the permanent behavioral adjustment (reduction), 2.89%, is applied to the 30-day base payment rate beginning on January 1, 2024.
The annual market basket update was an increase of 3.3% to the CY 2024 30-day base payment rate.

While we will make every effort to mitigate the impact of behavioral adjustments in 2024, we cannot assure you that implementation and application of the remaining 2.89% behavioral adjustment (reduction) beginning on January 1, 2024 will not have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

The implementation of alternative payment models and the transition of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries to managed care organizations may limit our market share and could adversely affect our revenues.

 

The healthcare industry in general is facing uncertainty associated with the efforts to identify and implement alternative delivery payment models and workable coordinated care. Many government and commercial payers are transitioning providers to alternative payment models that are designed to promote cost-efficiency, quality and coordination of care. For example, accountable care organizations (“ACOs”) incentivize hospitals, physician groups, and other providers to organize and coordinate patient care while reducing unnecessary costs. Conceptually, ACOs receive a portion of any savings generated above a certain threshold from care coordination as long as benchmarks for the quality of care are maintained. Providers are then paid based on the overall value and quality (as determined by outcomes) of the services they provide to a patient rather than the number of services they provide. Pursuant to the ACA, CMS has established several separate ACO programs, the largest of which is the Medicare Shared Savings Program (“MSSP”). CMS established the MSSP to facilitate coordination and cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and to reduce costs. Eligible providers, hospitals and suppliers may participate in the MSSP by creating, participating in or contracting with an ACO. The ACO rules adopted by CMS are extremely complex and remain subject to further refinement by CMS. According to CMS, 480 MSSP ACOs served over 13 million patients as of January 1, 2024. Beginning on January 1, 2023, CMS transitioned to the Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access and Community Health (“REACH”) Model, requiring ACO participants to meet several provisions on promoting health equity, including the creation of a health equity plan. If we are not included in these programs, or if ACOs establish programs that overlap with our services, we are at risk for losing market share, including a loss of our current business. Other alternative payment models may be presented by the government and commercial payers to control costs that subject our company to financial risk. Broad-based implementation of a new delivery payment model would represent a significant transformation for us and the healthcare industry generally. The development of new delivery and payment systems will almost certainly take significant time and expense. We cannot predict at this time what effect alternative payment models may have on our company.

 

We may be similarly impacted by increased enrollment of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in managed care plans, shifting away from traditional fee-for-service models. Under a managed Medicare plan, also known as Medicare Advantage, the federal government contracts with private health insurers to provide Medicare benefits and the insurers may choose to offer supplemental benefits. Approximately 51% of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2023, a figure that continues to grow. Beginning in 2019, CMS allowed Medicare Advantage plans to offer certain personal care services as a supplemental benefit. Enrollment in managed Medicaid plans is also growing, as states are increasingly relying on managed care organizations to deliver Medicaid program services as a strategy to control costs and manage resources. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in our efforts to be included in managed plan networks, that we will be able to secure favorable contracts with all or some of the managed care organizations, that our reimbursement under these programs will remain at current levels, that the authorizations for services will remain at current levels or that our profitability will remain at levels consistent with past performance. We may also face increased competition for managed care contracts as a result of state regulation and limitations. In addition, operational processes may not be well-defined as a state transitions Medicaid recipients to managed care. For example, membership, new referrals and the related authorization for services to be provided may be delayed, which may result in delays in service delivery to consumers or in payment for services rendered. Difficulties with operational processes associated with new managed care contracts may negatively affect our revenue growth rates, cash flow and profitability for services provided.

 

Because we are limited in our ability to control reimbursement rates received for our services, our business could be materially adversely affected if we are not able to maintain or reduce our costs to provide such services.

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We receive fixed payments at rates established through federal and state legislation from Medicare and Medicaid, our most significant payers, for our services. Consequently, our profitability largely depends upon our ability to manage the costs of providing these services. We cannot be assured that reimbursement payments under Medicare and Medicaid will remain at levels comparable to present levels or will be sufficient to cover the costs allocable to patients eligible for reimbursement pursuant to these programs. Additionally, non-government payer rates are difficult for us to negotiate as such payers are under pressure to reduce their own costs. As a result, we have sought to manage our costs in order to achieve a desired level of profitability including, but not limited to, centralization of various processes, the use of technology and management of the number of employees utilized. If we are not able to continue to streamline our processes and reduce our costs, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

 

Delays in collection or non-collection of our patient accounts receivable, or recoupment of payments previously received, particularly during the business integration process, or during system transitions, or in connection with complying with EVV data collection and submission requirements, could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

Prompt billing and collection are important factors in our liquidity and our business is characterized by delays from the time we provide services to the time we receive payment for these services. We bill numerous and varied payers, such as Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance payers. These different payers typically have different billing requirements that must be satisfied prior to receiving payment for services rendered. Reimbursement is typically conditioned on our documenting medical necessity and correctly applying diagnosis codes. Incorrect or incomplete documentation and billing information could result in non-payment for services rendered. Billing and collection of our patient accounts receivable with Medicare and Medicaid are further subject to the complex regulations that govern Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, and to rules imposed by nongovernment payers. For example, recent efforts have focused on improved coordination of regulation across the various types of Medicaid programs through which personal care services are offered. The 21st Century Cures Act, as amended, mandated that states implement EVV, which is used to collect home visit data, such as when the visit begins and ends. In several states, providers are now required to obtain state licenses or registrations and must comply with laws and regulations governing standards of practice. Providers must dedicate substantial resources to ensure continuing compliance with all applicable regulations and significant expenditures may be necessary to offer new services or to expand into new markets. The failure to comply with regulatory requirements could lead to the termination of rights to participate in federal and state-sponsored programs, repayment of payments previously received, and the suspension or revocation of licenses. We believe new licensing requirements and regulations, including EVV, the increasing focus on improving health outcomes, the rising cost and complexity of operations, technology and pressure on reimbursement rates due to constrained government resources may discourage new providers and may encourage industry consolidation. Further, states that fail to meet federally imposed EVV deadlines could potentially lose, without an application for a good cause extension, an escalating amount of their funding. Each state has different timelines and methodologies, including the data aggregators and processors used by each state, for implementing respective EVV process requirements. In order to comply with current and future state and federal regulations around EVV use, we utilize several different vendors. In states with an “open” model, the payer is able to choose its preferred EVV vendor. In states mandating the EVV vendor, a “closed” system, we utilize whichever vendor the state has mandated. In both cases, we have built interfaces between the EVV vendor and our clinical scheduling, documentation, and billing systems utilized in the respective branch and corporate locations. To the extent that our EVV vendors fail to support these processes, our internal operations could be negatively affected. To the extent that states fail to properly implement EVV, or that we fail to comply with new EVV data collection and submission requirements, our internal operations could be negatively affected. Our inability to collect and submit the data required by EVV regulations could negatively impact our ability to retain previously received payments or could subject us to future payment delays, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

In addition, timing delays in billings and collections may cause working capital shortages. Working capital management, including prompt and diligent billing and collection, is an important factor in our financial position and results of operations and in maintaining liquidity. It is possible that Medicare, Medicaid, documentation support, system problems or other provider issues or industry trends, particularly with respect to newly acquired entities for which we have limited operational experience, may extend our collection period, which may materially adversely affect our working capital, and our working capital management procedures may not successfully mitigate this risk.

 

The timing of payments made under the Medicare and Medicaid programs is subject to governmental budgetary constraints, which may result in an increased period of time between submission of claims and subsequent payment under specific programs, most notably under the Medicare and Medicaid managed care programs, which in many cases pay claims significantly slower than traditional Medicare or state Medicaid programs do as a result of more complicated authorization, billing and collecting processes that are required by Medicare and Medicaid managed care programs. In addition, we may experience delays in reimbursement as a result of the failure

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to receive prompt approvals related to change of ownership applications for acquired or other facilities or from delays caused by our or other third parties’ information system failures. Furthermore, the proliferation of Medicare and Medicaid managed care programs could have a material adverse impact on the results of our operations as a result of more complicated authorization, billing and collection requirements implemented by such programs.

 

A change in our estimates of collectability or a delay in collection of accounts receivable could adversely affect our results of operations and liquidity. The estimates are based on a variety of factors, including our historical associative collection rate of revenue recognized for patient services, the age of unbilled receivables, and the age of billed receivables. A deterioration in our associative collection rate of revenue recognized or the overall aging of accounts receivable, including, without limitation, in connection with our transition and integration of acquired companies, and the attendant movement of underlying billing and collection operations from legacy systems to future systems, could have a material negative impact on our results of operations and liquidity and we could be required to record impairment charges on our financial statements.

 

Failure to maintain the security and functionality of our information systems, or to defend against or otherwise prevent a cybersecurity attack or breach, could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

We collect, store, use, retain, disclose, transfer and otherwise process a significant amount of confidential, sensitive and personal information from and about our actual and potential patients and our employees, including tax information, patient health information and payroll data. In addition to internal resources, we rely on third-party service providers in providing our services, including to provide continual maintenance and enhancements and security of any protected data. Such third-party service providers have access to confidential, sensitive and personal information about our patients and employees, and some of these service providers in turn subcontract with other third-party service providers. Through contractual provisions, review from our cybersecurity team, our Vulnerability Management Framework, and third-party risk management processes, we take steps to require that our service providers, and their subcontractors, protect our confidential, sensitive and personal information. However, due to the size and complexity of our technology platform and services, the amount of confidential, sensitive and personal information that we store and the number of patients, employees and third-party service providers with access to confidential, sensitive and personal information, we are potentially vulnerable to a variety of intentional and inadvertent cybersecurity attacks and other security-related incidents and threats, which could result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

Threats to our information technology systems and data security can take a variety of forms. Hackers may develop and deploy viruses, worms and other malicious software programs that attack our networks and data centers or those of our service providers. Additionally, unauthorized parties may attempt to gain access to our systems or facilities, or those of third parties with whom we do business, through fraud, trickery, or other forms of deceiving our employees or contractors, direct social engineering, phishing, credential stuffing, ransomware, denial or degradation of service attacks and similar types of attacks against any or all of us, our patients and our service providers. Other threats include inadvertent security breaches or theft, misuse, unauthorized access or other improper actions by our employees, patients, service providers and other business partners. Cybersecurity attacks and other security-related incidents are increasing in frequency and evolving in nature.

 

We have implemented policy, procedural, technical, physical and administrative controls with the aim of protecting our networks, applications, bank accounts, and the confidential, sensitive and personal information entrusted to us from such threats. Specifically, we have cybersecurity management processes, independent of enterprise risk management, which adhere to an internally developed Intelligence Policy and a Vulnerability Management Framework, and in accordance therewith we have installed privacy protection systems and devices on our network and point of care tablets in an attempt to prevent unauthorized access to information in our database. In addition, a dedicated Assistant Vice President of Cybersecurity, who reports to the Chief Information Officer, has been tasked with managing the Company’s cybersecurity program and related policies, under ultimate oversight by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. However, given the unpredictability of the timing, nature and scope of cybersecurity attacks and other security-related incidents, our technology may fail to adequately secure the confidential health information and personally identifiable information we maintain in our databases and there can be no assurance that our data and cybersecurity risk management infrastructure or any security procedures and controls that our service providers have implemented will be sufficient to prevent such incidents from occurring. Furthermore, because the methods of attack and deception change frequently, are increasingly complex and sophisticated, and can originate from a wide variety of sources, including third parties such as service providers and even nation-state actors, it is possible that we may not be able to anticipate, detect, appropriately react and respond to, or implement effective preventative measures against, all cybersecurity attacks and other security-related incidents. As a result, our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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The occurrence of any actual or attempted cybersecurity attack or other security-related incident, the reporting of such an incident, whether accurate or not, or our failure to make adequate or timely disclosures to the public or law enforcement agencies following any such event, whether due to delayed discovery or a failure to follow existing protocols, could result in liability to our patients and/or regulators, which could result in significant fines, litigation penalties, orders, sanctions, adverse publicity, litigation or actions against us or our service providers by governmental bodies and other regulatory authorities, patients or third parties, that could have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and liquidity. Any such proceeding or action, any related indemnification obligation, even if we are not held liable, and any resulting negative publicity, could harm our business, damage our reputation, force us to incur significant expenses in defense of these proceedings, increase the costs of conducting our business, distract the attention of management or result in the imposition of financial liability.

 

We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to protect against the threat of cybersecurity attacks and security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by breaches, including unauthorized access to patient data and personally identifiable information stored in our information systems, the introduction of computer viruses or other malicious software programs to our systems, cybersecurity attacks, email phishing schemes, network disruption, denial of service attacks, malware and ransomware. A cybersecurity attack or other incident that bypasses our, our patients’ or third-party service providers’ information system’s security, or the information system’s security of vendors or counterparties to our patients’ or third-party service providers, could cause a security breach that may lead to a material disruption to our information systems infrastructure or business and may involve a significant loss of business or patient health information and other confidential, sensitive or personal information. If a cybersecurity attack or other unauthorized attempt to access our systems or facilities, or those of our patients or third-party service providers, directly or indirectly, were to be successful, it could result in the theft, destruction, loss, misappropriation or release of confidential, sensitive or personal information or intellectual property, and could cause operational or business delays that may materially impact our ability to provide various healthcare services. Any successful cybersecurity attack or other unauthorized attempt to access our systems or facilities, or those of our patients or third-party service providers, also could result in negative publicity which could damage our reputation or brand with our patients, referral sources, payers or other third parties and could subject us to substantial sanctions, fines and damages and other additional civil and criminal penalties under HIPAA, the HITECH Act, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule (the “Omnibus Rule”) and other federal and state privacy laws, in addition to litigation with those affected.

