Sutter gets approval for $1B bond issue

Despite facing vocal opposition, Sutter Health has gotten approval from the California Health Facilities Financing Authority (CHFFA) to proceed with its proposed $958 million bond issue. Sutter had hoped to proceed in late 2006, but the CHFFA postponed the decision, in part, perhaps, due to complaints by the Service Employees International United-United Healthcare West, which had demanded proof that Sutter would use some of the proceeds to lower its prices.

Apparently taking note of the SEIU's concerns, CHFFA now wants Sutter to offer details on its price-cutting plans before it will give final approval to the deal. Meanwhile, to further demonstrate its public-spiritedness, Sutter has agreed to invest $4 million in technology grants to rural hospitals, as well as $4.5 million to support community health clinics. However, it will use the bulk of its proceeds ($791 million) to build new medical offices, clinics and hospitals, as well as refurbishing existing facilities.

To get extensive detail on the planned Sutter build-out:
- read this Sutter press release