UPDATE 2-Home healthcare shrs down as Amedisys gets DoJ letter

* DoJ seeks documents on claims submitted to Medicare

* Amedisys says intends to cooperate with DoJ

* Gentiva, LHC, Almost Family shares down
(Recasts, adds analyst comment, updates share movement)

By Suzannah Benjamin

BANGALORE, Sept 28 (BestGrowthStock) – Shares of U.S. home
healthcare companies fell Tuesday after Amedisys Inc (AMED.O: ),
which is being investigated by regulators over its billing
practices, said the Department of Justice asked for information
on claims it submitted to Medicare.

Amedisys shares fell 17 percent, while Gentiva Health
Services Inc (GTIV.O: ), LHC Group Inc (LHCG.O: ) and Almost Family
Inc (AFAM.O: ) were down about 4 percent.

In a civil investigative demand issued under the False
Claims Act, the DoJ sought documents related to reimbursement
and billing claims, Amedisys said in a statement.

In May, a U.S. Senate Finance Committee had launched an
investigation over billing practices that it said raised
questions about reimbursement from the Medicare insurance
program. [ID:nN13162384]

In a bipartisan letter to Amedisys, Gentiva, LHC and Almost
Family, lawmakers had said it appeared the companies increased
billing to help boost their profits.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had launched
similar probes into the billing practices.

Civil investigation demands may be forthcoming for the
other companies as well, given the reviews by the SEC and the
Senate Committee, said Kevin Campbell, an analyst at Avondale
Partners.

However, it is too early to know if the DoJ request is
related to the regulatory reviews of the industry, he said.

The DoJ demand covers the period from Jan. 1, 2003 through
the present, Amedisys said, adding that it is cooperating with
the department.

The DoJ’s demand could impact Amedisys’ volumes in the home
health business, Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst with CRT Capital
Group said. It may hit admissions as well, she said.
(Editing by Maju Samuel and Vinu Pilakkott)

UPDATE 2-Home healthcare shrs down as Amedisys gets DoJ letter