Mt. Vernon Register-News


March 5, 2013

No, I guess I hadn't heard it all




Just when I think that I have heard it all about the waste in health care, a new headline appears.

The one today is about HCA, the nation's largest profit making owner of hospitals, being ordered to pay $162 million for allegedly not living up to an agreement when they purchased the hospitals in the Kansas City area.

An article by Julie Creswell also points out that the judge appointed an accountant to investigate whether HCA had actually provided the amount of charitable care they agreed at the time of purchase of the not-for-profit hospitals.

An excerpt from the article states, "The suit is among several problems for HCA. The company disclosed last year, for example, that the United States Attorney's Office in Miami had subpoenaed documents as part of an inquiry to determine whether unnecessary cardiology procedures had been performed at HCA hospitals in Florida and elsewhere. At stake in that case is whether HCA inappropriately billed Medicare and private insurers for the procedures. HCA has denied any wrongdoing."

Financially, Thursday's judgment is a slap on the wrist for HCA, which posted net income of $360 million in just the third quarter of last year. But the ruling may reverberate beyond HCA as communities across the country put their troubled non-profit hospitals up for sale.

I was asked today at the workout center if I did not get tired of writing about the same things in the column I write weekly. Another of my workout buddies that I have affectionately labeled the "fitness mafia members" added, "do you think it does any good to continue to write about a terribly corrupt political system and unaffordable health care?"

My answer to question number one is no. I do not get tired because maybe there are folks just like me that did not know how the corruptness in our government has brought us to the brink of destroying our way of life. The answer to question number two is the same, except I really doubt if many folks understand how fraud and waste in our healthcare system has all of the people in Congress scrambling to find a way to continue financing a terribly broken system by reducing benefits to senior citizens.

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