TEXT-S&P: Health Management Associates ratings unchanged by news
Dec 4 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that its ratings on Naples, Fla.-based hospital operator Health Management Associates (B+/Stable/--) are unaffected by allegations aired on the news program 60 Minutes regarding HMA's admissions policies. The company disputes these allegations, and believes that its data indicate that its emergency room admissions and total patient admissions trends are consistent with historical and industry norms. While we expect there will be more investigations into this matter, we are not incorporating the news program's allegations into our view of the company's creditworthiness. Our rating on HMA reflects our assessment of its business risk profile as "weak," reflecting significant reimbursement risk and a hospital portfolio that is heavily concentrated within three states. We consider the financial risk profile as "aggressive," reflecting leverage in the low-4x range and our belief that the company is and will continue to be very acquisitive, resulting in leverage of about 4x to 5x over time.