Hopebridge Inc.’s CEO, David McIntosh, is leaving the company. Its previous CEO, Dennis May, resumed his role, effective Tuesday.
The Indianapolis-based autism therapy provider announced in April 2023 that McIntosh, the company’s then-president and chief operating officer, would take over the CEO spot on May 1, 2023. May started as CEO in 2016. Since leaving the CEO role, May has been Hopebridge’s board chairman.
A company representative described May’s tenure as “playing a pivotal role in expanding access to autism therapy services for thousands of our families across the country. We are confident in Dennis’ ability to guide us through this transition and beyond.”
The representative also said the company was “on sound footing” and “poised to make 2024 one of our best years yet.”
The year 2023 saw a number of ups and downs for the company.
In July, BHB reported that Hopebridge would shutter its applied behavior analysis service line in Colorado, citing low Medicaid rates and inflation. As a result, it closed six of eight locations, leaving open locations to provide speech therapy and occupational therapy for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs).
Closer to home, state officials in Indiana converted its previous percentage-of-billed-charges reimbursement model for autism therapy to a fixed rate of about 25% lower than the historic average reimbursement. The new rate took effect Jan. 1, according to the Indiana Capital Chronicle.
The cuts in Indiana were seen as unusual by leaders in the autism therapy space. However, Hopebridge’s experience with problematic Medicaid rates and policies is indicative of autism therapy providers across the nation.
Most of Hopebridge’s offices are in Indiana. Of the 122 locations listed on its website, 21 are based in Indiana.
Hopebridge is owned by the private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners. The firm acquired Hopebridge in 2019 for an undisclosed sum. The Arsenal Capital fund that acquired the company typically invests between $100 million and $500 million of enterprise value for health care platforms. Pehub.com reports the Hopebridge deal came with a $255 million valuation.
Like many service organizations, Hopebridge’s most significant expense is its staff. And like many ABA providers, the company has to juggle low reimbursement rates and high frontline staff turnover. At a BHB event, McIntosh said that increased wages alone didn’t improve retention. Instead, adding additional value to roles through things like career advancement pathways and internal support systems made a difference.
May becomes the second high-profile boomerang CEO — a CEO who left and returned to the company they previously led — among large autism therapy companies. The long-time CEO and founder of the Center for Autism and Related Services (CARD), Doreen Granpeesheh, acquired CARD out of bankruptcy and is now running it as CEO.