HCA tries to beat NYT to punch again

Officials issue second online statement defending policies

HCA Holdings executives have responded, again, to a likely New York Times article questioning a myriad of the hospital owner’s policies and procedures, including alleged inappropriate variances to heart surgery candidate protocols over an eight-year period in several of its Florida hospitals.

HCA Holdings last Friday posted a statement to its website addressing these issues and others from reimbursement classification coding policies to uninsured admissions rules, an alleged high rate of pressure ulcers diagnosed and the cardiac procedure allegations which, if true, meant more folks were undergoing heart procedures than warranted in the Sunshine State.

The statement, linked here, begins with a detailing of HCA’s reliance on American College of Emergency Physicians guidelines for all of its emergent admissions classifications for reimbursement, apparently something Times reporters have questioned.

“We implemented this system, which is used by many hospitals, because it provides a greater consistency and simplicity than the point system HCA had previously used,” the statement reads.

At one point last week, HCA shares dropped 7 percent on the news that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami last month asked for information on the medical necessity of some heart procedures in Florida. The stock quickly recovered, however, and is now changing hands slightly above where it was before word of the investigations became public.

“HCA believes that such reviews have occurred at approximately 10 of its affiliated hospitals,” the company said in its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “At this time, we cannot predict what effect, if any, the request or any resulting claims, including any potential claims under the federal False Claims Act, other statutes, regulations or laws, could have on the Company.”