Could hospital lending be picking up?

Ask your average economist when the recession will end, and it seems you'll get dates of anywhere from late this year to sometime in 2013. Nonetheless, it seems as though at least some signs are looking more positive, at long last.

At a recent meeting of bankers and local healthcare execs in Nashville, talk was upbeat, if not euphorically excited. Guests included HCA senior vice president of finance and treasurer David Anderson, whose organization just closed on a $1.5 billion high-yield bond issue, the biggest of this year.

Bank of America, for example, has grown its national healthcare business 18 percent over the past year, with a $7.5 billion year-over-year increase in commitments, according to the bank's Kirk Porter, senior vice president of healthcare strategies.

One slightly down note, however, came from Kevin Lavender, head of Fifth Third' Bank's national Healthcare practice, who noted that banks aren't going to be gentle to facilities that ask for an extension or increase. Most banks are likely to increase prices and add fees, he said.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Health Leaders Media piece

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