 

We, our patients, and our third-party service providers have been the victims of these types of threats, attacks and security breaches in the past. On February 21, 2024, Change Healthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group that acts as an intermediary for processing certain payment claims we submit through certain third-party revenue cycle management solutions for payors (“third-party vendors”), notified our third-party vendors of a cybersecurity incident. In response to the incident, both our third-party vendors and Change Healthcare severed the service connections between their respective systems. The Change Healthcare incident has not affected our operations, except our ability to submit payment claims through these particular third-party vendors. In the event the Change Healthcare service is not restored in a timely fashion, we may experience payment collection delays as we turn to alternative channels to submit certain claims. As of the date hereof, the incident has affected approximately sixteen business days of billings for certain claims and could, depending on when Change Healthcare restores its service or our full implementation of alternative claims submission arrangements, result in an increase in our patient accounts receivable balances and a decrease in our Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities for the first quarter of 2024. We expect to fund any increase in working capital resulting from the billing and payment disruption through cash on hand and draws on our Securitization Facility and Revolving Credit Facility. No security measures, procedures, technology or amount of preparation can provide guaranteed protection from these threats, or ensure that we, our patients and our third-party service providers will not be victims again in the future. Similar events, like the cyber-attack described above may occur again in the future.

 

Failure to maintain the security and functionality of our information systems and related software, or to defend a cybersecurity attack or other attempt to gain unauthorized access to our systems, facilities or patient health information could expose us to a number of adverse consequences, the vast majority of which are not insurable, including but not limited to disruptions in our operations, regulatory and other civil and criminal penalties, fines, investigations and enforcement actions (including, but not limited to, those arising from the SEC, Federal Trade Commission, the HHS Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) or State Attorneys General), litigation with those affected by the data breach, loss of patients, disputes with payers and increased operating expense, which either individually or in the aggregate could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

Healthcare reform and other regulations could adversely affect our customers, which could have an adverse effect on their ability to make timely payments to us for our products and services.

 

There are continuing efforts to reform governmental healthcare programs by federal and state governments that could result in major changes in the healthcare delivery and reimbursement system on a national and state level. The ACA and other laws and regulations that

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limit or restrict Medicare and Medicaid payments to our customers could adversely impact our customers, resulting in their inability to pay us, or pay us in a timely manner, for our services. Efforts to repeal or substantially modify provisions of the ACA continue in the federal courts. Federal regulatory agencies continue to modify ACA regulations and guidance related to the ACA, often as a result of presidential directives. The ultimate outcomes of efforts to expand the ACA, substantially amend its provisions or change the funding for the ACA is unknown. Though we cannot predict what, if any, reform proposals will be adopted, healthcare reform and legislation may have a material adverse effect on our business and our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Any future efforts to challenge, repeal or replace the ACA or implement alternative reform measures may result in reduced funding for state Medicaid programs, lower numbers of insured individuals, reduced coverage for insured individuals and could impact providers and other healthcare industry participants. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Regulatory Framework.”

Changes in the case-mix of our patients, as well as payer mix and payment methodologies, may have a material adverse effect on our profitability.

 

The sources and amounts of our patient revenues is determined by a number of factors, including the mix of patients and the rates of reimbursement among third-party payers. Changes in the case-mix of our patients as well as the third-party payer mix among Medicare, Medicaid and private payers may significantly affect our profitability. In particular, any significant increase in our Medicare or Medicaid population, or decrease in Medicare or Medicaid payments could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flow, particularly if states operating these programs continue to limit, or more aggressively seek limits on, reimbursement rates or service levels.

 

Changes in payment methodologies by third-party payers could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flow. On November 1, 2023, CMS released its final rule for fiscal year 2024 (the “2024 HH Rule”). With respect to Medicare reimbursement rates, the 2024 HH Rule implements a home health payment increase of 0.8%. This reflects a market basket increase of 3.3% and an outlier payment increase of 0.4% offset by a productivity adjustment of -0.3% and a PDGM behavioral assumption adjustment of -5.78%. CMS projects the overall impact of the -5.78% adjustment to be -2.89% as the adjustment is only made to the 30-day payment rate and not Low Utilization Payment Adjustment (LUPA) rates. Any future significant changes in CMS reimbursement methodology, or future decreases in reimbursement rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

 

If we are unable to provide consistently high quality of care, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows will be adversely impacted.

 

Providing quality patient care is fundamental to our business. We believe that hospitals, physicians and other referral sources refer patients to us in large part because of our reputation for delivering quality care. Clinical quality is becoming increasingly important within our industry. Effective October 2012, Medicare began to impose a financial penalty upon hospitals that have excessive rates of patient readmissions within 30 days from hospital discharge. We believe this regulation provides a competitive advantage to home health providers who can differentiate themselves based upon quality, particularly by achieving low patient acute care hospitalization readmission rates and by implementing disease management programs designed to be responsive to the needs of patients served by referring hospitals. We are focused intently upon improving our patient outcomes, particularly our patient acute care hospitalization readmission rates. If we should fail to attain our goals regarding acute care hospitalization readmission rates and other quality metrics, we expect our ability to generate referrals would be adversely impacted, which could have a material adverse effect upon our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Additionally, Medicare has established consumer-facing websites, Home Health Compare and Hospice Compare, that present data regarding our performance on certain quality measures compared to state and national averages. If we should fail to achieve or exceed these averages, it may affect our ability to generate referrals, which could have a material adverse effect upon our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Quality reporting requirements may negatively impact Medicare reimbursement.

 

Hospice quality reporting was mandated by the ACA, which directs the Secretary of HHS to establish quality reporting requirements for hospice programs. Failure to submit required quality data will result in a 2%-point reduction to the market basket percentage increase for that fiscal year. This quality reporting program is currently “pay-for-reporting,” meaning it is the act of submitting data that determines compliance with program requirements.

 

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The IMPACT Act requires the submission of standardized data by home health agencies. Specifically, the IMPACT Act requires, among other significant activities, the reporting of standardized patient assessment data with regard to quality measures, resource use and other measures. Failure to report data as required will subject providers to a 2% reduction in market basket prices then in effect.

 

Similarly, in the Calendar Year 2015 Home Health Final Rule, CMS established a new “Pay-for-Reporting Performance Requirement” with which provider compliance with quality reporting program requirements can be measured. Home health agencies that do not submit quality measure data to CMS are subject to a 2% reduction in their annual home health payment update percentage. There can be no assurance that all our home health and hospice agencies will continue to meet quality reporting requirements in the future, which may result in one or more of our home health or hospice agencies seeing a reduction in its Medicare reimbursements. Regardless, we, like other healthcare providers, are likely to incur additional expenses in an effort to comply with additional and changing quality reporting requirements.

 

Additionally, CMS initiated the Value Based Purchasing Demonstration (VBP) Project for nine states, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington in 2016 for the purpose of using Medicare data to provide greater transparency on quality in order to deliver care based on value over volume. Data is pulled from OASIS, Medicare claims data and patient satisfaction scores. The Demonstration Project ended in December 2022 and effective January 1, 2023, CMS expanded VBP nationally to all providers. HHA performance in 2024 will determine payments in 2026.

 

Our hospice operations are subject to annual Medicare caps. If any of our hospice providers exceeds such caps, our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

 

Medicare payments to a hospice are subject to an inpatient cap amount and an overall payment cap amount, which are calculated and published by CMS on an annual basis covering the period from November 1 through October 31. If payments received under any of our hospice operations exceeds any of these caps, we may be required to reimburse Medicare for payments received in excess of the caps, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Our failure to negotiate favorable managed care contracts, or our loss of existing favorable managed care contracts, could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

 

We believe that there is a growing trend of patient utilization of managed care. Accordingly, we seek to diversify our payer sources by increasing the business we already do with managed care companies, such as HMOs and PPOs. However, we may not be successful in these efforts. There is also a risk that any favorable managed care contracts that we have may be terminated on short notice, because managed care contracts typically permit the payer to terminate the contract without cause, typically upon 90 days’ notice, but in some cases upon a shorter notice period. The ability to terminate on short notice without cause can provide such companies with leverage to reduce volume or obtain favorable pricing to the detriment of our business strategy, and managed care contracts are subject to frequent change as a result of renegotiations and renewals. Our failure to negotiate, secure, and maintain favorable managed care contracts could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Furthermore, managed care contracts typically have complicated authorization, billing and collection provisions. Our inability to properly obtain authorizations from managed care programs or accurately bill managed care programs could result in material denied claims, or expose us to material repayment obligations, thereby materially adversely impacting our results of operations.

 

The home health and hospice industries have historically experienced shortages in qualified employees and management, and competition for qualified personnel may increase our labor costs and reduce profitability.

 

We compete with other healthcare providers for our employees, both professional employees and management. If we are unable to attract and retain qualified personnel, the quality of our services may decline and we could lose patients and referral sources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel depends on several factors, including our ability to provide these personnel with attractive assignments and competitive salaries and benefits. We cannot be assured we will succeed in any of these areas. In some markets, the lack of availability of medical personnel is a significant operating issue facing all healthcare providers.

 

If the demand for home health and/or hospice services continues to exceed the supply of available and qualified personnel, we and our competitors may be forced to offer higher compensation and other benefits to attract and retain them. Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we experienced increased caregiver recruitment and retention costs, including hiring and retention incentives, as well as higher base compensation rates as we passed reimbursement rate increases from our payers through to our caregivers. While the impacts on us of the COVID-19 pandemic began to subside in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, the labor markets remained challenging as a

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result of both shortages in workforce and inflationary wage pressures, which have constrained our ability to recruit and retain caregivers to meet patient demand. For example, recruitment of qualified caregivers in our private duty services businesses is highly competitive. The majority of our HHH and PDN caregivers are LPN and we compete for this labor pool both with competitors in our private duty services industry as well as other healthcare organizations outside our industry, to include hospitals. Hospitals and other healthcare providers have expanded LPN utilization in their labor pools. Even if we were to offer higher compensation and other benefits, there can be no assurance that these individuals will choose to join or continue to work for us. In addition, if we expand our operations into geographic areas where healthcare providers historically have been unionized, or if any of our employees become unionized, being subject to a collective bargaining agreement may have a negative impact on our ability to timely and successfully recruit qualified personnel and may increase our operating costs. We currently have no union employees, so an increase in labor union activity could have a significant impact on our labor costs. Furthermore, the competitive market for this labor force has created turnover as many seek to take advantage of the supply of available positions, each offering new and more attractive wage and benefit packages. In addition to the wage pressures inherent in this environment, the cost of training new employees amid the turnover rates may cause added pressure on our operating results. If our labor costs continue to increase, we may not experience reimbursement rate or pricing increases to offset these additional costs. Our ability to pass along increased labor costs is limited, which could significantly affect our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Any economic downturn, deepening of an economic downturn or federal and state budget pressures may result in a reduction in payments and covered services.

 

While we believe that our services are not typically sensitive to general declines in the federal and state economies, the erosion in the tax base caused by a general economic downturn can cause restrictions on the federal and state governments’ abilities to obtain financing and a decline in spending. In the wake of the 2008 economic recession, most states faced unprecedented declines in tax revenues and, as a result, record budget gaps. If the economy were to contract into a recession (for example, as a result of a public health emergency, inflation or as a result of the recent significant increase in prevailing interest rates), our government payers or other counterparties that owe us money could be delayed in obtaining, or may not be able to obtain, necessary funding and/or financing to meet their cash flow needs. As a result, we may face increased pricing pressure, termination of contracts, reimbursement rate cuts or reimbursement delays from Medicare and Medicaid and other governmental payers, which could adversely impact our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Adverse developments in the United States could lead to a reduction in federal government expenditures, including governmentally funded programs in which we participate, such as Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, if at any time the federal government is not able to meet its debt payments unless the federal debt ceiling is raised, and legislation increasing the debt ceiling is not enacted, the federal government may stop or delay making payments on its obligations, including funding for Medicare and Medicaid. Failure of the federal government to make payments under these programs could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Further, any failure by the U.S. Congress to complete the federal budget process and fund government operations may result in a federal government shutdown, potentially causing us to incur substantial costs without reimbursement under Medicare and/or Medicaid, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. As an example, the failure of the 2011 Joint Select Committee to meet its Deficit Reduction goal resulted in an automatic reduction in certain Medicare home health payments. Medicaid outlays may also be significantly affected by state budget pressures, and we can expect continuing cost containment pressures on Medicaid outlays for our services. In addition, sustained unfavorable economic conditions may affect the number of patients enrolled in managed care programs and the profitability of managed care companies, which could result in reduced payment rates and could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Our business is dependent on the availability, integrity and security of internal and external information systems and IT services, but there are risks of business disruption associated with new business systems and technology initiatives.

 

We are dependent on the proper functioning, availability and uninterrupted operation of our information systems and related software programs. Our information systems require an ongoing commitment of significant resources to maintain, protect and enhance existing systems and develop new systems to keep pace with continuing changes in technology, evolving industry and regulatory standards, and changing patient preferences. Costs and potential problems and interruptions associated with the implementation of new or upgraded systems and technology or with maintenance or adequate support of existing systems also could disrupt or reduce the efficiency of our business. We may also incur additional costs in relation to any new systems, procedures and controls and additional management attention could be required in order to ensure an efficient integration, placing burdens on our internal resources. In addition, certain software supporting our business and information systems are licensed to us by third-party software developers. Our inability, or the inability of such third parties, to continue to maintain and upgrade our information systems and software could disrupt or reduce the

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efficiency of our operations. Hardware, software, or applications we develop or procure from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture or other problems that could unexpectedly compromise information security.

