Also buys Missouri hospice: Home health provider LHC Group Inc. has agreed to a joint venture with a hospital in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The Lafayette-based company will provide service in conjunction with Helen Keller Hospital. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed today. The primary service area includes six Alabama counties with a population of about 260,000, 16% of which are over the age of 65. This agency will operate under the name of Keller Home Care and Keller Hospice. In a separate deal, LHC says it purchased all of the assets of Community Loving Care Hospice, which has locations in Wentzville, Mo., and Bowling Green, Mo. The hospice serves 11 counties, with a population of more than 1.6 million, almost 14% of which are over the age of 65. The company will continue to operate under the Community Loving Care name.
Salaries held for second year in a row: Louisiana’s state workers won’t be receiving pay raises for a second year. The Civil Service Commission voted 6-1 today to back Gov. Bobby Jindal’s request to freeze employee salaries and block annual merit raises, as Louisiana grapples with a budget shortfall. The decision affects 56,000 classified employees. The Jindal administration says agencies can’t afford the 4% pay raises, which are based on annual evaluations, and civil service leaders agreed. Pay was frozen in the budget year that ends June 30. The proposal approved by the commission will again suspend the merit raises in the 2011-12 fiscal year that starts July 1, as the state works to close a $1.6 billion budget gap. Jindal said he’ll similarly freeze pay raises for thousands of political appointees in the cabinet agencies under his control. Legislative agencies also have suspended merit increases. The governor’s budget office estimates the pay freeze would save the state $55 million, including nearly $17 million in state general fund dollars.