The reason Mitt Romney is going to roll back Obama care is because Bain Capital’s holdings in HCA, have jumped.
HCA’s robust profit growth, has given Bain Capital 3 1/2 times the rate on their original investment.
The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall.
The rub is exactly how, HCA became successful after it and Bain Capital “hooked up”.
The secret of HCA’s growth and development was simple. It figured out how to get more revenue from private insurance companies, patients and Medicare by billing much more aggressively for its services than ever before; it found ways to reduce emergency room overcrowding and expenses; and it experimented with new ways to reduce the cost of its medical staff, a move that sometimes led to conflicts with doctors and nurses over concerns about patient care.
Ironically, doctors who are pulling plugs on ADA due to anticipated lower revenues, are supporting Romney who is actually responsible for already applying downward pressure to practicing physicians simply to make himself more money.
In a practice bordering on fraud, in 2008, HCA simply changed all its billing codes by elevating them to a higher care level. If a patient came in with indigestion, it was diagnosed as a heart condition, requiring oxygen, IV, and heart monitor… Instead of receivinhg a $65 Medicare reimbursement, they received a $313 Medicare reimbursement. .Overnight, the patients who HCA said must now require more care, often intensive, surged. And Medicare paid for their unneeded services at a much higher rate. Prior to Bain, they just got sent home as an outpatient.
Prior to the Bain Capital buyout, HCA lagged behind its competitors in higher care internments. Suddenly it became number one.
This slight change in determining how much money Medicare was going to pay, increased profits by 100 million during the first quarter of 2009…..
One private insurer questioned the new billing, forcing HCA to returns some of the money it had received. Medicare did not and the fraud continued.
Under Bain Capital, HCA’s emergency rooms, also refused and turned away patients it felt would not pay. They said they would take patients money first, then process them for treatment. 80,000 chose to seek other alternative care. It is illegal to turn people away for medical care. That was no problem for Bain Capital.
HCA then employed Bain Capital tactics towards staffing. Staffing was cut considerably not based on need, but for financial reasons. HCA and its staff have had difficulty agreeing how much staff is needed in triage and medical emergencies.
Nurses interviewed by the New York Times, said they were concerned that the system sometimes had led to inadequate staffing in important areas like critical care. As profits grew, so did the strains between doctors and nurses and management, with doctors and nurses clearly upset that patients were being left to rot due to HCA intentional shorting schedules. Again, it began… with Bain Capital.
Since Bain Capital took over, the prevalence of bedsores in patients bedridden for long periods of time —has clearly been a struggle for HCA. HCA hospitals have fended off lawsuits; and impartial regulators have upbraided HCA for deficient care to patients.
So sure, their profits are going through the roof, but at the expense of the patient’s care….. Insurance and Medicare are being overcharged for what is getting delivered… Sure, profits are higher.
Because of HCA’s rate of return, it’s success has inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity…
Furthermore, HCA’s tactics are now under scrutiny by the Justice Department. Last week, HCA disclosed that the United States attorney’s office in Miami has requested information about cardiac procedures at 10 of its hospitals in Florida and elsewhere. The Justice Department has requested reviews that HCA conducted that indicate some of the heart procedures at some of its hospitals might not have been necessary and resulted in unjustified reimbursements from Medicare and other insurers.
Is this really the direction we want to go in health care? For profit? It may be too late! Already large numbers of non profit hospitals are being bought up and converted to those socking it to the patients for profit.
This is crony hospitalization at it’s best. Bill Frist the former Senator, as well as his dad, were founders of HCA. It merged with Columbia Healthcare and for a while was run by Rick Scott, now governor of Florida, during whose time, the largest ever award of Medicare Fraud was levied against HCA, and Rick was subsequently removed from his position.
The details behind HCA are very troubling. And this is the first sign of all things to come.
But the biggest take away is that this is Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s ideal of how things should be. Look at the profit they point to. They are successful businessmen.
But people hurt when they make money. Money isn’t everything.
Voters need to send that message this November LOUD AND CLEAR.