 

In the ordinary course of business, we implement new or upgraded business and information technology systems for our various businesses to meet our operational needs. Implementation disruptions or the failure of new systems and technology initiatives to operate in accordance with expectations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position results of operations and liquidity. Moreover, in connection with recent and future acquisitions, it is necessary for us to continue to create an integrated business from the various acquired entities. This requires the establishment of a common management team to guide the acquired companies, the conversion of numerous information systems to a common operating system, the establishment of a brand identity for the acquired companies, the streamlining of the operating structure to optimize efficiency and customer service and a reassessment of the inventory and supplier base to ensure the availability of products at competitive prices. As a result of our historical acquisition activities, we have acquired additional information systems. We have been taking steps to reduce the number of systems we operate, have upgraded and expanded our information systems capabilities, and are gradually migrating to fewer information systems. No assurance can be given that these various actions can be completed without disruption to the business, in a short period of time or that anticipated improvements in operating performance can be achieved.

 

Though we have taken steps to protect the safety and security of our information systems and the patient health information and other data maintained within those systems, there can be no assurance that our safety and security measures and disaster recovery plan (and those of our third-party service providers) will prevent damage to, or interruption or breach of, our information systems and operations. See also “—Failure to maintain the security and functionality of our information systems, or to defend against or otherwise prevent a cybersecurity attack or breach, could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.” Our IT and information systems may fail to operate properly (for example, by capturing patient data erroneously) or become disabled as a result of events that are beyond our control. For example, our information systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from fire, flood, earthquake, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, power loss, telecommunications failure, break-ins, attacks from malicious third parties, improper operation, computer viruses, unauthorized entry, data loss, cybersecurity attacks, acts or war and similar events. Some of our systems are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning may not be sufficient for all eventualities. Additionally, because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, disable, or degrade service, or sabotage systems change frequently and may be difficult to detect for long periods of time, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventive measures. Any such failure of IT and information systems could adversely affect our reputation, our ability to effect transactions and service customers and merchants, disrupt our business or result in the misuse of patient or patient data, financial loss or liability to our patients, the loss of a supplier or regulatory intervention or reputational damage. Problems with, or the failure of, our technology and systems or any system upgrades or programming changes associated with such technology and systems could have a material adverse effect on data capture, medical documentation, billing, collections, assessment of internal controls and management and reporting capabilities, as well as on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

We develop and maintain portions of our clinical software systems in house. Failure of, or problems with, our systems could harm our business and operating results.

 

We develop and utilize clinical, appointment scheduling and billing software systems, including our “Aveanna Connect” software, to collect assessment data, log patient visits, generate medical orders, schedule patients’ appointments and monitor treatments and outcomes in accordance with established medical standards. The system integrates billing and collections functionality as well as accounting, human resource, payroll, and employee benefits programs provided by third parties. We also develop and utilize internal applications and interfaces to collect and submit the data required by EVV regulations, for example GPS coordinates. Problems with, or the failure of, our technology and systems could negatively impact data capture, billing, collections and management and reporting capabilities. Any such problems or failures could adversely affect our operations and reputation, result in significant costs to us, and impair our ability to provide our services in the future. Additionally, our software utilizes open source software and any defects or security vulnerabilities in such open source software, or any requirement to publicly disclose all or part of the source code to our software or to make available any derivative works of the open source code on unfavorable terms or at no cost, could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. The costs incurred in correcting any errors or problems may be substantial, may negatively affect the public’s perception of our services and could adversely affect our profitability.

 

If any of our home health or hospice agencies fail to comply with the conditions of participation in the Medicare program, that agency could be terminated from Medicare, which could adversely affect our revenue and net income.

 

Our home health and hospice agencies must comply with the extensive conditions of participation in the Medicare program. These conditions generally require our home health and hospice agencies to meet specified standards relating to personnel, patient rights,

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patient care, patient records, administrative reporting and legal compliance. If a home health agency or hospice fails to meet any of the Medicare conditions of participation, that home health agency or hospice may receive a notice of deficiency from the applicable surveyor or accreditor. If that home health agency or hospice then fails to institute a plan of correction to correct the deficiency within the time period provided by the surveyor or accreditor, that home health agency or hospice could be terminated from the Medicare program. We respond in the ordinary course to deficiency notices issued by surveyors or accreditors. Any termination of one or more of our home health or hospice agencies from the Medicare program for failure to satisfy the Medicare conditions of participation could adversely affect our revenue and net income.

 

We may not be able to adequately obtain and maintain our intellectual property and proprietary rights, which could impair our ability to protect and enforce intellectual property and our brand.

 

We rely on a combination of trademark law, trade secret protection, contractual restrictions and other intellectual property laws and confidentiality procedures to establish and protect our proprietary rights. We have not applied for any patents and cannot give assurances that any patent applications will be made by us or that, if they are made, they will be granted.

 

We may, over time, strategically increase our intellectual property investment through additional trademark, patent and other intellectual property filings, which could be expensive and time-consuming and are not guaranteed to result in the issuance of registrations. Even if we are successful in obtaining a particular patent, trademark or copyright registration, it is expensive to enforce our rights, including through maintenance costs, monitoring, sending demand letters, initiating administrative proceedings and filing lawsuits.

 

In addition to registering material and eligible intellectual property, we rely to a degree on contractual restrictions to prevent others from exploiting our intellectual property rights. However, the enforceability of these provisions is subject to various state and federal laws and is therefore uncertain. Our failure to develop and properly manage new intellectual property could hurt our market position and business opportunities. Furthermore, recent changes to U.S. intellectual property laws may jeopardize the enforceability and validity of our intellectual property portfolio.

 

Although we have generally taken measures to protect our intellectual property rights, there can be no assurance that the steps that we have taken to protect our intellectual property will prevent third parties from infringing or misappropriating our intellectual property or deter independent development of equivalent or superior intellectual property rights by others. We will not be able to protect our intellectual property rights if we are unable to enforce our rights or if we do not detect or determine the extent of unauthorized use of our intellectual property rights. If we are unable to prevent third parties from adopting, registering or using trademarks and trade dress that infringe, dilute, or otherwise violate our trademark rights, the value of our brands could be diminished, and our business could be adversely affected. Our intellectual property rights may be infringed, misappropriated or challenged, which could result in them being narrowed in scope or declared invalid or unenforceable.

 

Similarly, our reliance on unpatented proprietary information, such as trade secrets and confidential information, depends in part on agreements we have in place with employees, independent contractors and other third parties that allocate ownership of intellectual property and place restrictions on the use and disclosure of this intellectual property. These agreements may be insufficient or may be breached, in either case potentially resulting in the unauthorized use or disclosure of our trade secrets and other intellectual property, including to our competitors, which could cause us to lose any competitive advantage resulting from this intellectual property, and we cannot be certain that we will have adequate remedies for any breach. We cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary information or otherwise developed intellectual property for us, including our software, technology and processes. Individuals not subject to invention assignment agreements may make adverse ownership claims to our current and future intellectual property. Additionally, to the extent that our employees, independent contractors, or other third parties with whom we do business use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions. There can be no assurance that our intellectual property rights will be sufficient to protect against others offering products or services that are substantially similar to ours and that compete with our business.

 

We may become subject to intellectual property disputes, which could be costly and may subject us to significant liability and increased costs of doing business.

 

We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our intellectual property rights, and we may be subject to claims by third parties that we have infringed, misappropriated or otherwise violated their intellectual property. Even if we believe that intellectual property related claims are without merit, litigation may be necessary to determine the scope and validity of intellectual property or proprietary rights of others or to protect or enforce our intellectual property rights. The ultimate outcome of any allegation is often

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uncertain and, regardless of the outcome, any such claim, with or without merit, may be time-consuming, result in costly litigation, divert management’s time and attention from our business, and require us to, among other things, redesign or stop providing our products or services, pay substantial amounts to satisfy judgments or settle claims or lawsuits, pay substantial royalty or licensing fees, or satisfy indemnification obligations that we have with certain parties with whom we have commercial relationships.

 

We believe we have all the necessary licenses from third parties to use technology and software that we do not own. A third-party could, however, allege that we are infringing its rights, which may deter our ability to obtain licenses on commercially reasonable terms from the third-party, if at all, or cause the third-party to commence litigation against us. Our failure to obtain necessary license or other rights, or litigation or claims arising out of intellectual property matters, may harm or restrict our business. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us. In addition, we could be found liable for significant monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent or other intellectual property right. Any such litigation or the failure to obtain any necessary licenses or other rights, could adversely impact our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

We have substantial indebtedness, which will increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions and may limit our ability to pursue strategic alternatives and react to changes in our business and industry or pay dividends.

 

We have a substantial amount of indebtedness. As of December 30, 2023, we had $1,470 million principal amount outstanding under our Senior Secured Credit Facilities (as defined below) as well as our Securitization Facility (as defined below) with approximately $168.1 million borrowing capacity under our Revolving Credit Facility (as defined below) as well as our Securitization Facility (as defined below).

 

Our high degree of leverage could have important consequences for our investors. For example, it may make it more difficult for us to make payments on our Senior Secured Credit Facilities or it may restrict our access to borrowings under our Revolving Credit Facility; increase our vulnerability to general economic and industry conditions, including recessions and periods of significant inflation and financial market volatility; expose us to the risk of increased interest rates as certain of our borrowings, including borrowings under the Senior Secured Credit Facilities, are at variable rates of interest; require us to use a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to service our indebtedness, thereby reducing our ability to fund working capital and other expenses; limit our ability to refinance existing indebtedness on favorable terms or at all or borrow additional funds in the future for, among other things, working capital, acquisitions or debt service requirements; limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industries in which we operate; and place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to competitors that have less indebtedness.

 

In addition, the Senior Secured Credit Facilities and Revolving Credit Facility contain customary restrictive covenants that limit our ability to engage in activities that may be in our long-term best interest. Those covenants include restrictions on our ability to, among other things, incur additional indebtedness, incur liens, pay dividends and make other payments in respect of capital stock, make acquisitions, investments, loans and advances, transfer or sell assets and enter into certain transactions with our affiliates, and in certain circumstances, including if our Revolving Credit Facility becomes more than 30% utilized and we exceed our maintenance leverage covenant, restrict our access to borrowings under our Revolving Credit Facility. Our failure to comply with those covenants could result in an event of default which, if not cured or waived, could result in the acceleration of all our debt under the Senior Secured Credit Facilities. Our Securitization Facility contains certain restrictive covenants including a cash dominion provision which may limit our access to certain operating cash accounts in the event of default. Any such event of default or acceleration could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Furthermore, the terms of any future debt we may incur could have further additional restrictive covenants. We may not be able to maintain compliance with these covenants in the future, and in the event that we are not able to maintain compliance, we cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain waivers from the lenders or amend the covenants.

 

If we are unable to extend the maturity date of our debt facilities as needed on a long-term basis, this could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Our debt facilities will mature and the outstanding obligations thereunder will become due in forthcoming years. If we are unable to extend the maturity dates of our debt, this would result in outstanding balances becoming due and payable in full, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Our variable rate indebtedness subjects us to interest rate risk, which could cause our indebtedness service obligations to increase significantly.

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Our variable rate debt instruments are primarily indexed to the secured overnight financing rate (“SOFR”) and have a SOFR floor of 50 basis points. Our outstanding variable rate indebtedness at December 30, 2023 was $1,470 million. While we have interest caps and interest rate swap agreements currently in place that protect us from exposure to increases in SOFR above 2.96%, to the extent we incur variable rate debt in excess of aggregate notional amount of such instruments or are unable to obtain similar coverage following expiration of such instruments, we may be unable to mitigate our interest rate risk. The U.S. Federal Reserve Board significantly increased the federal funds rate in 2022 and 2023 to combat rising inflation in the United States, which has increased the borrowing costs on our variable rate debt and may increase the cost of any new debt we incur. Any further additional federal fund rate increases could in turn make our financing activities, including those related to our acquisition activity, more costly and limit our ability to refinance existing debt when it matures or pay higher interest rates upon refinancing and increase interest expense on refinanced indebtedness. If interest rates continue to increase, our debt service obligations on our variable rate indebtedness would likewise increase even though the amount borrowed remained the same, and our net income and cash flows, including cash available for servicing our indebtedness, would correspondingly decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our overall financial condition. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Indebtedness”.

 

We may not be able to identify, acquire, successfully integrate and obtain financing for strategic and accretive acquisitions.

 

We regularly evaluate opportunities to acquire other companies and have undertaken, and may in the future undertake, strategic and accretive acquisitions. To the extent our growth strategy includes strategic and accretive acquisitions, we cannot assure you that we will successfully identify suitable acquisition candidates, obtain financing for such acquisitions, if necessary, consummate such potential acquisitions or efficiently integrate any acquired entities or successfully expand into new markets as a result of our acquisitions. If we are unable to successfully execute on such a strategy in the future, our growth could be limited.

 

We believe that there are risks related to acquiring companies, including overpaying for acquisitions, losing key employees of acquired companies or legacy companies, failing to effectively integrate acquired companies, the assumption of liabilities and exposure to unforeseen liabilities of acquired branch, regional and corporate operations, and failing to achieve potential synergies or remove transition, integration or non-recurring costs. Historically, we have funded acquisitions primarily through our credit facilities, and there is no guarantee that we will be able to obtain financing for any future acquisition on favorable terms, if at all. Furthermore, in certain circumstances, we could be required to pay or be involved in disputes relating to termination fees or liquidated damages if an acquisition is not consummated. If we become obligated to pay a termination fee or liquidated damages, the payment could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Upon consummation of an acquisition, the integration process could divert the attention of management, and any difficulties or problems encountered in the transition process could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In particular, the integration process may temporarily redirect resources previously focused on reducing cost of services, resulting in lower gross profits in relation to sales. The process of combining companies could cause the interruption of, or a loss of momentum in, the activities of the respective businesses, which could have an adverse effect on their combined operations. Additionally, in some acquisitions, we may have to renegotiate, or risk losing, one or more third-party payer contracts. We may also be unable to immediately collect the accounts receivable of an acquired entity while we align the payer payment systems and accounts with our own systems. Finally, certain transactions can require licensure changes which, in turn, result in disruptions in payment for services.

