Medicare’s 5.2 percent cut in reimbursement rates for home health providers like Lafayette-based LHC Group (Nasdaq:LHCG) is being blamed for the company’s 34 percent drop in first quarter profit.

For the three months ending March 31, the company earned $7.7 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with $11.7 million, or 64 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. Net service revenue for the first quarter of 2011 increased to $161.8 million compared with $145.2 million for the same period in 2010.

“I am very proud of our team for their outstanding performance in the first quarter, as we adapted to a 5.2 percent reimbursement cut and prepared for the face to face requirements and the new therapy rules that went into effect on April 1st,” CEO Keith G. Myers said in announcing the results. “In spite of the reimbursement and regulatory challenges we faced in the quarter, we continued to improve quality outcomes and gain market share, as evidenced by our double digit organic admissions growth.”

The home health and hospice company also reaffirmed its guidance for fiscal year 2011 of net revenue in the range of $660 million to $670 million and fully diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.15 to $2.25. This guidance does not take into account the impact of any potential future acquisitions or share repurchases, de novo locations, or reimbursement changes.

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