UHS reports its DOJ fund reached $123M, is 'close to an agreement'

Universal Health Services
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services has steadily recorded increases in this reserve over the last several quarters preparing for a settlement with the Department of Justice over an investigation of some of its behavioral health hospitals. (Universal Health Services)

Universal Health Services has $123 million in reserve for a future settlement with the Department of Justice more than three years after it disclosed it was under investigation for billing practices at its behavioral health facilities. 

The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based health giant released the figure as part of its fourth quarter and end-of-year earnings on Thursday. The health system has steadily recorded increases in this reserve over the last several quarters.

"As we've said for a while now, we've adjusted our reserves periodically—pretty much lately, every quarter—to reflect whatever our latest offer is," said UHS' Chief Financial Officer Steve Filton during a call with analysts. "It's also worth noting that the gap between our offer and the government's demand has narrowed quite considerably and I think we view ourselves, certainly on monetary issues, as close to an agreement on a final number with the government."

RELATED: Universal Health Services officials 'optimistic' for resolution in DOJ investigation soon

Lower earnings

For the year, UHS reported its net income reached $779.7 million in 2018 on revenues of $10.8 billion. That's up from $752.3 million on revenues of $10.4 billion in revenue in 2017 and despite reporting its earnings dove 28% to $158.1 million from $219.6 million in the same quarter of 2017. Its revenues were up during the quarter, reaching $2.8 billion compared to $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. 

During the fourth quarter of 2018, UHS reported its acute care hospitals adjusted admissions increased 2.2% and adjusted patient days increased by 4.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

Ramped up capital investments

In 2019, UHS said it plans to spend between $675 million and $725 million in capital investments across the health system.

That spending is earmarked for capital equipment, renovations, new projects at existing hospitals and construction of new facilities. That's up from $665 million in capital spending in 2018, including $144 million in capital spending in the fourth quarter. 

RELATED: Report: Scope of Universal Health Services investigations widens to include multiple federal agencies

The 2019 spending plan includes a newly announced joint venture partnership with Southeast Health to build a new 102-bed behavioral health hospital in southeast Missouri. 

In all, UHS opened 234 new acute care beds and 734 new behavioral health beds in 2018.