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. . . And In Health Despite an industry upheaval and two gravely ill sons, this health-care entrepreneur discovered the prescription for perseverance.

By Michelle Prather

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It was early 1996, just months after he and his wife, Jacquelyn,founded their contract rehabilitation company, Achievement TherapyProfessionals (ATP) Inc., when Ted Langdon first heard rumblingsthat times, they were a changin' (in the health-care industry,that is). Hearsay trickling down the grapevine of home-health andrehabilitation providers pointed to the inevitable: PresidentClinton's Balanced Budget Act of 1997 would cut back onMedicare, not only bringing about a cap on outpatientrehabilitation services, but also lowering per-visit costs toMedicare-based home-health agencies, hospitals and skilled nursingfacilities.

Sadly, looming business woes were the least of the Langdons'worries that year. In the summer of 1996, at age three, their sonSpencer-twin brother of Tyler-was diagnosed with leukemia,warranting three years of chemotherapy and approximately $1,000worth of medication each month. Faced with circumstances that wouldobliterate the future goals of most, the Langdons didn't fold,but instead expanded ATP's services to override the Medicaremassacre.

Making ATP a "one-stop shop" by adding outpatientrehab to its services was the ultimate goal, but first the Langdonshad to move the company out of their Carrboro, North Carolina, home(situated in a bedroom, no less) and into a Hillsborough, NorthCarolina, office complex. To Ted, outpatient was ATP'ssalvation. "I really started seeing the effects [of theBalanced Budget Act] in 1997," says Ted, 33."Medicare-based agencies were laying off staff, and the firstpeople to go were with contract companies." If they didn'tgo out of business or merge with other corporations, agenciesdrastically reduced their pay rates to contract companies, loweringthe therapists' wages. Some just didn't pay at all-likeHouse Calls, a statewide home-health agency in North Carolina whoseowner was nabbed for allegedly double-billing his way toMedicare/Medicaid fraud in 1997. "I tried everything I couldto retrieve [the $14,000 House Calls owed], but they were sued byeveryone," says Ted. "They had everything frozen, and Iwas so far down on the lawsuit list that, basically, I never gotpaid."

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