HCA profits jump with high Medicare payments

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Holdings saw its first-quarter profits jump, thanks to higher-than-expected Medicare reimbursements, Orlando Business Journal reported.

The nation's biggest hospital chain expects about $1.795 billion to $1.845 billion in adjusted earnings for the first quarter of 2012, compared to $1.590 billion in the first quarter of 2011, the company said today in a statement. It also projects revenues of roughly $8.3 billion to $8.4 billion, up from $7.4 billion in last year's first quarter.

The hospital operator recently reached a settlement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services over litigation in 1999 regarding payment rates for rural hospitals, noted the Business Journal. With the April 5 settlement, HCA expects an additional $271 million in Medicare payments by June 30, it said in the statement.

However, its financial outlook may not look so bright if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new report by Moody's Investors Service. The report warns that a full or partial repeal of health reform would limit for-profit operators' revenue growth and profit margins, as well as constrain cash flow, especially for HCA, Community Health Systems and Tenet Healthcare Corp., FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

For more information:
- here's the HCA statement
- here's the Orlando Business Journal article