AHA Pushes Back on Politico’s Description of Nonprofit Hospital Financials

https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/finance/aha-pushes-back-politicos-description-nonprofit-hospital-financials

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he American Hospital Association’s general counsel said Politico “cherry-picked” metrics from a recent Moody’s report.

In a blog post Wednesday, American Hospital Association (AHA) General Counsel Melinda Hatton rebuked Politico’s characterization of a recent Moody’s report on nonprofit hospital financials in 2018.

Hatton charged that Politico “cherry-picked” metrics from the report, homed in on a “single measure of financial viability,” and “ignored much of the medians data that tell a more complete story.”

Writing that the story “does not accurately capture financial pressures facing hospitals,” Hatton continued that the Moody’s report only represents a mid-year glimpse at nonprofit hospital finances. 

The public back and forth began with the May 13 edition of Politico’s Pulse newsletter, which described the state of U.S. hospitals as “OK,” citing data from Moody’s that indicated nonprofit hospital revenues grew faster than costs for the first time since 2015.

While mentioning that the average operating margin of nonprofit hospitals was 1.7% last year, Politico also noted that average operating cash flow margins finished at 8%.

Politico stated that industry observers regard operating cash flow margin as a better reflection of “how much money a hospital is actually collecting” than the operating margin.

Politico’s description tied into the push for greater accountability from hospitals regarding high prices, specifically referencing a recent RAND Corp. study that found private insurers paid more than twice what Medicare paid to hospitals in 2017.

Hospital groups like the AHA and the Federal of American Hospitals pushed back on the RAND study from last week, taking issue with its sample size and reliance on Medicare payment rates as the benchmark for hospital prices.

Writing about the Moody’s report, Hatton wrote that while hospitals did experience a “modest uptick” in revenue growth last year, such growth trailed historical levels as hospitals faced challenging patient volumes, low reimbursement rates, and shifting payer mixes.

She also noted that the Moody’s report found that inpatient services remained flat in 2018, widespread provider consolidation has offered “stability in light of downward financial pressures,” and that hospitals are continuing to put “efficiency improvements” into place.

“Many of the expenses hospitals’ are experiencing now, and will likely experience in the future, are beyond their control,” Hatton wrote. “Wages and benefits are the single largest cost for hospitals, and are likely to increase in the future as the nation experiences a robust labor market, and a nursing shortage persists in many communities. The high cost of specialty drugs is also a driver of the cost of care.”

“These complexities make for a nuanced story, but any story worth telling is worth telling well,” Hatton wrote.

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Rules 340B Cuts Unlawful, Decision Applauded by Industry Stakeholders

https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/finance/judge-rules-340b-cuts-unlawful-decision-applauded-industry-stakeholders?spMailingID=15621129&spUserID=MTg2ODM1MDE3NTU1S0&spJobID=1640683769&spReportId=MTY0MDY4Mzc2OQS2

A federal judge reaffirmed his view that the cuts by HHS to the discount drug program are unlawful.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

In a joint statement, three hospital plaintiffs urged HHS to follow the judge’s directive.

340B Health added their approval in a statement, asking the agency to “act quickly.”

A status report regarding HHS’ progress remedying the situation must be submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras by August 5.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras again ruled Monday evening that the 340B drug reimbursement rate that Health and Human Services set in the 2019 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rule is unlawful, a decision that earned praise from various industry stakeholders. 

Five months after first vacating the 22% cut in 340B payments that HHS Secretary Alex Azar proposed late last year, Contreras reiterated that the cuts were implemented “in contravention of the Medicare Act’s plain text.”

Medicare Part B will sell prescription drugs to hospitals participating in the program at the average selling price plus 6%, well above the average selling price minus 22.5% as HHS had proposed.

“The Court also concludes that, despite the fatal flaw in the agency’s rate adjustments, vacating HHS’ 2018 and 2019 rules is not the best course of action, given the havoc vacatur may wreck on Medicare’s administration,” Contreras wrote in the 22-page ruling.

HHS will have “first crack” at crafting appropriate remedies for the two rules, according to the ruling.

Tuesday, three hospital plaintiffs applauded the ruling as a positive development for the embattled federal program, which has been deemed wasteful and rife with abuse by critics who demand additional oversight and accountability.