 

We may also make strategic divestitures from time to time. With respect to any divestiture, we may encounter difficulty finding potential acquirers or other divestiture options on favorable terms. Any divestiture could affect our profitability as a result of the gains or losses on such sale of a business or service, the loss of the operating income resulting from such sale or the costs or liabilities that are not assumed by the acquirer (i.e., stranded costs) that may negatively impact profitability subsequent to any divestiture. The Company may also be required to recognize impairment charges as a result of a divestiture.

 

Federal regulation may impair our ability to consummate acquisitions or open new branch locations.

 

Changes in federal laws or regulations may materially adversely impact future acquisitions. For example, the Social Security Act provides the Secretary of HHS with the authority to impose temporary moratoria on the enrollment of new Medicare providers if deemed necessary to combat fraud, waste or abuse under government programs. While there are no active Medicare moratoria, there can be no assurance that CMS will not adopt a moratorium on new providers in the future. Additionally, in 2010, CMS implemented and amended a regulation known as the “36 Month Rule” that is applicable to home health agency acquisitions. Subject to certain exceptions, the 36 Month Rule prohibits buyers of certain home health agencies – those that either enrolled in Medicare or underwent a change in majority

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ownership fewer than 36 months prior to the acquisition – from assuming the Medicare billing privileges of the acquired branch locations. The 36 Month Rule may restrict bona fide transactions and potentially block new investments in home health agencies. These changes in federal laws and regulations, and similar future changes, may further increase competition for acquisition targets and could have a material adverse effect on any acquisition strategy.

 

We are exposed to various risks related to legal proceedings, claims and governmental inquiries that could adversely affect our operating results. The nature of our business exposes us to various liability claims, which may exceed the level of our insurance coverage, meaning that our insurance may not fully protect us.

 

We are a party to lawsuits, claims and governmental inquiries in the normal course of our business. See Note 13 – Commitments and Contingencies to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part II, Item 8, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Responding to lawsuits brought against us and governmental inquiries or legal actions that we may initiate, can often be expensive and time-consuming and disruptive to normal business operations. Moreover, the results of complex legal proceedings and governmental inquiries are difficult to predict. Unfavorable outcomes from these claims, lawsuits and governmental inquiries could adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition, and we could incur substantial monetary liability and/or be required to change our business practices.

 

The nature of our business subjects us to inherent risk of professional liability and substantial damage awards. Healthcare providers have become subject to an increasing number of legal actions alleging malpractice or related legal theories in recent years, many of which involve large monetary claims and significant defense costs. In general, we coordinate care for medically fragile children and adults and end-of-life care for adults through our own network of full time and part-time employed clinicians, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed therapists, certified nursing assistants, home health aides, therapy assistants and other similar providers. Although we carefully screen all of the providers in our network and actively remove those that fall below a certain quality threshold, we cannot be certain that a provider will not incur tort liability, including medical malpractice, in treating one of our referred patients. As the referring party in such a case, we could be found negligent if our screening and monitoring procedures are deemed inadequate. The nurses and other healthcare professionals we employ could be considered our agents and, as a result, we could be held liable for their medical negligence.

 

Additionally, although we do not grant, deny or adjudicate claims for payment of benefits and we do not believe that we engage in the corporate practice of medicine or the delivery of medical services, there can be no assurance that we will not be subject to claims or litigation related to the authorization or denial of claims for payment of benefits to allegations that we have engaged in fee splitting, which may be prohibited under state laws, or to allegations that we engage in the corporate practice of medicine or the delivery of medical services.

 

While we do not design or manufacture the products sold by our MS segment, there can be no assurance that we will not be subject to product liability claims related to such products and that such claims will not result in liability in excess of our insurance coverage.

 

Moreover, we could also be subject to potential litigation associated with compliance with various laws and governmental regulations at the federal or state levels, such as those relating to the protection of persons with disabilities, employment, health, safety, security and other regulations under which we operate.

 

We maintain professional liability insurance to provide coverage to us and our subsidiaries against these litigation claims and potential litigation risks. However, we cannot assure you claims will not be made in the future in excess of the limits of our insurance, nor can we assure you that any such claims, if successful and in excess of such limits or if our insurance carriers successfully deny coverage, will not have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. We cannot assure you that the insurance we maintain will satisfy claims made against us or that insurance coverage will continue to be available to us at commercially reasonable rates, in adequate amounts or on satisfactory terms. Any claims made against us, regardless of their merit or eventual outcome, could damage our reputation and business and our ability to attract and retain patients and employees.

 

Our balance sheet includes a significant amount of goodwill and intangible assets. An impairment in the carrying value of goodwill could negatively impact our consolidated results of operations and total assets.

 

Our balance sheet includes a significant amount of goodwill and intangible assets. Goodwill and intangible assets, net, together accounted for approximately 71% of total assets on our balance sheet as of December 30, 2023. The impairment of a significant portion of these assets would negatively affect our financial condition or results of operations. We regularly evaluate whether events and

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circumstances have occurred indicating that any portion of our intangible assets and goodwill may not be recoverable. When factors indicate that intangible assets and goodwill should be evaluated for possible impairment, we may be required to reduce the carrying value of these assets. During fiscal year 2022, we performed an interim impairment assessment as of July 2, 2022. Based on that assessment, we determined the carrying value of five of our six reporting units across our three segments exceeded their respective fair values and accordingly recorded an aggregate goodwill impairment charge of $470.2 million during the three-month period ended July 2, 2022. During our annual goodwill impairment assessment during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, we determined that the carrying value of five of our six reporting units across our three segments exceeded their respective fair values, and accordingly, recorded an aggregate goodwill impairment charge of $205.1 million during the three-month period ended December 31, 2022. During fiscal year 2023, we performed an interim impairment assessment as of September 30, 2023. We identified that the carrying value of the HHH reporting unit exceeded its estimated fair value. As such, we determined that the goodwill associated with the reporting unit was impaired and recorded an impairment charge, net of tax effect, of approximately $105.1 million to reduce goodwill associated with the reporting unit. No additional impairment was taken during our annual impairment assessment during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023. We cannot currently estimate the timing and amount of any future reductions in carrying value.

 

Moreover, when we acquire a business, we record goodwill as the excess of the consideration transferred plus the fair value of any non-controlling interest in the target at the acquisition date over the fair values of the identifiable net assets acquired. In accordance with Accounting Standards Codification Topic 350 “Intangibles—Goodwill and Other,” we test goodwill for impairment annually and on an interim date if factors or indicators become apparent that would require an interim test.

 

In evaluating the potential for impairment of goodwill, we make assumptions regarding future operating performance, business trends, and market and economic conditions. Such analyses further require us to make judgmental assumptions about referrals, sales, operating margins, growth rates, and discount rates. There are inherent uncertainties related to these factors and to management’s judgment in applying these factors to the assessment of goodwill recoverability. We could be required to evaluate the recoverability of goodwill prior to the annual assessment if we experience disruptions to the business, significant unexpected declines in operating results or divestitures of a significant component of our business.

 

We can provide no assurance that a material impairment charge will not occur in a future period. Such an impairment could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

If we are unable to maintain our corporate reputation, or there is adverse publicity or changes in public perception of our services, our business may suffer.

 

Our success depends on our ability to maintain our corporate reputation, including our reputation for providing quality patient care and for compliance with applicable Medicare and Medicaid requirements and the other laws to which we are subject. For example, while we believe that the services we provide are of high quality, if our “quality measures,” which are published annually online by CMS, are deemed to be not of the highest value, our reputation could be negatively affected. Adverse publicity surrounding any aspect of our business, including our failure to provide proper care, litigation, changes in public perception of our services, or failure on our part to comply with applicable Medicare and Medicaid requirements or other laws to which we are subject, could negatively affect our Company’s overall reputation and the willingness of referral sources to refer patients to us and of patients to use our services.

 

We are sensitive to regional weather conditions that may adversely affect our operations.

 

Our operations are directly affected in the short-term by the weather conditions in certain of our regions of operation, particularly along coastal areas in the United States, which may be subject to hurricanes. Weather conditions, including tornadoes, significant rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain or ice, or other factors beyond our control, such as wildfires, could disrupt patient scheduling, displace our patients and caregivers or force certain of our facilities to close temporarily or for an extended period of time, thereby reducing patient volumes. Therefore, our business is sensitive to the weather conditions of these regions. Moreover, physical effects of climate change such as increases in temperature, sea levels, the severity of weather events and the frequency of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, wildfires, floods and earthquakes, among other effects, could disrupt our operations. While we have disaster recovery systems and business continuity plans in place, any disruptions in our disaster recovery systems or the failure of these systems to operate as expected could, depending on the magnitude of the problem, adversely affect our operating results by limiting our capacity to effectively monitor and control our operations. Although we maintain insurance coverage, we cannot guarantee that our insurance coverage will be adequate to cover any losses or that we will be able to maintain insurance at a reasonable cost in the future. Accordingly, our operating results may vary from quarter to quarter, depending on the impact of these weather conditions, and if our losses from business interruption or property damage that result from such weather conditions exceed the amount for which we are insured, our results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected.

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We may be more vulnerable to the effects of a public health catastrophe than other businesses due to the nature of our patients, and a regional or global socio-political or other catastrophic event could severely disrupt our business.

 

We believe that the majority of our patients are individuals with complex medical challenges, many of whom may be more vulnerable than the general public during a pandemic or other public health catastrophe. Our employees are also at greater risk of contracting contagious diseases due to their increased exposure to vulnerable patients. For example, if another pandemic were to occur, we could suffer significant losses to our consumer population or a reduction in the availability of our employees and, at a high cost, be required to hire replacements for affected workers. Enrollment for our services could experience sharp declines if families decide healthcare workers should not be brought into their homes during a health pandemic. Local, regional or national governments might limit or ban public interactions to halt or delay the spread of diseases causing business disruptions and the temporary closure of our centers. Accordingly, certain public health catastrophes could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Other unforeseen events, including acts of violence, war, terrorism and other international, regional or local instability or conflicts (including labor issues), embargoes, natural disasters such as earthquakes, whether occurring in the United States or abroad, could restrict or disrupt our operations. Enrollment in our Support Services or day health centers, for example, could experience sharp declines as patients and their families may avoid venturing out in public as a result of one or more of these events.

 

We depend on the services of our executive officers and other key employees.

 

We depend greatly on the efforts of our executive officers and other key employees to manage our operations. We believe future success will depend upon our ability to continue to attract, motivate and retain highly skilled managerial, sales and marketing, divisional, regional and agency director personnel. The loss or departure of any one of these executives or other key employees could have a material adverse effect on our business and consolidated financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Our ability to use our net operating losses to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.

 

In general, under Section 382 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change net operating losses (“NOLs”) and interest expense carryovers to offset future taxable income. A Section 382 “ownership change” generally occurs if one or more stockholders or groups of stockholders who own at least 5% of our stock increase their ownership by more than 50 percentage points over their lowest ownership percentage within a rolling three-year period. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws. As of December 30, 2023, we had $21.2 million of U.S. federal net operating loss carryforwards and $380.1 million of state and local net operating loss carryforwards. In addition, as of December 30, 2023, we had an interest expense carryover of $339.0 million for federal purposes and in some states. Our ability to utilize NOLs and our interest expense carryovers may be currently subject to limitations due to prior ownership changes. In addition, future changes in our stock ownership, some of which are outside of our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code, further limiting our ability to utilize NOLs or interest expense carryovers arising prior to such ownership change in the future. There is also a risk that due to statutory or regulatory changes, such as suspensions on the use of NOLs, or other unforeseen reasons, our existing NOLs could expire or otherwise be unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities. We have recorded a full valuation allowance against the deferred tax assets attributable to our federal and certain state NOLs and interest carryovers.

 

Unanticipated changes in tax law or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns could adversely affect our consolidated results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows.

 

We are subject to taxes by U.S. federal, state and local tax authorities. Our future effective tax rates could be subject to volatility or adversely affected by a number of factors, including:

 

allocation of expenses to and among different state taxing jurisdictions;
changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities;
expected timing and amount of the release of any tax valuation allowances;
tax effects of stock-based compensation;
costs related to intercompany restructurings;
future acquisitions or dispositions;
changes in tax laws, tax treaties, regulations or interpretations thereof; or

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lower than anticipated future earnings in jurisdictions where we have lower statutory tax rates and higher than anticipated future earnings in jurisdictions where we have higher statutory tax rates.

In addition, we may be subject to audits of our income, sales and other taxes by U.S. federal, state and local tax authorities. Outcomes from these audits could have an adverse effect on our consolidated results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows.

 

Risks Related to Our Regulatory Framework

 

Healthcare reform has initiated significant changes to the U.S. healthcare system.

 

Various healthcare reform provisions became law upon enactment of the ACA. The reforms contained in the ACA have impacted each of our businesses in some manner. Several of the reforms are very significant and could ultimately change the nature of our services, the methods of payment for our services, and the underlying regulatory environment. The reforms include the possible modifications to the conditions of qualification for payment, bundling payments to cover both acute and post-acute care, and the imposition of enrollment limitations on new providers.

 

The ACA also provides for reductions to the annual market basket payment updates for home health agencies, which could result in lower reimbursement than in preceding years, and additional annual “productivity adjustment” reductions to the annual market basket payment update as determined by CMS for home health agencies.

