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HCA Investigations No Harm to its Finances

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, September 21, 2012

Despite what has been a more than month-long string of bad press for HCA, Inc., the financial performance of the nation's largest for-profit hospital operator hasn't weakened.

The latest blow came from the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday detailing the terms of a $16.5 million whistleblower suit against the industry giant. Still, HCA's stock price closed up 8 cents at $32.75 a share and its profits are robust, according to the company's latest quarterly report.

Healthcare industry analyst Sheryl Skolnick, PhD, of CRT Capital Group, says the hospital chain is weathering a tough investigative environment because of its size.

"To say that there's no financial impact? Sure, there is, but the company is so large and well capitalized that you don't see it. A smaller company might be more obvious," says Skolnick.

The DOJ agreement announced Wednesday says HCA agreed to settle allegations that two of its subsidiaries paid remuneration and other financial benefits to a doctors group in exchange for patient referrals.

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