“America’s 340B hospitals are pleased with the District Court’s decision and urge HHS to follow the judge’s directive to promptly resolve the harm caused by its unlawful cuts to Medicare reimbursement for certain 340B hospitals,” the American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, and America’s Essential Hospitals said in a joint statement. “The ruling reaffirmed that the 2018 cuts were unlawful and extended that ruling to the 2019 cuts. Owing to the complexity of the Medicare program, the judge gave HHS first crack at fashioning a remedy for its unlawful actions. He also asked for a report from HHS on its progress on or before August 5, 2019. We urge HHS to promptly comply with the judge’s ruling and restore to 340B hospitals all funds that have been unlawfully withheld.”

HHS has not issued a statement regarding Monday’s ruling and did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication. 

The December ruling by Contreras did have a material impact on nonprofit hospitals, according to Moody’s Investor Service, which determined in early January that the reversion of the cuts would lead to improved operating performance.

340B Health, an advocacy group for the federal program, also issued a statement Tuesday afternoon applauding Contreras’ ruling.

“On behalf of the nearly 1,400 hospitals we represent that participate in 340B, we are pleased that the court has, once again, found that HHS exceeded its statutory authority by cutting what Medicare pays for outpatient drugs delivered to their patients,” Maureen Testoni, CEO of 340B Health, said in a statement. “The cuts made in 2018 and again in 2019 have reduced hospitals’ ability to care for those in need. The sooner this policy is reversed, the better hospitals will be able to serve the needs of patients with low incomes and those in rural communities. HHS must act quickly, as any further delay will only harm patients and the hospitals they rely on for care.”

Nearly 2,500 hospitals currently participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which was created in 1992 to assist safety-net and low-income providers purchase prescription drugs.

A status report regarding HHS’ progress remedying the situation must be submitted to Judge Contreras by August 5. 

 

 

9 hospitals with strong finances

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/9-hospitals-with-strong-finances-040819.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

Here are nine hospitals and health systems with strong operational metrics and solid financial positions, according to recent reports from Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.

1. South Bend, Ind.-based Beacon Health System has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a strong financial profile, and is the acute care leader in its market, according to Fitch.

2. Los Angeles-based Cedars Sinai Medical Center has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital has a solid market presence in a competitive service area and strong profitability and liquidity, according to Fitch.

3. St. Cloud, Minn.-based CentraCare Health has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a strong operating risk profile and a leading market position over a broad service area, according to Fitch.

4. Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Children’s Hospital and Health System has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has a strong financial profile and is the dominant provider of tertiary and quaternary pediatric services in southeastern Wisconsin, according to Moody’s.

5. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The hospital has a strong market position and exceptional financial resources to support high capital needs, according to Moody’s.

6. Concord (N.H.) Hospital has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital has a strong financial profile and a leading market share position, according to Fitch.

7. Portland-based Oregon Health and Sciences University has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has solid operating performance, strong clinical offerings and includes the only academic medical center in Oregon, according to Moody’s.

8. Clermont, Fla.-based South Lake Hospital has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital’s operating performance has improved in recent years due to its partnership with Orlando (Fla.) Health, according to Fitch.

9. Iowa City-based University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The system’s strong brand and position as the only academic medical center in Iowa will continue to translate into strong market share and high patient demand, according to Moody’s.

 

12 health systems with strong finances

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/12-health-systems-with-strong-finances-031219.html

 

Here are 12 health systems with strong operational metrics and solid financial positions, according to recent reports from Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings.

1. Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has strong cash flow margins, and its favorable demographics will contribute to volume and revenue growth, according to Moody’s.

2. Newark, Del.-based Christiana Care has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has solid margins and a robust balance sheet, according to Moody’s.

3. Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Health System has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system is a leading provider of tertiary and quaternary services and has solid margins and cash levels, according to Moody’s.

4. Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial HealthCarehas an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. Moody’s expects that the health system’s operating model and comprehensive IT systems will enable it to execute growth strategies while maintaining strong margins.

5. Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The credit rating agency expects Novant to continue generating strong cash flow margins in favorable markets.

