Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

HMA defends itself ahead of '60 Minutes' investigative piece

TALLAHASSEE — The Naples-based hospital chain Health Management Associates rushed Friday to try to defend itself against a critical story that the CBS News program 60 Minutes is expected to broadcast today about hospital admissions of emergency-room patients.

Alan Levine, an HMA senior vice president and Florida Group president, said during a conference call with media and analysts that the company is not certain of the details of the 60 Minutes report. But Levine, a former secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, represented the company in an interview with the show in October and said questions included whether HMA has excessive admissions from emergency rooms.

Levine said data show that the company's emergency-patient admissions are in line with the rest of the hospital industry. Also, he tried to stress that patients' doctors, not hospital officials, make decisions about whether admissions are needed.

"Simply put, administrators cannot and do not admit patients," he said.

In October, St. Petersburg's Bayfront Medical Center announced plans to join HMA's chain of hospitals. Bayfront and HMA plan to close the deal in March pending approval from the city of St. Petersburg, which owns the land on which the hospital sits.

The 60 Minutes website Friday included a thumbnail description of the report — dubbed "The Cost of Admission." John Merriwether, HMA's vice president of financial operations, said the company was informed late Thursday that the investigative piece would air.

"Steve Kroft investigates allegations from doctors that the hospital chain they worked for pressured them to admit patients regardless of their medical needs,'' the 60 Minutes website description says, referring to one of the highly rated program's correspondents.

HMA disclosed in previous U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission filings that federal authorities have been investigating certain aspects of the company, including "the medical necessity of emergency room tests and patient admissions."

It said the investigations had been opened by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice, with at least part of the issue focused on whether a type of emergency-room software led to unnecessary admissions or tests. The federal government has a huge stake in such issues because of the Medicare program.

At least part of the 60 Minutes focus could be on HMA's Carlisle Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania. The Patriot-News newspaper in Harrisburg, Pa., reported in July that a 60 Minutes producer had contacted former Carlisle Regional doctors and asked questions about issues such as whether emergency-room doctors faced pressure to admit patients.

When asked Friday about whether 60 Minutes is focusing on other hospitals in addition to Carlisle Regional, Levine responded, "At this point, we don't know."

HMA has 70 hospitals in 15 states, with the largest concentrations in Florida, Alabama and North Carolina, according to the company's website. The company's 22 Florida hospitals are generally in small or medium-sized markets.

HMA is also a prominent player in hospital-related issues in Tallahassee. Its roster of lobbyists includes figures such as former state Republican Chairman Al Cardenas.

HMA defends itself ahead of '60 Minutes' investigative piece 12/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 1, 2012 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Blogs

    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102