 

Further, the ACA mandates changes to home health benefits under Medicare. For home health, the ACA mandates creation of a value-based purchasing program, development of quality measures, a decrease in home health reimbursement that began with federal fiscal year 2014 and was phased-in over a four-year period, and a reduction in the outlier cap. In addition, the ACA requires the Secretary of HHS to test different models for delivery of care, some of which would involve home health services. It also requires the Secretary to establish a national pilot program for integrated care for patients with certain conditions, bundling payment for acute hospital care, physician services, outpatient hospital services (including emergency department services), and post-acute care services, which would include home health. The Secretary is also required to conduct a study to evaluate costs and quality of care among efficient home health agencies regarding access to care and treating Medicare beneficiaries with varying severity levels of illness and provide a report to the U.S. Congress.

 

For hospice, the ACA required state Medicaid benefits for children to include hospice care with disease-modifying treatment. In addition, the ACA mandates the creation of a hospice quality reporting program, ensuring public reporting of hospice quality data. Hospices failing to submit quality data will incur a 2% reduction in hospice reimbursements for the following year. The ACA also requires a reduction in the market basket index, which beginning in 2013 is reduced by a productivity adjustment that fluctuates every year and an addition adjustment of 0.3%, reducing the Medicare hospice payment. These reductions in the market basket index came to an end in fiscal year 2021. For fiscal year 2024, CMS increased the hospice market basket rate by 3.3% and implemented a productivity adjustment of -0.2% resulting in a net hospice increase for fiscal year 2024 of 3.1%. For patients enrolled in hospice for more than six months, the ACA mandates a face-to-face visit with a physician or nurse practitioner to confirm continued need for hospice enrollment. Potential efforts in the U.S. Congress to repeal, amend, modify, or retract funding for various aspects of the ACA create additional uncertainty about the ultimate impact of the ACA on us and the healthcare industry.

 

In addition, a primary goal of healthcare reform is to reduce costs, which includes reductions in the reimbursement paid to us and other healthcare providers. Moreover, healthcare reform could negatively impact insurance companies, other third-party payers, our patients, as well as other healthcare providers, which may in turn negatively impact our business. As such, healthcare reforms and changes resulting from the ACA (including any repeal, amendment, modification or retraction thereof), as well as other similar healthcare reforms, including any potential change in the nature of services we provide, the methods or amount of payment we receive for such services, and the underlying regulatory environment, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

We conduct business in a heavily regulated industry, and changes in regulations, the enforcement of these regulations, or violations of regulations may result in increased costs or sanctions that reduce our revenues and profitability.

 

In the ordinary course of our business, we are regularly subject to inquiries and audits by federal and state agencies that oversee applicable healthcare program participation and payment regulations. We also are subject to government investigations. We believe that the regulatory environment surrounding most segments of the healthcare industry remains intense. The extensive federal and state regulations affecting the healthcare industry include, but are not limited to, regulations relating to licensure, billing, provision of services,

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conduct of operations, allowable costs, and prices for services, facility staffing requirements, qualifications and licensure of staff, environmental and occupational health and safety, and the confidentiality and security of health-related information. In particular, various laws, including the Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, anti-fraud, and anti-abuse amendments codified under the Social Security Act prohibit certain business practices and relationships that might affect the provision and cost of healthcare services reimbursable under Medicare and Medicaid, including the payment or receipt of remuneration for the referral of patients whose care will be paid by Medicare or other governmental programs. Sanctions for violating those anti-kickback, anti-fraud, and anti-abuse amendments include criminal penalties, civil sanctions, fines, and possible exclusion from government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

 

Federal and state governments continue to pursue intensive enforcement policies resulting in a significant number of investigations, inspections, audits, citations of regulatory deficiencies, and other regulatory sanctions including demands for refund of overpayments, terminations from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, bans on Medicare and Medicaid payments for new admissions, and civil monetary penalties or criminal penalties. We expect audits under the CMS RAC program, the CMS TPE program, the UPIC program and other federal and state audits evaluating the medical necessity of services to further intensify the regulatory environment surrounding the healthcare industry as third-party firms engaged by CMS and others conduct extensive reviews of claims data and medical and other records to identify improper payments to healthcare providers under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. If we fail to comply with the extensive laws, regulations and prohibitions applicable to our businesses, we could become ineligible to receive government program reimbursement, suffer civil or criminal penalties, or be required to make significant changes to our operations. In addition, we could be forced to expend considerable resources responding to investigations, audits or other enforcement actions related to these laws, regulations or prohibitions. Failure of our staff to satisfy applicable licensure requirements, or of our home health and hospice operations to satisfy applicable licensure and certification requirements could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

We are unable to predict the future course of federal and state regulation or legislation, including Medicare and Medicaid statutes and regulations, or the intensity of federal and state enforcement actions. Changes in the regulatory framework, including those associated with healthcare reform, and sanctions from various enforcement actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

Many states have CON laws or other regulatory provisions that may adversely impact our ability to expand into new markets and thereby limit our ability to grow and increase revenue.

 

Many states have enacted CON or POA laws that require prior state approval to offer new or expanded healthcare services or open new healthcare facilities or expand services at existing facilities. In such states, expansion by existing providers or entry into the market by new providers is permitted only where a given amount of unmet need exists, resulting either from population increases or a reduction in competing providers. These states ration the entry of new providers or services and the expansion of existing providers or services in their markets through a CON or other approval process, which is periodically evaluated and updated as required by applicable state law. The process is intended to promote comprehensive healthcare planning, assist in providing high-quality healthcare at the lowest possible cost and avoid unnecessary duplication by ensuring that only those healthcare facilities, services and operations that are needed will be built and opened. We operate home health centers and/or hospice services in the following CON states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. In every state where required, our home health offices, hospice centers and branch locations possess a license and/or CON issued by the state health authority that determines the local service areas for the home health office, hospice office or branch location.

 

In general, the process for opening a home health office, branch location or hospice begins by a provider submitting an application for licensure and certification to the state and federal regulatory bodies, and the completion of both an initial licensure and certification survey, which is followed by a testing period of transmitting data from the applicant to CMS. Once this process is complete, the provider receives a provider agreement and corresponding number and can begin billing for services that it provides unless a CON is required. For those states that require a CON, the provider must also complete a separate application process before billing can commence and receive required approvals for capital expenditures exceeding amounts above prescribed thresholds. Our costs of obtaining a CON in any new CON state in which we seek to operate could be significant, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain the CONs or other required approvals in the future. Our failure or inability to obtain a required CON, license or any necessary approvals could adversely affect our ability to expand into new markets and to expand our services and facilities in existing markets. Furthermore, if a CON or other prior approval upon which we relied to invest in a healthcare center or other facility were to be revoked or lost through an appeal process, we may not be able to recover the value of our investment.

 

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CMS and state Medicaid agencies may, for a period of time, impose a moratorium against additional Medicaid enrollment for a particular type of service, upon a determination that a moratorium is necessary to prevent fraud, waste or abuse, or to limit an over-abundance of a type of Medicaid provider within a state. For example, on July 31, 2013, CMS implemented a six-month moratorium on new Medicare (and Medicaid) home health agencies in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Illinois’ Cook County. The moratorium on enrollment of additional home health agencies in the Medicare (and Medicaid programs) was a way to combat fraud, waste and abuse, while assuring patient access to care. Over the years, CMS has repeatedly renewed and extended the moratorium to the entire states of Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Texas.

 

The CMS moratoria on new Medicare home health agencies were lifted on January 1, 2019; however, Florida requested that CMS extend the moratorium on new home health agency enrollments into its Medicaid program. Florida’s moratorium on Medicaid home health agency provider enrollment ended on August 30, 2021. In addition, we cannot predict whether any other states may adopt a similar Medicaid moratorium. A moratorium in any state in which we seek to, or currently, operate may prevent us from introducing, or disposing of, operations in that state, respectively, which may impair our future expansion or divestiture opportunities in some states.

 

We face and are currently subject to reviews, audits and investigations under our contracts with federal and state government agencies and other payers, and these reviews, audits and investigations could have adverse findings that may negatively impact our business.

 

As a result of our participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs we face and are currently subject to various governmental reviews, audits, and investigations to verify our compliance with these programs and applicable laws and regulations. An increasing level of governmental and private resources are being devoted to the investigation of allegations of fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and federal and state regulatory authorities are taking an increasingly strict view of the requirements imposed on healthcare providers by the Social Security Act, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and other applicable laws. We are routinely subject to audits under various government programs, including the RAC program, the SMRC program, the TPE program and the UPIC program, in which CMS engages third-party firms to conduct extensive reviews of claims data and medical and other records to identify potential improper payments to healthcare providers under the Medicare program.

 

In addition, we, like other healthcare providers, are subject to ongoing investigations by the OIG, the United States DOJ and State Attorneys General into the billing of services provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients, including whether such services were properly documented and billed, whether services provided were medically necessary, and general compliance with conditions of participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Private pay sources such as third-party insurance and managed care entities also often reserve the right to conduct audits. Our costs to respond to and defend any such reviews, audits and investigations are significant and are likely to increase in the current enforcement environment. These audits and investigations may require us to refund or retroactively adjust amounts that have been paid under the relevant government program or from other payers. Further, an adverse review, audit or investigation could result in other adverse consequences, particularly if the underlying conduct is found to be pervasive or systemic. These consequences include: (1) state or federal agencies imposing significant fines, penalties and other sanctions on us; (2) loss of our right to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs or one or more third-party payer networks; (3) indemnity claims asserted by patients and others for which we provide services; and (4) damage to our reputation in various markets, which could adversely affect our ability to attract patients and employees. If they were to occur, these consequences could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

We are subject to extensive and complex federal and state government laws and regulations that govern and restrict our relationships with physicians and other referral sources.

 

The Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, the FCA and similar state laws materially restrict our relationships with physicians and other referral sources. We have a variety of financial relationships with referral sources who either refer or influence the referral of patients to our healthcare facilities, and these laws govern those relationships. The OIG has enacted safe harbor regulations that outline practices deemed protected from prosecution under the Anti-Kickback Statute.

 

On November 20, 2020, the OIG published its final rule revising the safe harbors to the Anti-Kickback Statute, aiming to reduce the regulatory barriers to care coordination and accelerate the transformation of the health care system into one that better pays for value and promotes care coordination. The OIG final rule implements seven new safe harbors and modifies four existing safe harbors. For example, the final rule clarifies how durable medical equipment companies may participate in protected care coordination arrangements involving digital health technology; modifies the existing safe harbor for personal services and management contracts to add flexibility for certain outcomes-based payments and part-time arrangements; expands and modifies mileage limits for local transportation for rural areas; and broadens the new safe harbor for cybersecurity technology and services to cover remuneration in the form of

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cybersecurity-related hardware. These revisions to the Anti-Kickback Statute safe harbors went into effect on January 19, 2021. While we endeavor to comply with the safe harbors, most of our current arrangements, including with physicians and other referral sources, may not qualify for safe harbor protection. Failure to qualify for a safe harbor does not mean the arrangement necessarily violates the Anti-Kickback Statute but may subject the arrangement to greater scrutiny. However, we cannot offer assurance that practices outside of a safe harbor will not be found to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.

 

Any financial relationships with referring physicians and their immediate family members must comply with the Stark Law by meeting an exception. We attempt to structure our relationships to meet an exception to the Stark Law, but the regulations implementing the exceptions are detailed and complex, and we cannot provide assurance that every relationship complies fully with the Stark Law. Unlike the Anti-Kickback Statute, failure to meet an exception under the Stark Law may result in a violation of the Stark Law, even if such violation is technical in nature.

 

Additionally, if we violate the Anti-Kickback Statute or the Stark Law, or if we improperly bill for our services, we may be found to violate the FCA, either under a suit brought by the government or by a private person under a qui tam, or “whistleblower,” lawsuit.

 

If we fail to comply with the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, the FCA or other applicable laws and regulations, we could be subject to liabilities, including civil penalties (including the loss of our licenses to operate one or more facilities or healthcare activities), exclusion of one or more facilities or healthcare activities from participation in the Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal and state healthcare programs, and, for violations of certain laws and regulations, criminal penalties.

 

We do not always have the benefit of significant regulatory or judicial interpretation of these laws and regulations. In the future, different interpretations or enforcement of these laws and regulations could subject our current or past practices to allegations of impropriety or illegality or could require us to make changes in our facilities, equipment, personnel, services, capital expenditure programs and operating expenses. A determination that we have violated these laws, or the public announcement that we are being investigated for possible violations of these laws, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity, and our business reputation could suffer significantly. In addition, other legislation or regulations at the federal or state level may be adopted that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

If we are found to have violated HIPAA, the HITECH Act, the Omnibus Rule or any other applicable privacy and security laws and regulations, as well as contractual obligations, we could be subject to sanctions, fines, damages and other additional civil or criminal penalties, which could increase our liabilities, harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operation and liquidity.

 

There are a number of federal and state laws, rules and regulations, as well as contractual obligations, relating to the protection, collection, storage, use, retention, security, disclosure, transfer and other processing of confidential, sensitive and personal information, including certain patient health information, such as patient records. Existing laws and regulations are constantly evolving, and new laws and regulations that apply to our business are being introduced at every level of government in the United States. In many cases, these laws and regulations apply not only to third-party transactions, but also to transfers of information between or among us, our affiliates and other parties with whom we conduct business. These laws and regulations may be interpreted and applied differently over time and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it is possible that they will be interpreted and applied in ways that may have a material adverse effect on our business. We monitor legal developments in data privacy and security regulations at the local, state and federal level, however, the regulatory framework for data privacy and security worldwide is continuously evolving and developing and, as a result, interpretation and implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future.

