Locally based HCA Holdings and RegionalCare Hospital Partners are two of the four entities that have submitted bids to buy or lease Citrus Memorial Hospital, a struggling facility located north of Tampa. Also in the mix are Health Management Associates — which itself may be hitting the auction block soon — and a Tampa hospital. Citrus Memorial is in financial hot water and recently had its debt ratings downgraded by both Moody's and Fitch.
Despite upping its bid from $138.7 million to $200 million at the last minute, Duke LifePoint has lost out on the rights to run a Florida hospital for the next 40 years.
The Post reported last week about a bidding war over Munroe Regional Medical Center between Duke LifePoint, a joint venture of Duke University and Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals, and Florida-based Health Management Associates.
Late last week, the hospital’s board of trustees voted 6-1 in favor of HMA’s bid. One trustee told the Star Banner, Ocala’s daily newspaper, that he voted for the HMA deal because the company had a stronger footprint in the Sunshine State. The trustee said he was afraid Duke LifePoint would pay more attention to hospitals in states, such as North Carolina, where it oversees more facilities.
HMA also sweetened the pot at the last minute with an offer to invest $1.5 million in the Ocala community.
What difference does $60 million make when you are determined to buy a hospital in Florida?
Duke LifePoint, a joint venture of Duke University and Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals, has increased its bid for Ocala-based Munroe Regional Medical Center from $138.7 million to $200 million, according to the Star Banner, Ocala’s daily newspaper.
The current $200 million bid is equal to Health Management Associates’ offer for the 421-bed hospital. HMA is a for-profit provider based in Florida. The Star Banner article (read more here) reports the hospital’s management was alarmed at the more than $60 million discrepancy between the bids and was seriously considering the bid from HMA, despite having the opportunity to work in a partnership with a high-profile national name such as Duke.
"We believe this potential relationship is an excellent match for both of our organizations, and we have a great opportunity to work together to enhance healthcare delivery throughout Marion County and the surrounding region,” Diane Huggins, LifePoint's vice president of corporate communications, wrote in a statement to the Star Banner. “The increase in the offer made by Duke LifePoint demonstrates our confidence in our ability to add significant value to secure the future success of the hospital.”
LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) owns or leases nearly 60 hospitals in 20 states, but only one in Florida. HMA owns or operates 22 hospitals throughout Florida.
As legislation that would make it easier for HCA to grow its trauma center blueprint in Florida moves forward, nonprofit hospital advocates are airing television attack ads against for-profit chains. Some predict a showdown in the Florida state legislature as early as next week.
Opponents of allowing for greater ease of trauma unit expansions say too much growth in this arena would be bad for patients. They contend it could lead to a lower quality of care and increased costs at existing trauma centers.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (pictured), a founder of Columbia HCA (now HCA), and the state health department support HCA in the matter. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health is currently writing new rules for trauma centers.
For more, go here.
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