6. Boston-based Partners HealthCare has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s and an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with S&P. The health system has an excellent reputation in the clinical and research spaces, a long track record of fundraising, and adequate balance sheet measures, according to Moody’s.

7. St. Louis-based SSM Health Care has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. SSM has a strong financial profile, and Fitch expects the system to continue growing unrestricted liquidity and to maintain improved operational performance.

8. Appleton, Wis.-based ThedaCare has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a leading market share in a stable service area and strong operating performance, according to Fitch.

9. Cincinnati-based TriHealth has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. Fitch expects the health system to maintain good operating ratios, leading to liquidity growth.

10. Iowa City-based University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The system’s strong brand and position as the only academic medical center in Iowa will continue to translate into strong market share and high patient demand, according to Moody’s.

11. York, Pa.-based WellSpan Health has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a leading market position in south-central Pennsylvania and a strong financial profile, according to Fitch.

12. Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has a leading market position in Connecticut, with a broad reach for tertiary and quaternary patients from throughout the state, and strong brand recognition, according to Moody’s.

 

 

20 recent hospital, health system outlook and credit rating actions

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/20-recent-hospital-health-system-outlook-and-credit-rating-actions.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

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The following hospital and health system credit rating and outlook changes or affirmations occurred in the last two weeks, beginning with the most recent:

1. Fitch upgrades Cottage Health rating to ‘AA-‘

Fitch Ratings assigned an issuer default rating of “AA-” to Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Cottage Health and upgraded its revenue bond rating from “A+” to “AA-.”

2. Moody’s assigns ‘A1’ rating to Bexar County Hospital District

Moody’s Investors Service assigned an “A1” rating to Bexar County (Texas) Hospital District.

3. Moody’s confirms ‘Ba1’ ratings for Monroe County Health Authority

Moody’s Investors Service confirmed its “Ba1” issuer and general obligation limited tax ratings for Monroe County (Ala.) Health Care Authority.

4. Moody’s affirms ‘A3’ rating for The Christ Hospital

Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed its “A3” rating for Cincinnati-based The Christ Hospital, affecting $311 million of outstanding debt.

5. Moody’s assigns ‘Aa3’ rating to Partners Healthcare System

Moody’s Investors Service assigned an “A3” rating to Boston-based Partners Healthcare’s proposed revenue bonds.

6. Moody’s affirms ‘Aa2’ rating for Northwestern Memorial HealthCare

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its “Aa2,” “Aa2/VMIG 1,” and “P-1” ratings for Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, affecting $1.1 billion of debt.

7. Moody’s affirms Yale New Haven Health’s ‘Aa3’ rating

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the long-term underlying “Aa3” ratings of Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health, affecting $715 million of rated debt.

8. Moody’s assigns ‘A2’ rating to Kettering Health Network

Moody’s Investors Service assigned an “A2” rating to Dayton, Ohio-based Kettering Health Network.

9. S&P assigns ‘A+’ rating to Indiana’s Marion General Hospital

S&P Global Ratings assigned an “A+” long-term rating to Marion (Ind.) General Hospital.

10. Moody’s affirms ‘Ba3’ rating for Antelope Valley Healthcare District

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its “Ba3” rating for Lancaster, Calif.-based Antelope Valley Health District, which includes Antelope Valley Hospital, affecting $122 million of revenue bonds.

11. Moody’s affirms ‘Ba2’ rating for Community Memorial Health System

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed Ventura, Calif.-based Community Memorial Health System’s “Ba2” rating, affecting $339 million of rated debt.

12. Moody’s affirms ‘A2’ rating for University of Maryland Medical System

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its “A2” rating for the Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical System, affecting $1.1 billion of outstanding debt.

13. Moody’s affirms ‘B1’ rating for Sauk Prairie Healthcare

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its “B1” rating for Sauk Prairie Healthcare in Prairie du Sac, Wis., affecting $38 million of fixed rate bonds.

14. Moody’s affirms ‘A3’ rating for Excela Health

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed Greensburg, Pa.-based Excela Health’s “A3” rating, affecting $72 million of outstanding debt.

15. Moody’s affirms Northwest Community Hospital’s ‘A2’ rating

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its “A2” rating for Arlington Heights, Ill.-based Northwest Community Hospital, affecting $194 million of rated debt.

