BNB1: Must Read Stories

Excess Medicare Admissions Scandal

HCA is facing increased scrutiny as press coverage of their excessive Medicare emergency admissions practices continues to mount.

‘Michael Shaheen, a partner at Crowell & Moring who formerly worked in the DOJ's civil fraud division, said it seems like something HCA should investigate. It's not uncommon to see allegations like this from concerned shareholders or competitors, but this one details what could result in "very significant damages" if litigated, he said.

"If borne out, I think this would be a significant case for DOJ and/or for private insurers who sought private actions against HCA," Shaheen said. "The risk here is legitimate."’

‘The investment group noted in its October letter to HCA that, since 2009, elevated admissions could have yielded the health system some $1.6 billion in excess Medicare payments, equivalent to 7.6% of its net income from 2009 to 2018. Over the past five years, CtW noted that HCA could have received excess Medicare payments of $1.1 billion, or about 8.5% of net income.

"Plainly, this level of excess payment is sufficiently large that it creates a material risk of regulatory enforcement actions as well as private litigation," CtW wrote. That's because federal regulators consider how inappropriate billing practices affect public payers, and in the private sector, insurers would go through private litigation to seek remedy for excessive bills.’

‘Frist’s fortune has actually grown since the report was released earlier this week, up to $15.9 billion, according to Forbes. More than $4 billion of those gains have come since September, as HCA’s stock price has risen from $116.33 per share on Sept. 27 to $187.27 per share, as of Friday morning.

The Frists have a 20% stake in HCA, according to the report, which has been worth more than $7 billion since March 2016. The expansion of Frist’s bank account comes amid a U.S. economic and health crisis fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic.’

Founding Frist Family Make Headlines for Pandemic Profiteering

The founding family behind HCA, the Frists, made headlines repeatedly this month for how their personal wealth has dramatically increased during the pandemic as patients and workers struggled to survive. The family remains the company's largest shareholders.

As frontline HCA workers performed lifesaving work and fought for access to adequate PPE for poverty wages, the Frists have more than doubled their personal wealth in the last year. HCA has racked up near record profits as well in the same period, and CEO Sam Hazen was paid a salary 1,000 times greater than many of his frontline employees. As tens of thousands of frontline HCA workers earn under $15 an hour in the pandemic, the extreme inequity of Frist family wealth is sparking critique – and has earned them the title of healthcare’s worst Pandemic Profiteers in one new report.

‘The Frist family of Tennessee are the founders and biggest shareholders of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the largest for-profit hospital conglomerate in the U.S. Thomas F. Frist Jr. and his family have seen their personal wealth increase from $7.5 billion on March 18, 2020 to $15.6 billion on March 8, 2021, an increase of $8.1 billion or 108 percent, according to an analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies. . .

Of the 27 U.S. billionaires whose wealth comes from the health care sector, the Frists have seen the single greatest pandemic wealth gains, even compared to fortunes from big pharma and bio-tech. HCA is the only hospital owner on the list of 27 health care billionaires. . .

HCA has reaped enormous profits by squeezing workers and cutting costs, while showering top management with lavish compensation.’

HCA Workers Mark Eight Weeks of Protests with Direct Action

HCA hospitals have been rocked by repeated protests for months as frontline workers are forced to fight for adequate access to lifesaving PPE, living wages, and respect in their workplace. After eight weeks of consecutive protests at thirty hospitals, HCA workers escalated their demonstrations on Wednesday, staging direct actions inside their workplaces. Nurses and caregivers marched on hospital executives in delegations to deliver a universal set of formal demands around their call to "protect us, respect us, and pay us!" They have pledged to continue demonstrating until all HCA workers have a living wage, respect at work, and safe working conditions.

National HCA vs America Accountability Project Launches

Criticism Over HCA’s Role in Vaccinations

For-profit hospitals in the U.S. including HCA have come under fire for failing to lead by vaccinating the most vulnerable. After a vaccine scandal, HCA Good Samaritan in San Jose permanently closed their vaccine clinic. In MedPage Today, the Editor in Chief questioned if hospitals have done enough to help the most vulnerable with vaccinations.

‘Hospitals should stop giving excuses and start showing some leadership. At minimum, hospitals should use the seasonal flu shot protocols we already have in place to immunize clinic and hospitalized patients as we have for years. Every year since flu immunization of clinic and hospitalized patients became a quality metric, nearly every patient coming to see me in clinic and every patient I discharge from the hospital is offered the flu shot. Why can't hospitals include the COVID-19 vaccine in that offer? The reality is that some hospitals are already taking a stand for what's right. They have made a decision not to wait for their state guidance, and to go ahead and offer the vaccine to older Americans, both patients they identify as high-risk from their medical records and members of their community at large.’

Show your support for nurses and caregivers! Working people continue to demand things we all need at work: living wages, respect, and safety on the job. Click to R/T.

SEIU Texas ICYMI Covid Healthcare tweet