Hospital stocks are up in mid-day trading Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in the case on health insurance subsidies. The optimism stems in part from concerns expressed by Justice Robert Kennedy about a decision that would force states to create their own exchanges or lose federal money. Such a development, Kennedy said, would upset the balance between the federal government and the states.
At about noon, shares of HCA Holdings (Ticker: HCA) and Community Health Systems (Ticker: CYH) both were up about 6 percent. In HCA's case, that jump put them at a new all-time high. Shares of LifePoint Hospitals (Ticker: LPNT) were up roughly 3 percent.
A bankruptcy judge has ruled that Quorum Health Resources, a Community Health Systems subsidiary, can be held liable for negligence that occurred in one of its client hospitals.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center of Alamogordo, to which Quorum provided top executives, was sued after patients received experimental treatments for back pain.
The suit alleged an anesthesiologist, and not an orthopedic surgeon, administered the patients treatments, which were not supported by medical literature. The suit stalled when the New Mexico hospital filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
The opinion by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz paves the way for the former patients of Dr. Christian Schlicht to seek damages from Quorum Health Resources, which provided top executives for Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center of Alamogordo…'While there is little doubt negligence occurred, the Court must focus on the role and responsibility of a hospital management company in deciding whether and to what extend Quorum should be held accountable for what happened,' the ruling says.
Community Health Systems announced Monday it has acquired full ownership of five Oklahoma hospitals through a buyout of INTEGRIS Health.
The five hospitals were previously owned through a joint venture between INTEGRIS Health and Health Management Associates, which CHS bought in January 2015.
The network comprises 53-bed Blackwell Regional Hospital in Blackwell, 56-bed Clinton Regional Hospital in Clinton, 25-bed Marshall County Medical Center in Madill, 52-bed Mayes County Medical Center in Pryor and 32-bed Seminole Medical Center in Seminole.
CHS also announced it has completed the sale of two hospitals in Alabama and Texas to California-based Prime Healthcare. Shares of the company (Ticker: CYH) rose nearly 2 percent closed Monday to $49.45. In the last six months, they're down 8.5 percent.
Community Health Systems President and CFO Larry Cash on Wednesday exercised a big block of stock options that would have expired in July. The longtime wingman of CHS boss Wayne Smith paid about $40 to exercise the 200,000 options and sold 195,000 of them for almost $48. The transactions generated a profit of more than $1.2 million for Cash, who still owns 150,000 other options exercisable at prices between $18 and $38. CHS shares (Ticker: CYH) rose nicely Thursday to close at $48.79 but are down about 10 percent year to date.
Avondale Partners analyst Paula Torch said Community Health Systems' lowered 2015 earnings guidance could represent a buying opportunity for investors.
In a report issued Friday, Torch said the Franklin company's guidance of $3.40 to $4.05 is conservative at the low end and achievable at the midpoint, but could drop share prices for CHS, which has "solid expectations for 2015."
Torch maintained her 'market outperform' rating and $62 price target for the company. Shares of CHS (Ticker: CYH) closed at $49.88 Friday afternoon. In the last three months, they're up about 6 percent but are down about 3.5 percent in the last six months.
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