Thursday, August 07, 2014

Maybe the AG could help

Bruce Mohl at Commonwealth Magazine reports:

Steward Health Care is refusing to turn over to state officials its audited financial statements, setting off a behind-the-scenes tug of war that could lead to fines being assessed on the for-profit company.

Steward, which is owned by the New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, is notoriously tight-lipped about its finances. The only reliable source of information on the company's overall performance and its financial relationship with Cerberus has been its audited statements. For the past two years, Steward filed the statements with state regulators, who turned them over to CommonWealth in response to public records requests.

But this year, Steward is refusing to turn over the financial records. Mark Rich, Steward's chief financial officer, said in a June letter to state officials that the company provided detailed financial information on all of the hospitals it owns. Rich said Steward was not going to turn over the 2013 consolidated financial statement of the company as a whole because it "combines the results of hospital operations with our non-hospital businesses that are not covered by the regulations." 

Nancy Maroney, associate general counsel of the state's Center for Health Information Analysis, has insisted that state regulations require Steward to turn over the consolidated financial statements. She said in a June 9 letter that Steward could be subject to reductions in its Medicaid payments and other financial penalties if it refuses to comply.

I really hate to see such disputes escalate, and I have a suggestion as to how this one could be quickly resolved. Back in October 2010, when the Attorney General recommended approval of Steward's takeover of the Caritas Christi hospital system, she was able to get the following agreement:

Steward, and any successor-in-interest to Steward, will, notwithstanding its for-profit status, fully cooperate with any investigation, inquiry, study, report, or evaluation conducted by the Attorney General under her oversight authority of the non-profit charitable hospital industry to the same extent and subject to the same protections and privileges as if Steward were a public charity.

So all it takes is for the Attorney General to announce to Steward that she wants this information as part of a joint study with CHIA.  Perhaps she will make that offer to CHIA.


e-Patient Dave said...

As your comment list says right now: "Noooooo comment."

Oh wait: "This stuff makes me puke."

Cerberus. The hellhound.

don b said...

Paul, any updates on the financial health of Steward? They are increasingly looking weak??