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For-profit hospitals report unreasonable annual profits to Medicare

Healthwatch reported on a Forbes article that appeared this week documenting the unreasonable profits generated by some for-profit hospitals.  According to the September 1 article, 24 hospitals with over 200 beds reported earning 25 cents profit on every dollar of patient revenue generated.  A TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT PROFIT MARGIN:  something any small business owner would drool to achieve, and apparently a result of the elimination of competition among hospitals and a lack of regulation in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.  At the same time, of course, the New York Times was reporting a continuing shift of unreasonable health care insurance costs from employers to employees:  according to an annual survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in an era of stagflation, health care premiums continued to rise and employees' share of coverage increased by 14% last year.  As a result, employees pay a record-high $4,000.00 for a family's annual coverage.  The total cost reached a record high, on average, of $13,770.00.

The Forbes article noted that hospital expenses constitute one-third of total health care costs and that the total national health care cost rose by 5.4% this year while consumer prices actually fell for the first time in 54 years.  The most profitable hospital, according to federally-mandated disclosures, was the Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Alabama, which reported a 53 percent operating margin.  The Hospital Corporation of America's (HCA) Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso came in second with a 45% profit margin.   That's interesting since HCA was founded by the family of Tennessee's former Republican Senator Bill Frist, and was run by Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott.  Scott was at the helm when an investigation began that ultimately resulted in HCA paying $1.7 BILLION dollars in fines for massive Medicare and Medicaid fraud.  Scott was canned by the Board of Directors but never prosecuted criminally (and then became a "vocal opponent of health care reform," spearheading the group "Conservatives for Patients' Rights [to be fleeced, apparently]." Now he's a candidate for Governor of Florida.  Bet his campaign is well funded.  If these reports are accurate, you have to question the old saying that 
"crime doesn't pay."
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