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SEC inquiry sparks concern about HCA IPO

For-profit hospital chain HCA is under investigation into alleged payroll fraud at one of its hospitals in England. Analysts are wondering whether that will affect any plans to take the privately held company back to the stock market. HCA, based in Nashville, Tenn., operates 163 hospitals and 112 outpatient centers in 20 states and in England. It has been privately held since a 2006 buyout. Private investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts owns the majority stake in HCA. The New York-based firm has announced its intention to take other holdings public, fueling speculation about HCA. A statement from HCA about the investigation said a former employee who worked in the payroll department in London has sued the hospital chain and "has made assertions about the accuracy of our nurse scheduling systems and the related compensation paid in our six U.K. hospitals." London authorities declined to investigate, the HCA statement said. The statement continued, "her allegations have n ...

H1N1 vaccine shortage leaves doctors managing crowds, anxieties

The unexpected delays in producing influenza (A)H1N1 vaccine, coupled with the virus' rapid spread, have left doctors nationwide scrambling to determine how to allocate meager vaccine supplies, and manage offices full of sick and worried patients and their families. "People are scared. People are frightened. And they're feeling like, 'Oh my God, I need the vaccine and it's not available,' " said John Sage, MD, a family physician and medical staff president at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. As of Oct. 23, around 11.3 million vaccine doses had been shipped to communities across the country, which is "nowhere near" the amount the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected to have in circulation by then, said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. Meanwhile, the H1N1 virus has swelled to epidemic levels nationwide -- pandemic globally -- with widespread flu activity reported in 46 states by Oct. 17. People are waiting in line for hours at community vaccin ...

Failed Senate vote clouds future of SGR reform

Washington -- Advocates of Medicare physician payment reform turned their attention to the House after the late October procedural defeat of a Senate bill that would have repealed the current system and effectively frozen pay rates for the next 10 years. House Democratic leaders restated a commitment to permanent pay reform soon after Senate Democrats failed on Oct. 21 to secure 60 votes to force floor consideration of the Medicare Physician Fairness Act. The bill, by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D, Mich.), would have abandoned the current sustainable growth rate formula and set future annual payment updates at zero, a revision that would cost roughly $245 billion over 10 years. But Republicans and a handful of Democrats opposed to increasing the federal deficit by passing the legislation with no offsets defeated the motion. The final tally was 47-53. Despite the setback, House Democratic leaders say they are strongly committed to passing a payment solution in conjunction with statut ...