* Former employees cite admissions quotas at HMA hospitals
* HMA denies admissions quotas, Medicare fraud
* Shares down 4.8 percent
By Susan Kelly
Dec 3 Shares of Health Management Associates
Inc fell about 5 percent on Monday after the television
news program 60 Minutes aired a story describing aggressive
patient admissions policies allegedly pursued at the company's
The story included interviews with several former employees
of the hospital chain who said they were pressured to meet
quotas for admitting patients.
HMA Senior Vice President Alan Levine told 60 Minutes the
allegations were "absolutely wrong".
In a statement released after the 60 Minutes broadcast, the
Naples, Florida-based hospital company said the report found no
issues with the quality of care at its hospitals and relied
entirely on "disgruntled" former employees and contracted
"Neither 60 Minutes nor the physicians interviewed
identified any admission decision in which a physician's medical
judgment was overridden by an HMA executive, much less to
defraud Medicare," HMA said.
HMA, which operates 70 hospitals in 15 states, said
admissions rates from its emergency rooms were in line with
industry standards and consistent over several years.
The company held a conference call for investors on Friday
ahead of the 60 Minutes report in which Levine said that HMA's
review showed there was no basis for an allegation of increased
admissions through the company's emergency departments.
CRT Capital Group analyst Sheryl Skolnick cut her rating on
HMA shares to "sell" from "fair value", citing the Medicare
fraud allegations in the 60 Minutes report.
"We believe there is significantly greater risk of a
deeper/wider (government) investigation and a substantially
higher risk that HMA may have to pay bigger fines to settle it,"
Skolnick wrote in a note to clients.
Among those interviewed for the television show was a former
director of compliance for HMA, Paul Meyer, who sued the company
for wrongful termination. Meyer accused the company of
committing Medicare fraud by billing the government for hospital
stays that did not meet government standards for admission or
HMA said it hired an outside law firm to investigate Meyer's
allegations, but it found no evidence to support an allegation
HMA shares were down 38 cents, or 4.8 percent, at $7.57 in
afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.