The corporate agenda has been crushing our economy in New Hampshire and throughout the country. Corporations have yeilded record profits and workers have been struggling to pay their bills due to flat wages. One of the biggest expenses for NH workers is health care, and now we are finding that our local hospitals are playing the same profit games.
Yesterday’s New York Times took an in-depth look at HCA (Hospital Corporation of America), which owns Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Portsmouth Regional Ambulatory Surgery Center, Parkland Medical Center (Derry) and Salem Surgery Center.
The Times’ analysis showed that
Profits at the health care industry giant HCA, which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, have soared, far outpacing those of most of its competitors.
The big winners have been three private equity firms — including Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate — that bought HCA in late 2006.
HCA’s robust profit growth has raised the value of the firms’ holdings to nearly three and a half times their initial investment in the $33 billion deal.
Read the story here.
Last week, the Times reported on allegations that doctors at HCA hospitals were performing unnecessary cardiac procedures – and then billing Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers for the services. According to the article, HCA “declined to provide evidence that it had alerted Medicare, state Medicaid or private insurers of its findings, or reimbursed them for any of the procedures that the company later deemed unnecessary, as required by law.” Read last week’s Times story here.
Unnecessary medical procedures… and “robust” profit growth.
This isn’t the first time HCA has faced questions about its medical practices. In 2003, the corporation paid a record fine of $1.7 billion for “false claims the government alleged it submitted to Medicare and other federal health programs.” Read more here.
But the corporation’s CEO, Rick Scott, was never charged.
A whistleblower in the Columbia/HCA fraud case said Rick Scott should have known of billing practices at his hospitals that cheated the federal government out of millions of dollars. “He was a fairly hands-on CEO,” said John Schilling, a former reimbursement supervisor in the Fort Myers division office. “He should have known being CEO of a multibillion-dollar company. He should have known what is on his balance sheet.”
Read the Naples Daily News story here.
And now, Rick Scott is the Governor of Florida, overseeing the state’s Medicaid program. How does that work? Read the Miami Herald story “Scott’s Medicaid overhaul plan benefits HCA hospitals” here.
“Robust” profits, indeed.
Governor Scott is scheduled to be one of the speakers at the Republican National Convention later this month.
Is there any chance he’ll give an “insider’s perspective” on the health care system, and what’s really wrong with it?