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Alliance Imaging Inc. Reports Operating Results (10-Q)

November 05, 2010 | About:

Alliance Imaging Inc. (NASDAQ:AIQ) filed Quarterly Report for the period ended 2010-09-30.

Alliance Imaging Inc. has a market cap of $234.1 million; its shares were traded at around $4.38 with a P/E ratio of 444.2 and P/S ratio of 0.4. AIQ is in the portfolios of Steven Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors.

Highlight of Business Operations:

MRI, PET/CT and radiation oncology services generated 45%, 39% and 9% of our revenue, respectively, for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 48%, 40% and 7% of our revenue, respectively, for the nine months ended September 30, 2009. Our remaining revenue was comprised of other modality diagnostic imaging services revenue, primarily computed tomography (CT) and management contract revenue. We had 521 diagnostic imaging and radiation oncology systems, including 301 MRI systems and 125 positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/CT systems, and served over 1,000 hospitals and other healthcare partners in 46 states at September 30, 2010. We operated 126 fixed-site imaging centers (three in unconsolidated joint ventures), which constitute systems installed in hospitals or other medical buildings on or near hospital campuses, including modular buildings, systems installed inside medical groups offices, and free-standing fixed-site imaging centers, which include systems installed in a medical office building, ambulatory surgical center, or other retail space at September 30, 2010. Of the 126 fixed-site imaging centers, 98 were MRI fixed-site imaging centers, 20 were PET or PET/CT fixed-site imaging centers, five were other modality fixed-site imaging centers and three were in unconsolidated joint ventures. We also operated 26 radiation oncology centers and stereotactic radiosurgery facilities (including two radiation oncology centers in unconsolidated joint ventures) at September 30, 2010.

Approximately 19% and 20% of our revenues for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively, were generated by providing services directly to patients from our sites located at or near hospitals or other healthcare provider facilities, which we refer to as retail revenue. Our revenue from these sites is generated from direct billings to patients or their third-party payors, including Medicare, which are recorded net of contractual discounts and other arrangements for providing services at discounted prices. We typically charge a higher price per scan under retail billing than we do under wholesale billing.

With respect to our retail business, for services for which we bill Medicare directly, we are paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, which is updated on an annual basis. Under the Medicare statutory formula, payments under the Physician Fee Schedule would have decreased for the past several years if Congress failed to intervene. For 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) projected a rate reduction of 21.2% under the statutory formula unless Congress intervened again to avoid the payment reduction. A number of legislative initiatives have prevented this reduction thus far, but on an incremental basis. The latest was the Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010, signed into law on June 25, 2010, which not only prevented the rate reduction, but also increased payment rates by 2.2%, effective June 1, 2010 through November 30, 2010. These payment rates are currently scheduled to be reduced under the statutory formula on December 1, 2010 and then again on January 1, 2011. CMS is currently projecting that the total reduction in payment rates will be 24.9%. If Congress fails to intervene to prevent the negative update factor in the future, the resulting decrease in payment will adversely impact our revenues and results of operations.

For retail services furnished on or after July 1, 2010, CMS began implementing a 50% reduction in reimbursement for multiple images on contiguous body parts, as mandated by the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act (collectively, the PPACA). This is a 25% increase from prior years. In its final Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule for calendar year 2011, effective January 1, 2011, CMS will apply the same reduction to certain CT and CT angiography (CTA), MRI and MR angiography (MRA), and ultrasound services furnished to the same patient in the same session, regardless of the imaging modality, and not limited to contiguous body areas. CMS projects that the final rule will reduce payment for 20% more services than the current multiple procedure payment reduction policy. CMS expects that the final rule will primarily reduce payments for radiology services and to freestanding diagnostic imaging centers, such as our retail business. At this time, we do not believe that the multiple procedure payment reductions will have a material impact on our future retail revenues.

Regulatory updates to the Physician Fee Schedule for calendar year 2010 include reduced payment rates for certain diagnostic services using equipment costing more than $1 million through revisions to usage assumptions from the previous 50% usage rate to a 90% usage rate. This utilization change, to be phased in over a four-year period, applies to MRI and CT scans, but not for radiation therapy and other therapeutic equipment. The PPACA superseded CMSs assumed usage rate for such equipment and, beginning on January 1, 2011, the PPACA requires CMS to use a 75% utilization rate. For 2011, CMS also finalized its proposed rule to expand the list of services to which the higher equipment utilization rate assumption applies to include certain diagnostic CTA and MRA procedures using similar CT and MRI scanners that cost more than $1 million. At this time, we estimate that the new usage assumptions for MRI and CT scans under the PPACA, which is to take effect on January 1, 2011, will not have a material impact on our future retail revenues.

Other regulatory changes to the 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule involve revaluing certain components of the fee schedule payment rate, which impact radiology and other diagnostic tests, including the services we provide. Some of these changes are being transitioned over a four year period, with full implementation in 2013. For the 2010 transition payment, CMS estimated that the aggregate impact of its changes (which include the changes in the equipment utilization rate discussed above) results in a 1% reduction in radiation oncology, 5% reduction in radiology, 18% reduction in nuclear medicine and 12% reduction for all suppliers providing the technical component of diagnostic tests generally. To date these changes have not had a material impact on our retail revenues. Effective January 1, 2011, CMS made further adjustments to the fee schedule so that specialties that have a higher proportion of the payment rate attributable to operating expenses such as equipment and supplies, which include radiation oncology, will experience an increase in aggregate payments. In addition, as a result of adjustments to codes identified to be misvalued, radiation oncology specialties and suppliers providing the technical component of diagnostic tests are among the entities that will experience decreases in aggregate payment. Some of these changes will be transitioned, and CMS estimates that the impact for 2011 (which include the changes in the equipment utilization rate discussed above as well as the expanded multiple procedure payment reductions for certain imaging services) will be a 1% reduction in radiation oncology, 10% reduction in radiology, 4% reduction in nuclear medicine and 15% reduction for all suppliers providing the technical component of diagnostic tests generally. These estimated impacts are calculated prior to the application of the negative update factor discussed above. At this time, we do not believe that the regulatory changes will have a material impact on our future retail revenues.

Read the The complete Report

About the author:

Charlie Tian, Ph.D. - Founder of GuruFocus. You can now order his book Invest Like a Guru on Amazon.

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