HCA on solid financial footing despite scrutiny

Despite a spate of lawsuits and federal investigations, Tennessee's Hospital Corporation of America's (HCA) financial performance remains strong, HealthLeaders Media reported.

Just this week, the biggest U.S. hospital operator agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle claims that it violated the False Claims Act and the Stark statute in 2007. Its subsidiaries allegedly gave financial benefits to Diagnostic Associates of Chattanooga to entice the physician group to refer patients to HCA facilities.

Meanwhile, HCA is under federal investigation for aggressively performing cardiac services at 10 of its Florida hospitals to boost revenues and profit margins.

But amid the inquiries and allegations, HCA's size has allowed it to endure, noted HealthLeaders. There is a financial impact, "but the company is so large and well capitalized that you don't see it," healthcare industry analyst Sheryl Skolnick, Ph.D., of CRT Capital Group, said in the article.

HCA reported strong revenue and profit growth in its most recent earnings report. HCA saw same-facility equivalent admissions and same-facility emergency room visits jump 3.9 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, year over year.

Other hospitals and health systems could find themselves facing increased scrutiny, thanks, in part, to provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act giving whistleblowers and federal agencies new tools to fight fraud, noted HealthLeaders.

"Whether it be Tenet, or HCA, or even specialty hospitals like HealthSouth, everybody knows it's a very hospital-investigative environment," Skolnick said. 

To learn more:
- read the HealthLeaders article