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.