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LifePoint Health has signed a definitive agreement to buy Louisville-based specialty health company Kindred Healthcare for an undisclosed sum, bulking up its post-acute, rehab and behavioral health services. 

The merger creates a more vertical health care system that guides patients through acute and post-acute care episodes, which LifePoint executives believe will improve health outcomes and access without increasing costs for patients. The transaction is expected to close by the fourth quarter. 

Brentwood-based LifePoint today owns and operates 87 hospital campuses in 29 states as well as more than 50 post-acute service providers and facilities and more than 35 outpatient facilities. The company's home office just east of Interstate 65 is home to nearly 700 people.

Based in Louisville, Kindred runs 62 long-term acute care facilities, 25 inpatient rehabilitation facilities, more than 100 acute rehab facilities, and two behavioral health facilities. The combined companies will have more than 74,000 employees nationwide. 

Kindred has grown its footprint through joint ventures and partnerships with hospitals across the country, including in Nashville with Ascension Saint Thomas for a $48 million rehab facility. LifePoint leaders intend to continue that model, “capitalizing on their combined resources and expertise to partner with respected health systems, payers and other providers to offer services in areas where they do not currently operate,” according to a press release. 

“Adding Kindred Healthcare to LifePoint is one of the most significant demonstrations, in our company’s history, of LifePoint’s commitment to our deeply rooted mission," LifePoint President and CEO David Dill said. "Kindred’s focus on healing and hope, provided through its long-term acute care hospitals, rehabilitation centers and most recently its behavioral health services — an important and growing need across the country — is highly complementary to the current LifePoint network.”

New York-based investment firm Apollo bought LifePoint in 2018 for $5.6 billion and merged with Brentwood-based RCCH HealthCare Partners, with intent to consolidate more health care systems in the region. 

Around the same time, then-publicly traded Kindred was bought for $4.1 billion by a consortium of insurance giant Humana and private-equity titans TPG Capital and Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe. The buyers split Kindred into long-term care hospitals/rehab and home care businesses, the latter being 40 percent owned by Humana. The insurer in April said it would buy the remaining 60 percent of the home care group, the largest of its kind in the country, and rename its CenterWell.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year LifePoint was in talks to buy Ardent Health Services, a transaction that would create a more than 100-hospital network worth nearly $10 billion.

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