 

The management of PHI is subject to several regulations at the federal level, including HIPAA and the HITECH Act. The HIPAA privacy and security regulations protect medical records and other personal health information by limiting their use and disclosure, giving individuals the right to access, amend, and seek accounting of their own health information, and limiting most uses and disclosures of health information to the minimum amount reasonably necessary to accomplish the intended purpose. The HITECH Act strengthened HIPAA enforcement provisions and authorized State Attorneys General to bring civil actions for HIPAA violations. It permits the HHS to conduct audits of HIPAA compliance and impose significant civil monetary penalties even if we did not know or reasonably could not have known about the violation. The Omnibus Rule extended certain privacy and security regulations to business associates and their subcontractors that handle protected health information and imposed new requirements on HIPAA business associate contracts. The Omnibus Rule also clarified a covered entity’s (which is a healthcare provider, a health plan or healthcare clearinghouse) notification and reporting requirements in the event of a breach of unsecured protected health information. This reporting obligation supplements state laws that also may require notification in the event of a breach of personal information. If we are found to have violated the HIPAA privacy or security regulations or other federal or state laws protecting the confidentiality of patient health or personal information,

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including but not limited to the HITECH Act and the Omnibus Rule, we could be subject to sanctions, fines, damages and other additional civil or criminal penalties, including litigation with those affected, which could increase our liabilities, harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity.

 

The federal government is also promoting the efficient exchange of electronic health information to improve health care. The 21st Century Cures Act prohibits information blocking by health care providers and certain other entities. Information blocking is defined as engaging in activities that are likely to interfere with, prevent or materially discourage access, exchange or use of electronic health information, subject to limited exceptions. Initiatives related to health care technology and interoperability may require changes to our operations, impose new and complex obligations on us, affect our relationships with other providers, vendors and other third parties and require investments in infrastructure. We may be subject to penalties for failure to comply.

 

Numerous other federal and state laws protect the confidentiality, privacy, availability, integrity and security of PHI. For example, various states, such as California, Massachusetts, and Washington have implemented privacy laws and regulations, such as the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, that impose restrictive requirements regulating the use and disclosure of personally identifiable information, including PHI. These laws in many cases are more restrictive than, and may not be preempted by, the HIPAA rules and may be subject to varying interpretations by courts and government agencies, creating complex compliance issues and potentially exposing us to additional expense, adverse publicity and liability. We also expect that there will continue to be new laws, regulations and industry standards concerning privacy, data protection and information security proposed and enacted in various jurisdictions. The U.S. Congress has considered, but not yet passed, several comprehensive federal data privacy bills over the past few years, such as the CONSENT Act, which was intended to be similar to the landmark 2018 European Union General Data Protection Regulation. We expect federal data privacy laws to continue to evolve.

 

At the state and local level, there is increased focus on regulating the collection, storage, use, retention, security, disclosure, transfer and other processing of confidential, sensitive and personal information. In recent years, we have seen significant changes to data privacy regulations across the U.S., including the enactment of the CCPA, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA creates new consumer rights, and corresponding obligations on covered businesses, relating to the access to, deletion of and sharing of personal information collected by covered businesses, including a consumer’s right to opt out of certain sales of the consumer's personal information. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for certain data breaches that result in the loss of personal information. This private right of action may increase the likelihood of, and risks associated with, data breach litigation. It remains unclear how various provisions of the CCPA will be interpreted and enforced. Additionally, California voters approved a new privacy law, the California Privacy Rights Act (the “CPRA”), in the November 3, 2020 election. Beginning on January 1, 2023, the CPRA significantly modified the CCPA, including by expanding consumers’ rights with respect to certain sensitive personal information. The CPRA also creates a new state agency that will be vested with authority to implement and enforce the CCPA and the CPRA. New legislation proposed or enacted in various other states will continue to shape the data privacy environment nationally. Certain state laws may be more stringent or broader in scope, or offer greater individual rights, with respect to confidential, sensitive and personal information than federal, international or other state laws, and such laws may differ from each other, which may complicate compliance efforts.

 

In addition, all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted breach notification laws that may require us to notify patients, employees or regulators in the event of unauthorized access to or disclosure of personal or confidential information experienced by us or our service providers. These laws are not consistent, and compliance in the event of a widespread data breach is difficult and may be costly. Moreover, states have been frequently amending existing laws, requiring attention to changing regulatory requirements. We also may be contractually required to notify patients or other counterparties of a security breach. Although we may have contractual protections with our service providers, any actual or perceived security breach could harm our reputation and brand, expose us to potential liability or require us to expend significant resources on data security and in responding to any such actual or perceived breach. Any contractual protections we may have from our service providers may not be sufficient to adequately protect us from any such liabilities and losses, and we may be unable to enforce any such contractual protections. In addition to government regulation, privacy advocates and industry groups have and may in the future propose self-regulatory standards from time to time. These and other industry standards may legally or contractually apply to us, or we may elect to comply with such standards.

 

Complying with these various laws, rules, regulations and standards, and with any new laws or regulations changes to existing laws, could cause us to incur substantial costs that are likely to increase over time, require us to change our business practices in a manner adverse to our business, divert resources from other initiatives and projects, and restrict the way products and services involving data are offered, all of which may have a material adverse effect on our business. For example, we have incurred and expect to continue to incur additional costs to comply with the CCPA and other similar regulations. However, in the future we may be unable to make such changes and modifications to our business practices in a commercially reasonable manner, or at all. Given the rapid development of

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cybersecurity and data privacy laws, we expect to encounter inconsistent interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations, as well as frequent changes to these laws and regulations which may expose us to significant penalties or liability for non-compliance, the possibility of fines, lawsuits (including class action privacy litigation), regulatory investigations, criminal or civil sanctions, audits, adverse media coverage, public censure, other claims, significant costs for remediation and damage to our reputation, or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business and operations. Any inability to adequately address data privacy or security-related concerns, even if unfounded, or to comply with applicable laws, regulations, standards and other obligations relating to data privacy and security, could result in additional cost and liability to us, damage our relationships with patients and have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

We make public statements about our use and disclosure of personal information through our privacy policies, information provided on our website and press statements. Although we endeavor to comply with our public statements and documentation, we may at times fail to do so or be alleged to have failed to do so. The publication of our privacy policies and other statements that provide promises and assurances about data privacy and security can subject us to potential government or legal action if they are found to be deceptive, unfair or misrepresentative of our actual practices. Moreover, from time to time, concerns may be expressed about whether our products and services compromise the privacy of patients and others. Any concerns about our data privacy and security practices, even if unfounded, could damage the reputation of our businesses, discourage potential patients from our products and services and have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

We are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations that govern our employment practices, including minimum wage, living wage, and paid time-off requirements. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations, or changes to these laws and regulations that increase our employment related expenses, could adversely impact our operations.

 

We are required to comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to employment, including occupational safety and health requirements, wage and hour and other compensation requirements, employee benefits, providing leave and sick pay, employment insurance, proper classification of workers as employees or independent contractors, immigration and equal employment opportunity laws. These laws and regulations can vary significantly among jurisdictions and can be highly technical. Notably, we are subject to the California Labor Code pursuant to which plaintiffs have filed representative actions under the California Private Attorney General Act seeking statutory penalties for alleged violations related to calculation of overtime pay, errors in wage statements, and meal and rest break violations, among other things. Costs and expenses related to these requirements are a significant operating expense and may increase as a result of, among other things, changes in federal, state or local laws or regulations, or the interpretation thereof, requiring employers to provide specified benefits or rights to employees, increases in the minimum wage and local living wage ordinances, increases in the level of existing benefits or the lengthening of periods for which unemployment benefits are available. We may not be able to offset any increased costs and expenses. Furthermore, any failure to comply with these laws requirements, including even a seemingly minor infraction, can result in significant penalties which could harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business. In addition, certain individuals and entities, known as excluded persons, are prohibited from receiving payment for their services rendered to Medicaid, Medicare and other federal and state healthcare program beneficiaries. If we inadvertently hire or contract with an excluded person, or if any of our current employees or contractors becomes an excluded person in the future without our knowledge, we may be subject to substantial civil penalties, including up to $20,000 for each item or service furnished by the excluded person to a federal or state healthcare program beneficiary, an assessment of up to three times the amount claimed and exclusion from the program. Because we employ an average of at least 50 full-time employees in a calendar year, we are required to offer a minimum level of health coverage for 95% of our full-time employees in 2024 or be subject to an annual penalty.

 

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

 

We may issue preferred stock whose terms could adversely affect the voting power or value of our common stock.

 

Our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation (the “Amended Charter”) authorizes us to issue, without the approval of our stockholders, one or more classes or series of preferred stock having such designation, preferences, limitations and relative rights, including preferences over our common stock with respect to dividends and distributions, as our Board of Directors may determine. The terms of one or more classes or series of preferred stock could adversely impact the voting power or value of our common stock. For example, we might grant holders of preferred stock the right to elect some number of our directors in all events or on the happening of specified events or the right to veto specified transactions. Similarly, the repurchase or redemption rights or liquidation preferences we might assign to holders of preferred stock could affect the residual value of the common stock.

 

We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.

 

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We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business, and therefore we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. As a result of our current dividend policy, you may not receive any return on an investment in our common stock unless you sell our common stock for a price greater than that which you paid for it. Any future determination to declare and pay cash dividends, if any, will be entirely at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend upon then-existing conditions, including our earnings, capital requirements, results of operations, financial condition, business prospects and any other factors that our Board of Directors considers relevant. Our ability to pay dividends depends on our receipt of cash dividends from our operating subsidiaries, which may further restrict our ability to pay dividends as a result of the laws of their jurisdiction of organization or agreements of our subsidiaries, including agreements governing our current and future indebtedness.

 

We take advantage of certain “controlled company” exemptions to the corporate governance rules for publicly listed companies, which could make our common stock less attractive to some investors or otherwise harm our stock price.

 

Because we qualify as a “controlled company” under the corporate governance rules for publicly listed companies, we are not required to have a majority of our Board of Directors be independent under the applicable rules of Nasdaq, nor are we required to have a compensation committee or a corporate governance and nominating committee comprised entirely of independent directors. Our Board of Directors is permitted to not be composed of a majority of independent directors. We currently rely on the exemption to the requirement that our director nominations be made, or recommended to our full Board of Directors, by our independent directors or by a nominations committee that consists entirely of independent directors. Should the interests of Bain Capital L.P. or J.H. Whitney Capital Partners (collectively, our “Sponsors”) or their respective affiliates (the “Sponsor Affiliates”), who collectively own 68.3% of our outstanding common stock, differ from those of other stockholders, the other stockholders may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance rules for publicly listed companies. Our status as a controlled company could make our common stock less attractive to some investors or otherwise harm our stock price.

 

Our Sponsors can significantly influence our business and affairs and may have conflicts of interest with us in the future.

 

The Sponsor Affiliates collectively own approximately 68.3% of our common stock. Our Sponsors are in the business of making investments in companies and may from time to time acquire and hold interests in businesses that compete directly or indirectly with us. One or both of our Sponsors may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. So long as our Sponsors, or funds controlled by or associated with our Sponsors, continue to own a significant amount of the outstanding shares of our common stock, even if such amount is less than 50%, our Sponsors will continue to be able to strongly influence us. Our Amended Charter provides that none of our Sponsors or any of their affiliates will have any duty to refrain from (i) engaging in a corporate opportunity in the same or similar lines of business in which we or our affiliates now engage or propose to engage or (ii) otherwise competing with us or our affiliates.

 

As a public company, we incur significant increased expenses and administrative burdens, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We face increased insurance, legal, accounting, and other corporate related costs and expenses as a public company. For example, our director and officer liability insurance policy costs increased significantly upon becoming a public company.

 

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”), including the requirements of Section 404, as well as rules and regulations subsequently implemented by the SEC, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and the rules and regulations promulgated and to be promulgated thereunder, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) and the securities exchanges, impose additional reporting and other obligations on public companies. Compliance with public company requirements has increased costs and made certain activities more time-consuming. A number of those requirements require us to carry out activities we had not done previously. For example, we created new board committees and adopted new internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. In addition, additional expenses associated with SEC reporting requirements have been and will continue to be incurred. Furthermore, if any issues in complying with those requirements are identified (for example, if we or our independent registered public accounting firm identify a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting), we could incur additional costs to remediate those issues, and the existence of those issues could adversely affect our reputation or investor perceptions of it. Risks associated with our status as a public company may make it more difficult to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our Board of Directors or as executive officers. The additional reporting and other obligations imposed by these rules and regulations increase legal and financial compliance costs and the costs of related legal, accounting and administrative activities. These increased costs require us to divert a significant amount of money that could otherwise be used to expand

46


 

our business and achieve certain strategic objectives. Advocacy efforts by stockholders and third parties may also prompt additional changes in governance and reporting requirements, which could further increase costs.

 

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which is likely to negatively affect our business and the market price of our common stock.

 

Effective internal control over financial reporting is necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and prevent fraud. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in our implementation could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing conducted by us, or any testing conducted by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which is likely to negatively affect our business and the market price of our common stock.

 

We are required to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and a report by our independent registered public accounting firm on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of year-end. In particular, we are required to perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal controls over financial reporting to allow management to report on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting, as required by Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We are also subject to the compliance requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires our independent registered public accounting firm to issue an annual report that addresses the effectiveness of internal control over financing reporting and has resulted in us incurring substantial expenses and expending significant management efforts to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which we will continue.

 

As of December 30, 2023, we did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting attributable to an identified material weakness. We describe this material weakness in Part II, Item 9A, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. A material weakness is defined as a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected and corrected on a timely basis. The material weakness will not be considered remediated until the applicable new or enhanced controls operate for a sufficient period and management has concluded, through testing, that the related controls are operating effectively. As remediation has not yet been completed, the material weakness continued to exist with respect to our internal control over financial reporting as of December 30, 2023. If our remedial measures are insufficient to address the material weakness, or if one or more additional material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting are discovered or occur in the future, our consolidated financial statements may contain material misstatements and we could be required to restate our financial results, which could, in turn, harm our reputation or otherwise cause a decline in investor confidence and in the market price of our stock.

