Palomar Health Joint Venture Featured in Hospice News

Kara Health’s joint venture announcement with Palomar Health was recently featured in Hospice News! Full article can be read here and is provided below. 

Kara Health, Palomar Health System Launch Hospice, Palliative Care JV

Hospice News – By Jim Parker – November 29, 2021

California-based hospice and palliative care provider Kara Health has launched a joint venture with the Palomar Health System in San Diego County. The venture will operate under the Palomar brand, providing care to patients suffering from serious or terminal illness.

CEO Devan Walia founded Kara Health in 2017 with his siblings, including the company’s clinical lead Ravnyssa Verma, and vice president of business development Taj Walia. The Walia family has been in the home health and hospice space since the Kara co-founders’ parents started their own company in 1991. The Walia siblings grew up working in the field, each getting their start filing medical records. Verma is a certified hospice and palliative care registered nurse.

The company launched as a palliative care provider, but began to offer hospice following its Nov. 2020 acquisition of Orange County Hospice Services in Southern California for an undisclosed amount.

“We really developed our model around palliative care,” CEO Walia told Hospice News. “About a year ago, we decided to also diversify into the hospice industry. We were sending our large population of palliative care patients to a variety of hospice providers and getting varying results.When a complaint came back, it would reflect on Kara Health. So we decided we could do hospice ourselves and give patients a better experience.”

Kara’s growth as a palliative care provider was spurred by larger payer contracts, often with Medicare Advantage plans.

The joint venture with Palomar will go live in early January. Financial arrangements of the partnership are undisclosed, including ownership percentages. Walia indicated that payment for the venture’s services were expected to come primarily from Medicare Advantage organizations and the Medicare Hospice Benefit, with some participation from private insurers.

The two stakeholders will also have a shared savings arrangement for its palliative care business in which each party benefits from reduced costs generated by prevention of hospital admissions, readmissions and emergency department visits, according to Walia.

The shared savings agreement may in time expand to the hospice side as Kara Health weighs the risk and benefits of participating in the hospice component of the value-based insurance design demonstration, often called the Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in, Walia told Hospice News.

‘The [joint venture] is going to be fully integrated in the Palomar Health System. We will be collaborating extremely closely across the board with them,” Walia said. “We’re also going to be running inpatient palliative care as well as care in the home. It’s going to be one integrated operation.”

The Palomar venture will focus on patients with cancer, congestive heart failure, stroke, chronic kidney disease, end-stage liver disease, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, particularly those who have a record of frequent high-acuity utilization, though patients with other serious conditions will not be excluded.

While Kara Health has partnerships with a number of health systems, this marks its first joint venture. Pursuing relationships of this kind will be a cornerstone of the company’s growth strategy going forward.

“This is a big part of our growth strategy. We are currently looking at health system joint ventures all over the country,” Walia said. “We actually have quite a few in the pipeline.”