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Nov 15 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that its ratings on U.S. hospital operator Community Health Systems Inc. (B+/Stable/--) are unaffected by the company's proposed bank amendment that would revise its debt covenants. Most notably, the company is seeking to prevent the stepdown in its leverage covenant to 5x from 5.5x on Dec. 31, 2013. The amendment would replace that stepdown with a stepdown to 5.25x on Jan. 1, 2015, remaining at that level for the life of the facility. In our view, the avoidance of this near-term stepdown adds to our confidence that Community's cushion on this covenant will remain over 15%, supporting our "adequate" liquidity profile (based on our criteria). The rating on Community is based on our assessment of the company's business risk profile as "fair," reflecting its relatively diversified hospital portfolio as well as its significant reimbursement risk. We consider the financial risk profile as "highly leveraged," reflecting leverage above 5x and funds from operations to lease-adjusted debt at a stable level near 14%. Community owns and operates acute care hospitals.