 

We cannot assure you that we will at all times in the future be able to report that our internal controls are effective. Material weaknesses in the design and operation of the internal control over financial reporting of businesses that we acquire could have a material adverse effect on our business and operating results. If we are not able to comply with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or if we identify or our independent registered public accounting firm identifies additional deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses, the market price of our common stock could decline and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC, or other regulatory authorities, which would require additional financial and management resources.

 

Anti-takeover provisions in our governing documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of our company more difficult, limit attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management and limit the market price of our common stock.

 

Our Amended Charter, second amended and restated bylaws (the “Amended Bylaws”) and Delaware law contain provisions that could have the effect of rendering more difficult, delaying or preventing an acquisition deemed undesirable by our Board of Directors. Among other things, our Amended Charter and/or Amended Bylaws include the following provisions:

 

a staggered board, which means that our Board of Directors is classified into three classes of directors with staggered three-year terms and directors are only able to be removed from office for cause;
limitations on convening special stockholder meetings, which could make it difficult for our stockholders to adopt desired governance changes;

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a prohibition on stockholder action by written consent from and after the date on which the Sponsors and each of their respective affiliates cease to beneficially own in the aggregate at least 50% of the outstanding shares of common stock (the “Trigger Event”);
a forum selection clause, which means certain litigation against us can only be brought in Delaware;
from and after the Trigger Event, the removal of directors only for cause and only upon the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66 2/3% in voting power of all of the then-outstanding shares of our common stock entitled to vote thereon;
from and after the Trigger Event, requiring the affirmative vote of holders of at least 66 2/3% of the voting power of all of the then outstanding shares of common stock to amend provisions of our Amended Charter relating to the management of our business, our Board of Directors, stockholder action by written consent, calling special meetings of stockholders, competition and corporate opportunities, Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”), forum selection and the liability of our directors, or to amend, alter, rescind or repeal our Amended Bylaws;
the authorization of undesignated preferred stock, the terms of which may be established and shares of which may be issued without further action by our stockholders; and
advance notice procedures, which apply for stockholders to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring matters before an annual meeting of stockholders.

These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management. We have opted out of Section 203 of the DGCL. However, our Amended Charter contains similar provisions providing that we many not engage in certain “business combinations” with any “interested stockholder” for a three-year period following the time that the stockholder became an interested stockholder, unless (i) prior to the time such stockholder became an interested stockholder, the Board of Directors approved the transaction that resulted in such stockholder becoming an interested stockholder, (ii) upon consummation of the transaction that resulted in such stockholder becoming an interested stockholder, the interested stockholder owned at least 85% of the common stock or (iii) following Board of Directors approval, the business combination receives the approval of the holders of at least two-thirds of our outstanding common stock not held by such interested stockholder at an annual or special meeting of stockholders. Our Amended Charter provides that the Sponsors and their respective affiliates, and any of their respective direct or indirect transferees and any group as to which such persons are a party, do not constitute “interested stockholders” for purposes of this provision.

 

Any provision of our Amended Charter, Amended Bylaws or Delaware law that has the effect of delaying, preventing or deterring a change in control could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our common stock and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our common stock.

 

Our Amended Charter designates specific courts as the exclusive forum for certain litigation that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ abilities to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.

 

Our Amended Charter provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the sole and exclusive forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, for (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees or stockholders to us or our stockholders, creditors or other constituents, or a claim of aiding and abetting any such breach of fiduciary duty, (3) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our directors or officers or other employees or stockholders arising pursuant to, or any action to interpret, apply, enforce any right, obligation or remedy under or determine the validity of, any provision of the DGCL or our Amended Charter or Amended Bylaws or as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, (4) any action asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, or (5) any other action asserting an “internal corporate claim” under the DGCL shall be the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if and only if the Court of Chancery does not have subject matter jurisdiction, another state court sitting in the State of Delaware or, if and only if neither the Court of Chancery nor any state court sitting in the State of Delaware has subject matter jurisdiction, then the federal district court for the District of Delaware) (the “Delaware Forum Provision”). Notwithstanding the foregoing, our Amended Charter provides that the Delaware Forum Provision will not apply to any actions arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act. Section 27 of the Exchange Act creates exclusive federal jurisdiction over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the rules and regulations thereunder. Our Amended Charter further provides that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district court for the District of Delaware shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, be the sole and exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act (the “Federal Forum Provision”).

 

The Delaware Forum Provision and the Federal Forum Provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and

48


 

our directors, officers and other employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find the Delaware Forum Provision or the Federal Forum Provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could harm our business, financial condition or results of operations. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in our shares of capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and consented to the Delaware Forum Provision and the Federal Forum Provision but will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.

 

Our Amended Charter provides that the doctrine of “corporate opportunity” does not apply with respect to any officer, director or stockholder who is not employed by us or our subsidiaries.

 

Our Amended Charter provides that the doctrine of “corporate opportunity” does not apply with respect to the Sponsors or any of their respective officers, directors, agents, stockholders, members, partners, affiliates and subsidiaries (other than us and our subsidiaries). The doctrine of corporate opportunity generally provides that a corporate fiduciary may not develop an opportunity using corporate resources or information obtained in their corporate capacity for their personal advantage, acquire an interest adverse to that of the corporation or acquire property that is reasonably incident to the present or prospective business of the corporation or in which the corporation has a present or expectancy interest, unless that opportunity is first presented to the corporation and the corporation chooses not to pursue that opportunity. The doctrine of corporate opportunity is intended to preclude officers, directors or other fiduciaries from personally benefiting from opportunities that belong to the corporation. Our Amended Charter does, to the extent permitted by Delaware law, renounce any interest or expectancy that we have in, or right to be offered an opportunity to participate in, specified business opportunities that are from time to time presented to the Sponsors or any of their respective officers, directors, agents, stockholders, members, partners, affiliates and subsidiaries (other than us and our subsidiaries), including any of the foregoing who serves as a director or officer of the Company. Such person will therefore have no duty to communicate or present corporate opportunities to us, and will have the right to either hold any corporate opportunity for their (and their affiliates’) own account and benefit or to recommend, assign or otherwise transfer such corporate opportunity to persons other than us, including to any officers, directors or stockholders or their respective affiliates (other than those who are employees of the Company or its subsidiaries).

 

As a result, the Sponsors or any of their respective officers, directors, agents, stockholders, members, partners, affiliates and subsidiaries (other than us and our subsidiaries) are not prohibited from operating or investing in competing businesses. We therefore may find ourselves in competition with such person, and we may not have knowledge of, or be able to pursue, transactions that could potentially be beneficial to us. Accordingly, we may lose a corporate opportunity or suffer competitive harm, which could negatively impact our business or prospects.

 

If securities analysts do not publish research or reports about our company, or if they issue unfavorable commentary about us or our industry or downgrade our common stock, the price of our common stock could decline.

 

The market for our common stock depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us, our business or our industry. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade their opinions about our common stock, publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about us, or cease publishing about us regularly, demand for our common stock could decrease, which might cause our share price and trading volume to decline significantly. Additionally, if securities or industry analysts publish negative information regarding the industry generally or certain competitors of ours, this may affect the market price of all stocks in our sector, even if unrelated to our performance.

 

If our operating and financial performance in any given period does not meet or exceed the guidance that we provide to the public, the market price of our common stock may decline.

 

We have provided public guidance on our expected operating and financial results for future periods, which is composed of forward-looking statements subject to the risks and uncertainties described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our actual results may not always be in line with or exceed any guidance we have provided, especially in times of economic uncertainty. If, in the future, our operating or financial results for a particular period do not meet any guidance we provide or the expectations of investment analysts, or if we reduce our guidance for future periods, the market price of our common stock may decline.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

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Item 1C. Cybersecurity.

 

Governance

 

Management’s Role Managing Risk

 

Aveanna’s cybersecurity program and related policies are managed by a dedicated Assistant Vice President (“AVP”) of Cybersecurity who reports to our Chief Information Officer (“CIO”). The AVP of Cybersecurity and his team is responsible for assessing, identifying and managing enterprise-wide cybersecurity needs. The AVP of Cybersecurity and his team monitor breach attempts and other cyber-related incidents, both directed at the Company and those impacting other industry participants, to identify new and emerging risks to be added to our Vulnerability Management Framework, which is discussed below.

The AVP of Cybersecurity works directly with the CIO to create and maintain cyber policies, standards, and processes that support the Company’s overall strategy and the current cyber environment. We believe our cybersecurity program and policies are aligned with industry standards and best practices, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Cybersecurity Framework. The AVP of Cybersecurity and CIO are experienced technology and cybersecurity professionals, with over 10 and 20 years of experience in information security and technology, respectively. The AVP of Cybersecurity leads periodic meetings of our chartered Cybersecurity Steering Committee, which cover key cyber threats, policy changes, and project updates. The Cybersecurity Steering Committee includes our CIO, other executive-level leaders, and key members of management. Further, the Cybersecurity Steering Committee engages an external expert to prepare a formalized evaluation on the design of, and adherence to, the Company's current cybersecurity policies.

Board of Directors Oversight

The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors is tasked with providing oversight related to cybersecurity topics. At least quarterly, the Audit Committee receives a report of any cybersecurity incidents and other key monitoring metrics from a representative of the Cybersecurity Steering Committee. For each incident, the Audit Committee is briefed on the nature of the incident, points of vulnerability, scope of the incident, and the Company's response. The Audit Committee will then communicate cyber-related issues with the Board as needed. Our Board is currently reviewing our existing cybersecurity program and related policies, including, among other things, the Board’s role within our cybersecurity risk management infrastructure.

Risk Management and Strategy

Our cybersecurity management process is based on an internally developed Intelligence Policy and a Vulnerability Management Framework. Cybersecurity risk management is currently independent of enterprise risk management. Our Vulnerability Management Framework addresses discovery, risk rating, remediation timeliness required per risk, and obligations on reoccurring third-party security products. Risks that fall outside the required remediation timeline are documented on the risk register, which is discussed during periodic Cybersecurity Steering Committee meetings.

We have in place a Security and Privacy Incident Response Plan that specifies incident classifications, reporting requirements, and which person must respond to such incidents. In most cases, cybersecurity management is handled by employees of the Company as described above, though if an incident does occur, external counsel and experts related to impacted systems or data may be engaged to supplement the Company's response.

Existing third-party relationships are monitored on a risk-by-risk basis via the Vulnerability Management Framework. Before entering into new third-party provider agreements, third-party providers and related services are subject to scrutinization and a review from the AVP of Cybersecurity’s team.

We are constantly evolving our cybersecurity strategy and responses for new and emerging threats. As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we have not encountered risks from cybersecurity threats with respect to our information systems that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our business strategy, results of operations or financial position. For more information about the cybersecurity risks we face, see the risk factor entitled “Failure to maintain the security and functionality of our information systems, or to defend against or otherwise prevent a cybersecurity attack or breach, could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and liquidity” described under “Risk Factors” contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

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Item 2. Properties.

Aveanna’s corporate headquarters is leased and is located at 400 Interstate North Parkway, Suite 1600, Atlanta, Georgia 30339. Aveanna also maintains approximately 300 leases for other offices and medical sites with various expiration terms from more than one year to over 10 years. Aveanna does not currently own any real estate.

The information in response to this Item is included in Note 13 – Commitments and Contingencies to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part II, Item 8, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

 

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Securities Market Information

Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol “AVAH”.

Holders of Record

As of March 8, 2024, there were 33 stockholders of record for our common stock. We believe we have approximately 9,000 beneficial holders of our common stock.

Dividend Policy

We have not declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business; therefore, we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare and pay dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors, subject to compliance with contractual restrictions and covenants in the agreements governing our current and future indebtedness. Any such determination will be dependent upon then-existing conditions, including our earnings, capital requirements, results of operations, financial condition, business prospects and any other factors that our Board of Directors considers relevant.

Item 6. [Reserved]

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the PSLRA, Section 27A of the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Exchange Act, about our expectations, beliefs, plans and intentions regarding our product development efforts, business, financial condition, results of operations, strategies and prospects. You can identify forward-looking statements by the fact that these statements do not relate to historical or current matters. Rather, forward-looking statements relate to anticipated or expected events, activities, trends or results. Because forward-looking statements relate to matters that have not yet occurred, these statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from any future results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Many factors could cause our actual activities or results to differ materially from the activities and results anticipated in forward-looking statements. These factors include those contained in “Item 1A — Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Forward-looking statements reflect our views only as of the date they are made. We do not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements except as required by applicable law. We intend that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbor provisions of PSLRA.

Our fiscal year ends on the Saturday that is closest to December 31 of a given year, resulting in either a 52-week or 53-week fiscal year. Our “fiscal year 2023” refers to the 52-week fiscal year ended on December 30, 2023. Our “fiscal year 2022” refers to the 52-week fiscal year ended on December 31, 2022. Our "fiscal year 2021" refers to the 52-week fiscal year ended on January 1, 2022.

Overview

We are a leading, diversified home care platform focused on providing care to medically complex, high-cost patient populations. We directly address the most pressing challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system by providing safe, high-quality care in the home, the lower cost care setting preferred by patients. Our patient-centered care delivery platform is designed to improve the quality of care our patients receive, which allows them to remain in their homes and minimizes the overutilization of high-cost care settings such as hospitals. Our clinical model is led by our caregivers, primarily skilled nurses, who provide specialized care to address the complex needs of each patient we serve across the full range of patient populations: newborns, children, adults and seniors. We have invested significantly in our platform to bring together best-in-class talent at all levels of the organization and support such talent with industry leading training, clinical programs, infrastructure and technology-enabled systems, which are increasingly essential in an evolving healthcare industry. We believe our platform creates sustainable competitive advantages that support our ability to continue driving rapid growth, both organically and through acquisitions, and positions us as the partner of choice for the patients we serve.