16. Fitch assigns ‘AA-‘ long-term rating to Trinity Health

Fitch Ratings assigned an “AA-” long-term rating to Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, affecting $175 million of bonds.

17. Fitch withdraws rating for Greenwich Hospital

Fitch Ratings has withdrawn its issuer default rating for Greenwich (Conn.) Hospital.

18. Fitch assigns ‘A’ rating to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

Fitch Ratings has assigned an “A” rating and an “A” issuer default rating to Knoxville-based East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

19. Moody’s affirms ‘A1’ rating for Lexington County Health Services District

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its “A1” rating for Lexington County (S.C.) Health Services District, affecting $369 million of outstanding revenue bonds.

20. Moody’s assigns ‘A1’ rating to Munson Healthcare

Moody’s Investors Service assigned an “A1” long-term rating to the proposed revenue refunding bonds for Traverse City, Mich.-based Munson Healthcare while also maintaining an “A1” rating on the system’s existing debt.

8 health systems with strong finances

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/8-health-systems-with-strong-finances-010719.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

Here are eight hospitals and health systems with strong operational metrics and solid financial positions, according to recent reports from Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Hospital and health system names were compiled from recent credit rating reports and are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has strong cash flow margins and its favorable demographics will contribute to volume and revenue growth, according to Moody’s.

2. Orange, Calif.-based Children’s Hospital of Orange County has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital has a strong financial profile, and Fitch expects its capital-related ratios to improve.

3. Newark, Del.-based Christiana Care has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has solid margins and a robust balance sheet, according to Moody’s.

4. Fort Worth, Texas-based Cook Children’s Medical Center has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The hospital has a strong market position and solid operating performance, according to Moody’s.

5. Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Health System has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system is a leading provider of tertiary and quaternary services and has solid margins and cash levels, according to Moody’s.

6. St. Louis-based SSM Health Care has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. SSM has a strong financial profile, and Fitch expects the system to continue growing unrestricted liquidity and to maintain improved operational performance.

7. Appleton, Wis.-based ThedaCare has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a leading market share in a stable service area and strong operating performance, according to Fitch.

8. Cincinnati-based TriHealth has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. Fitch expects the health system to maintain good operating ratios leading to liquidity growth.

 

12 health systems with strong finances

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/12-health-systems-with-strong-finances-120618.html?origin=rcme&utm_source=rcme

Here are 12 health systems with strong operational metrics and solid financial positions, according to recent reports from Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Health system names were compiled from recent credit rating reports and are listed in alphabetical order.

1. St. Louis-based Ascension has an “Aa2” senior debt rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has a large diversified portfolio of sizable hospitals and strong liquidity. Moody’s expects Ascension’s margins to improve in fiscal year 2019.

2. Wausau, Wis.-based Aspirus has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with S&P. The health system has solid debt and liquidity metrics, according to S&P.

3. Morristown, N.J.-based Atlantic Health System has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The system has a strong market position, favorable balance sheet ratios and strong operating performance, according to Moody’s.

4. Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with S&P. The health system has a strong operating profile, favorable payer mix, healthy financial performance and sustained volume growth, according to S&P.

5. Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Health System has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system is a leading provider of tertiary and quaternary services and has solid margins and cash levels, according to Moody’s.

6. Inova Health System has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The Falls Church, Va.-based health system has consistently strong cash-flow margins, a leading market position and a good investment position, according to Moody’s.

7. Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Health System has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has favorable liquidity metrics, strong fundraising capabilities, a healthy market position and regional brand recognition, according to Moody’s.

8. St. Louis-based Mercy Health has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has favorable cash-flow metrics, a solid strategic growth plan, a broad service area and improving operating margins, according to Moody’s.

9. Traverse City, Mich.-based Munson Healthcare has an “AA-” rating and positive outlook with Fitch. The health system has a leading market share in a favorable demographic area and a healthy net leverage position, according to Fitch.

10. Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a leading market position, robust reserves and strong cash flow, according to Fitch.

11. St. Louis-based SSM Health Care has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. SSM has a strong financial profile, and Fitch expects the system to continue growing unrestricted liquidity and to maintain improved operational performance.

12. Appleton, Wis.-based ThedaCare has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a leading market share in a stable service area and strong operating performance, according to Fitch.