Saturday, January 20, 2018
Health

Bayfront leaders question new HMA partners after critical '60 Minutes' report

ST. PETERSBURG — Bayfront Medical Center leaders said Monday they were questioning their new partners at Health Management Associates after a critical investigation by CBS's 60 Minutes on the company's medical practices.

In a televised report on Sunday, the for-profit hospital chain was accused of pressuring doctors at some of its hospitals nationally to admit patients, regardless of medical need, to increase revenues.

Those allegations, which HMA denies, haven't changed Bayfront's plans to sell the Naples-based company an 80 percent stake in its St. Petersburg hospital, officials said during an interview with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board.

"We as a board are asking lots of questions about this, so we can assure ourselves that we aren't inviting a trickster," said attorney Steven Dupré, who is vice chairman of Bayfront's board of trustees and head of a committee tasked with its strategic development.

HMA also has disclosed in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings that federal authorities have been investigating certain aspects of the company, including "the medical necessity of emergency room tests and patient admissions."

But from Bayfront's perspective, Dupré said, HMA has been forthcoming about the investigations. And officials note that many large health care companies have drawn regulators' scrutiny.

Last month, six hospitals in the nonprofit BayCare Health System — the largest hospital system in the Tampa Bay region — agreed to pay the federal government more than $10 million to settle a nearly four-year investigation into allegations that they overbilled for cardiac procedures for Medicare patients. Officials admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, which they blamed on billing confusion.

"Find me an medical organization that isn't audited at any point in time … (and) is pristine and that would be terrific," Dupré said. "What's important to Bayfront, we aren't being bamboozled, we aren't being misled into joining forces with an organization whose policy is to commit Medicare fraud."

The HMA-Bayfront deal is now in due diligence phase. Any change of ownership at Bayfront must be approved by St. Petersburg, which owns the land the hospital sits on. Officials hope to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Comments
Expect some pain. Thatís what hospitals are starting to tell patients as concern spreads over opioids

Expect some pain. Thatís what hospitals are starting to tell patients as concern spreads over opioids

Doctors at some of the largest U.S. hospital chains admit they went overboard with opioids to make people as pain-free as possible, and now they shoulder part of the blame for the nationís opioid crisis. In an effort to be part of the cure, theyíve b...
Published: 01/19/18
Itís flu season, and how: Hereís what you need to know

Itís flu season, and how: Hereís what you need to know

Cristi Fryberger, a fifth-grade teacher, was headed back for the first day of classes at St. Petersburg Christian School after the Christmas break but didnít feel well. She left a couple of hours later and went to an urgent care clinic, where a swab ...
Published: 01/19/18
This 66-year-old is about to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents

This 66-year-old is about to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents

When Robert Owensís father was 75, he gave his son some advice. "He said, ĎYou know, son, the sad part is when you get old they just put you on a shelf and you become irrelevant. Fight to stay relevant. Fight to stay in the game, otherwise they will ...
Published: 01/18/18
5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

Five things we learned about President Donald Trump from Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the doctor who oversaw Trumpís first medical checkup in office. SLEEP Trump doesnít get much shut-eye. Jackson guessed that Trump snoozes four to five hours a nig...
Published: 01/17/18
A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

WASHINGTON ó The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after one of historyís most catastrophic disease o...
Published: 01/17/18
A popular school fundraiser is just Ďjunk-food marketing to kids,í experts say

A popular school fundraiser is just Ďjunk-food marketing to kids,í experts say

For 43 years, schoolkids and their parents have clipped the labels from cookie bags and cracker boxes as part of a popular rewards program called Labels for Education.Through this and similar programs ó think Tysonís Project A+ or General Millsí Box ...
Published: 01/17/18
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you donít want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Published: 01/16/18

CDC says ĎThereís lots of flu in lots of places.í And itís not going away anytime soon.

A nasty flu season is in full swing across the United States, with a sharp increase in the number of older people and young children being hospitalized, federal health officials said Friday.The latest weekly data from the Centers for Disease Control ...
Published: 01/12/18
Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

SAFETY HARBOR ó Mease Countryside Hospital is launching a $156 million expansion to build a four-story patient tower with all private rooms and a four-story parking garage.The tower will include 70 private patient rooms, a 30-bed observation unit, cr...
Published: 01/11/18
Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

This yearís flu season is shaping up to be a bad one. Much of the country endured a bitterly cold stretch, causing more people to be crowded together inside. The strain that has been most pervasive, H3N2, is nastier than most. And, weíre being told, ...
Published: 01/11/18