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HCA/HealthONE’s deal doesn’t need top scrutiny, CO AG rules

The Denver Post, September 9, 2011

HCA/HealthONE's $1.45 billion purchase of hospital interests from the Colorado Health Foundation is not a "conversion" of a nonprofit and therefore doesn't require the strictest state scrutiny, the Colorado attorney general said Thursday. But the sale of the foundation's half-ownership in Rose, Swedish, Sky Ridge and other hospitals is still a critical public health interest and requires hearings and a statutory review, Attorney General John Suthers added. A lower level of state common law allows Suthers to review the deal and seek comment, aimed at ensuring the foundation continues to operate as a charity with a community benefit. Public hearings will be held Sept. 26 and 27. Critics of the sale to for-profit HCA/HealthONE, which currently co-owns the hospital group with the foundation, said they are disappointed but will continue their objections. They have said they fear the Nashville, Tenn.- based for-profit cannot be trusted to continue charity care, Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and other community programs at the same level without the foundation as a watchdog. The Denver Post reported earlier this week that the final contract between the two does guarantee 10 years of Medicare and Medicaid service, and meeting current charity-care levels.