Hospital Debt, Financial Practices Draw Investors’ Attention
Also in the news, The Wall Street Journal reports that consumers may be returning to the doctor after a period during which the difficult economy appeared to keep them away.
The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals' Debt Gets A Checkup
Hospitals are doling out a dose of bitter medicine in the form of riskier bonds. Investors hungry for higher yields in an environment of near-zero interest rates are clamoring for the municipal bonds issued by hospitals and other health-care facilities. Borrowers are capitalizing on this rising demand by dispensing with standard investor protections on their bonds (Nolan, 8/9).
Reuters: U.S. Hospital Companies Seen Under Microscope As Costs Targeted
Investors in U.S. hospital companies can expect more scrutiny of billing practices and the medical need for expensive treatments as the federal government faces greater pressure to recoup billions in fraudulent claims, analysts said. HCA Holdings Inc, the largest for-profit hospital operator in the United States, said earlier this week that federal authorities were investigating whether heart procedures performed at some of its facilities were medically necessary (Kelly, 8/9).
The Wall Street Journal: It May Be Time To See A Doctor
Years of economic drag have had some profound effects on Americans. One big one: They stopped going to the doctor as much as they used to. Now people may be starting to head back for checkups and other medical procedures. Any shift has important implications for the health-care sector and the broader economy, since the drought has helped restrain spending growth (Mathews and Kamp, 8/9).