The region's two largest health-care providers are competing for additional business in Niagara County.
Catholic Health and Kaleida Health are negotiating with the Niagara County Department of Health for the county's certified home health and long-term home health care programs.
Christian Peck, public information officer for Niagara County, declined to identify the finalists, saying only that both are current service providers in the region. A final decision on a new operator for the programs is expected by early February, he said.
Representatives of the Visiting Nurse Association, an affiliate of Kaleida Health, says it is the best choice not only because its bid is higher, but because it is already serving clients through an existing certified home health license. Holding the license would mean it could begin to transition clients immediately, as well as manage Niagara County's program while its long-term care program expansion application is processed by the state.
Catholic Health confirmed its McAuley Seton Home Care division was still negotiating with the county but stressed the process is not just about the lowest bid, but part of a comprehensive request for proposals with price being just one portion of the selection criteria.
The VNA in December won a bid to take over the CHHA and LTHHC programs for Steuben County. Genesee and Orleans counties are shifting their programs to a privately owned Rochester corporation.
Niagara, like many other counties across the state, is getting out of the provider business by selling its licenses to state approved providers in response to rising operational costs and declining reimbursements. According to the state Department of Health, 54 counties statewide operate certified home-health programs, with 31 actively planning to shed those services.
Under county operation, Niagara County's programs currently serve about 540 residents annually.
About half a dozen private groups initially responded to a request for proposals issued this summer. Niagara Hospice withdrew its bid in November, opting instead to redirect its resources toward alternative home care programs and services.