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Segments

We deliver our services to patients through three segments: Private Duty Services (“PDS”); Home Health & Hospice (“HHH”); and Medical Solutions (“MS”).

The following table summarizes the revenues generated by each of our segments for the fiscal years ended December 30, 2023 and December 31, 2022:

 

(dollars in thousands)

Consolidated

 

PDS

 

HHH

 

MS

 

For the fiscal year ended December 30, 2023

$

1,895,209

 

$

1,518,811

 

$

218,628

 

$

157,770

 

Percentage of consolidated revenue

 

 

 

80

%

 

12

%

 

8

%

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022

$

1,787,645

 

$

1,415,105

 

$

232,584

 

$

139,956

 

Percentage of consolidated revenue

 

 

 

79

%

 

13

%

 

8

%

PDS Segment

Private Duty Services predominantly includes private duty nursing (“PDN”) services, as well as pediatric therapy services. Our PDN patients typically enter our service as children, as our most significant referral sources for new patients are children’s hospitals. It is common for our PDN patients to continue to receive our services into adulthood, as approximately 30% of our PDN patients are over the age of 18.

Our PDN services involve the provision of clinical and non-clinical hourly care to patients in their homes, which is the preferred setting for patient care. PDN services typically last four to 24 hours a day, provided by our registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, home health aides, and other non-clinical caregivers who are focused on providing high-quality short-term and long-term clinical care to medically fragile children and adults with a wide variety of serious illnesses and conditions. Patients who typically qualify for our PDN services include those with the following conditions:

Tracheotomies or ventilator dependence;
Dependence on continuous nutritional feeding through a “G-tube” or “NG-tube”;
Dependence on intravenous nutrition;
Oxygen-dependence in conjunction with other medical needs; and
Complex medical needs such as frequent seizures.

Our PDN services include:

In-home skilled nursing services to medically fragile children and adults;
Nursing services in school settings in which our caregivers accompany patients to school;
Services to patients in our Pediatric Day Healthcare Centers (“PDHC”); and
Non-clinical care, including programs such as employer of record support services and personal care services.

Through our pediatric therapy services, we provide a valuable multidisciplinary approach that we believe serves all of a child’s therapy needs. We provide both in-clinic and home-based therapy services to our patients. Our therapy services include physical, occupational and speech services. We regularly collaborate with physicians and other community healthcare providers, which allows us to provide more comprehensive care.

HHH Segment

Our Home Health and Hospice segment predominantly includes home health services, as well as hospice and specialty program services. Our HHH patients typically enter our service as seniors, and our most significant referral sources for new patients are hospitals, physicians and long-term care facilities.

 

Our home health services involve the provision of in-home services to our patients by our clinicians, including nurses, therapists, social workers and home health aides. Our caregivers work with our patients’ physicians to deliver a personalized plan of care to our patients in their homes. Home healthcare can help our patients recover after hospitalization or surgery and assist patients in managing chronic illnesses. We also help our patients manage their medications. Through our care, we help our patients recover more fully in the comfort

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of their own homes, while remaining as independent as possible. Our home health services include: in-home skilled nursing services; physical, occupational and speech therapy; medical social services and aide services.

 

Our hospice services involve a supportive philosophy and concept of care for those nearing the end of life. Our hospice care is a positive, empowering form of care designed to provide comfort and support to our patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. The goal of hospice is to neither prolong life nor hasten death, but to help our patients live as dignified and pain-free as possible. Our hospice care is provided by a team of specially trained professionals in a variety of living situations, including at home, at the hospital, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility.

MS Segment

Through our Medical Solutions segment, we offer a comprehensive line of enteral nutrition supplies and other products to adults and children, delivered on a periodic or as-needed basis. We provide our patients with access to one of the largest selections of enteral formulas, supplies and pumps in our industry, with more than 300 nutritional formulas available. Our registered nurses, registered dietitians and customer service technicians support our patients 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, in-hospital, at-home, or remotely to help ensure that our patients have the best nutrition assessments, change order reviews and formula selection expertise.

Recent Developments

 

HHS Proposed Rule: Assuring Access to Medicaid Services

 

On April 27, 2023, HHS introduced a proposed rule titled “Assuring Access to Medicaid Services.” The proposed rule has a stated goal of improving access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries. HHS has proposed that state Medicaid agencies provide assurances that a minimum of 80% of Medicaid payments for personal care and similar services be spent on compensation to direct care workers. The proposed rule would allow states four years to implement changes required by a final rule, with extended time specified for managed care delivery systems. The proposed rule was subject to comment, and HHS specifically requested comments on the 80% threshold, related definitions and the implementation period. The public comment period concluded on July 3, 2023. The ultimate impact of any final rule, which could be adverse for periods after implementation, but could also benefit our business by improving access to services, depends on the requirements set forth in any final rule.

Important Operating Metrics

We review the following important metrics on a segment basis and not on a consolidated basis:

PDS Segment and MS Segment Operating Metrics

Volume

 

Volume represents PDS hours of care provided and MS unique patients served, which is how we measure the amount of our patient services provided. We review the number of hours of PDS care provided on a weekly basis and the number of MS unique patients served on a weekly basis. We believe volume is an important metric because it helps us understand how the Company is growing in each of these segments through strategic planning and acquisitions. We also use this metric to inform strategic decision making in determining opportunities for growth.

Revenue Rate

For our PDS and MS segments, revenue rate is calculated as revenue divided by PDS hours of care provided or the number of MS unique patients served, respectively. We believe revenue rate is an important metric because it represents the amount of revenue we receive per PDS hour of patient service or per individual MS patient transaction and helps management assess the amount of fees that we are able to bill for our services. Management uses this metric to assess how effectively we optimize reimbursement rates.

Cost of Revenue Rate

For our PDS and MS segments, cost of revenue rate is calculated as cost of revenue divided by PDS hours of care provided or the number of unique patients served, respectively. We believe cost of revenue rate is an important metric because it helps us understand

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the cost per PDS hour of patient service or per individual MS patient transaction. Management uses this metric to understand how effectively we manage labor and product costs.

Spread Rate

 

For our PDS and MS segments, spread rate represents the difference between the respective revenue rates and cost of revenue rates. Spread rate is an important metric because it helps us better understand the margins being recognized per PDS hour of patient service or per individual MS patient transaction. Management uses this metric to assess how successful we have been in optimizing reimbursement rates, managing labor and product costs, and assessing opportunities for growth.

HHH Segment Operating Metrics

Home Health Total Admissions and Home Health Episodic Admissions

Home health total admissions represents the number of new patients who have begun receiving services. We review the number of home health admissions on a daily basis because we believe it is a leading indicator of our growth. We measure home health admissions by reimbursement structure, separating them into home health episodic admissions and fee-for-service admissions (other admissions), which allows us to better understand the payer mix of our home health business.

Home Health Total Episodes

Home health total episodes represents the number of episodic admissions and episodic recertifications to capture patients who have either started to receive services or have been recertified for another episode of care. Management reviews home health total episodes on a monthly basis to understand the volume of patients who were authorized to receive care during the month.

Home Health Revenue Per Completed Episode

Home health revenue per completed episode is calculated by dividing total payments received from completed episodes by the number of completed episodes during the period. Episodic payments are determined by multiple factors including type of referral source, patient diagnoses, and utilization. Management tracks home health revenue per completed episode over time to evaluate both the clinical and financial profile of the business in a single metric.

 

Results of Operations

 

Fiscal Year Ended December 30, 2023 Compared to the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2022

 

The following table summarizes our consolidated results of operations for the fiscal years indicated:

 

 

For the fiscal years ended

 

(dollars in thousands)

December 30, 2023

 

% of Revenue

 

December 31, 2022

 

% of Revenue

 

Change

 

% Change

 

Revenue

$

1,895,209

 

 

100.0

%

$

1,787,645

 

 

100.0

%

$

107,564

 

 

6.0

%

Cost of revenue, excluding depreciation and amortization

 

1,299,777

 

 

68.6

%

 

1,234,418

 

 

69.1

%

 

65,359

 

 

5.3

%

Gross margin

$

595,432

 

 

31.4

%

$

553,227

 

 

30.9

%

$

42,205

 

 

7.6

%

Branch and regional administrative expenses

 

360,978

 

 

19.0

%

 

357,230

 

 

20.0

%

 

3,748

 

 

1.0

%

Corporate expenses

 

113,034

 

 

6.0

%

 

137,864

 

 

7.7

%

 

(24,830

)

 

-18.0

%

Goodwill impairment

 

105,136

 

 

5.5

%

 

675,346

 

 

37.8

%

 

(570,210

)

 

-84.4

%

Depreciation and amortization

 

13,778

 

 

0.7

%

 

21,313

 

 

1.2

%

 

(7,535

)

 

-35.4

%

Acquisition-related costs

 

466

 

 

0.0

%

 

99

 

 

0.0

%

 

367

 

 

370.7

%

Other operating (income) expense

 

(6,032

)

 

-0.3

%

 

3,651

 

 

0.2

%

 

(9,683

)

 

-265.2

%

Operating income (loss)

$

8,072

 

 

0.4

%

$

(642,276

)

 

-35.9

%

$

650,348

 

 

101.3

%

Interest expense, net

 

(152,919

)

 

 

 

(107,041

)

 

 

 

(45,878

)

 

42.9

%

Other income

 

5,851

 

 

 

 

85,503

 

 

 

 

(79,652

)

 

-93.2

%

Income tax benefit

 

4,472

 

 

 

 

1,780

 

 

 

 

2,692

 

 

151.2

%

Net loss

$

(134,524

)

 

 

$

(662,034

)

 

 

$

527,510

 

 

-79.7

%

 

55


 

 

The following table summarizes our consolidated key performance measures, including Field contribution and Field contribution margin, which are non-GAAP measures (see “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below), for the fiscal years indicated:

 

 

For the fiscal years ended

 

(dollars in thousands)

December 30, 2023

 

December 31, 2022

 

Change

 

% Change

 

Revenue

$

1,895,209

 

$

1,787,645

 

$

107,564

 

 

6.0

%

Cost of revenue, excluding depreciation and amortization

 

1,299,777

 

 

1,234,418

 

 

65,359

 

 

5.3

%

Gross margin

$

595,432

 

$

553,227

 

$

42,205

 

 

7.6

%

Gross margin percentage

 

31.4

%

 

30.9

%

 

 

 

 

Branch and regional administrative expenses

 

360,978

 

 

357,230

 

 

3,748

 

 

1.0

%

Field contribution

$

234,454

 

$

195,997

 

$

38,457

 

 

19.6

%

Field contribution margin

 

12.4

%

 

11.0

%

 

 

 

 

Corporate expenses

$

113,034

 

$

137,864

 

$

(24,830

)

 

-18.0

%

As a percentage of revenue

 

6.0

%

 

7.7

%

 

 

 

 

Operating income (loss)

$

8,072

 

$

(642,276

)

$

650,348

 

 

101.3

%

As a percentage of revenue

 

0.4

%

 

-35.9

%

 

 

 

 

 

The following tables summarize our key performance measures by segment for the fiscal years indicated:

 

56


 

 

PDS

 

 

 

For the fiscal years ended

 

 

(dollars and hours in thousands)

December 30, 2023

 

December 31, 2022

 

Change

 

% Change

 

 

Revenue

$

1,518,811

 

$

1,415,105

 

$

103,706

 

 

7.3

%

 

Cost of revenue, excluding depreciation and amortization

 

1,095,091

 

 

1,022,640

 

 

72,451

 

 

7.1

%

 

Gross margin

$

423,720

 

$

392,465

 

$

31,255

 

 

8.0

%

 

Gross margin percentage

 

27.9

%

 

27.7

%

 

 

 

0.2

%

(4)

Hours

 

39,818

 

 

38,461

 

 

1,357

 

 

3.5

%

 

Revenue rate

$

38.14

 

$

36.79

 

$

1.35

 

 

3.8

%

(1)

Cost of revenue rate

$

27.50

 

$

26.59

 

$

0.91

 

 

3.6

%

(2)

Spread rate

$

10.64

 

$

10.20

 

$

0.44

 

 

4.5

%

(3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HHH

 

 

 

For the fiscal years ended

 

 

(dollars and admissions/episodes in thousands)

December 30, 2023

 

December 31, 2022

 

Change

 

% Change

 

 

Revenue

$

218,628

 

$

232,584

 

$

(13,956

)

 

-6.0

%

 

Cost of revenue, excluding depreciation and amortization

 

113,762

 

 

130,721

 

 

(16,959

)

 

-13.0

%

 

Gross margin

$

104,866

 

$

101,863

 

$

3,003

 

 

2.9

%

 

Gross margin percentage

 

48.0

%

 

43.8

%

 

 

 

4.2

%

(4)

Home health total admissions (5)

 

40.1

 

 

49.0

 

 

(8.9

)

 

-18.2

%

 

Home health episodic admissions (6)

 

28.6

 

 

30.2

 

 

(1.6

)

 

-5.3

%

 

Home health total episodes (7)

 

45.5

 

 

48.5

 

 

(3.0

)

 

-6.2

%

 

Home health revenue per completed episode (8)

$

3,032

 

$

2,987

 

$

45

 

 

1.5

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MS

 

 

 

For the fiscal years ended

 

 

(dollars and UPS in thousands)

December 30, 2023

 

December 31, 2022

 

Change

 

% Change

 

 

Revenue

$

157,770

 

$

139,956

 

$

17,814

 

 

12.7

%