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ABA Centers of America doubling its size; goal: "treat as many kiddos as we can"

Aug 2, 2023, Behavioral Health Business: ABA Centers of America To Double Its Footprint Without PE Backing

ABA Centers of America is bootstrapping its way to national expansion, adding four new state markets to its footprint.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based autism diagnostics and therapy company is expanding into Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and the Washington D.C. area. The center already operates in Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey. It is also working through the final stages of licensing for locations in Pennsylvania.

So far, ABA Centers of America has not engaged with a private equity firm or similar backer to grow, CEO and founder Chris Barnett told Behavioral Health Business. Barnett is a serial entrepreneur who owns and operates several ventures through the holding company, ICBD Holdings. The private equity industry has been behind the rise of the national autism platform companies that top the industry in terms of size and reach.

“We’ve found a model that makes sense, and … the market is responding to it,” Barnett said.

“It’s our goal to treat as many kiddos as we can I’m painfully aware that there are kiddos all over the country that are languishing on somebody’s waiting list waiting for me to enter the market.”…

Specifically, ABA Centers of America is opening locations in the following markets: — Austin, Houston and Dallas, Texas — Nashville, Tennessee — Washington D.C. — Alexandria, Virginia — Buckhead and Alpharetta, Georgia

The company is also in the process of building three centers in the Philadelphia area. ABA Centers of America offers center-based, in-home and in-school services. By the end of the year, the company will effectively double its footprint. The company was launched in 2020.

Today, ABA Centers of America cares for over 700 children and has been growing its census consistently at about 12% each month, according to Barnett. It also offers diagnostic services with the goal of getting clients to an assessment in 14 days and delivering a diagnostic report within a week. ….

“I can give them a diagnosis, and I can get them on somebody else’s waiting list, potentially two years quicker,” Barnett said. “And that’s really important to me.”

ABA Centers of America’s approach to growth with payers

Working with commercial payers on an out-of-network basis or through single-case agreements has enabled its approach to care, staff and footprint expansion. ABA Centers of America is also credentialed with Medicaid programs in most of the states where it operates.

Barnett declined to discuss specifics. But he offered that “well over 20%” of ABA Centers of America’s clients get access to care through single case agreements and that “we do treat a lot of our clients out of network.”

“We’re solving a pain point for the payers,” Barnett said. “They’re federally and sometimes state [mandated] to provide providers in their network, and there just aren’t enough providers to meet the demand.”

Often, out-of-network and single-case agreement rates are higher on average than in-network rates. Single-case agreements allow patients to use their in-network benefits without a care provider establishing an in-network contract with a payer. However, single-case agreements may be difficult to obtain and administer en masse.

For that, ABA Centers of America turns to proprietary outcomes tracking and business intelligence software to use data to negotiate with payers.

Barnett also owns a technology company called ABATECH that builds software — including an electronic health record (EHR) and clinician-level data collection systems — that is “incubating” alongside ABA Centers of America. ABATECH doesn’t presently work with any other organizations….


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