KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Denver Hospital Sale Completed; Iowa Hospitals’ Tax Exemption Probed

Colorado activists had objected to the sale of the nonprofit hospitals to a for-profit system. Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register analyzes hospitals spending on charity.

Denver Post: Sale Of State's Largest Hospital System, HealthONE, Is Final
The sale is final — Colorado Health Foundation received $1.45 billion Friday for its 40 percent stake in the state's largest hospital system, HCA/HealthONE. The nonprofit foundation, now divested of its share in seven hospitals, 8,700 employees and 3,000 affiliated physicians in the Denver metro area, made the deal to enhance its financial stability, said foundation president and chief executive Anne Warhover. The foundation supports more than 40 primary-care clinics serving rural, uninsured, Medicaid and other underserved patient populations (Draper, 10/15).

Modern Healthcare: HCA Completes HealthOne Deal
HCA, Nashville, has completed its $1.45 billion buy-out of Colorado Health Foundation's ownership in the HealthOne joint venture, according to a news release—a day after the deal won conditional approval from the state's attorney general and even as critics of the deal weighed their options to keep up the fight. In his opinion, John Suthers, the Colorado attorney general, responded to public demand for greater guarantees before the deal could proceed. Suthers set new stipulations on HCA's $1.45 billion deal for HealthOne, including a guarantee that seven acute-care hospitals must remain open for at least five years (Evans and Galloro, 10/14).

Des Moines Register: Hospitals Avoid Taxes Despite Little Free Care
Scores of Iowa hospitals are exempt from most taxes because they're classified as charities, but some spend less than 1 percent of their money on free care for the poor, a Des Moines Register analysis shows. At issue are tens of millions of dollars in taxes on property and income that hospitals are excused from paying because of their charity status (Leys, 10/15).

Meanwhile, in other news:

Boston Globe: State To Restore Holding Of Beds
The Patrick administration has reportedly dropped its plan to end a program that reserves a nursing home resident's bed during brief hospitalizations or visits to family. Advocates for the elderly and disabled worked feverishly to save the "bed hold"’ program, which was scheduled to end Nov. 1 in a cost-saving move. Scott Plumb -- a vice president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, which represents nursing homes -- said yesterday that he received a call from a senior Medicaid staff member informing him that the program would not be scrapped (Lazar, 10/15).

Baltimore Sun: St. Joseph Hospital Seeks Strategic Partnership
St. Joseph Medical Center is looking to partner with other hospitals as it continues to lose patients and revenue in the wake of problems with its lead cardiologist — a move that experts say might even lead to a merger. The Towson hospital has asked area hospitals to present options for forming a "strategic partnership" that its executives hope would improve the quality of care and services to patients (Walker, 10/16).

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