Health Mgmt expects critical '60 Minutes' segment

Health Management shares slip as company says '60 Minutes' will air story about ER admissions

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Health Management Associates Inc. traded lower Friday after the hospital operator said "60 Minutes" is about to broadcast a critical report about its admissions policies.

Health Management Associates said the CBS newsmagazine program has confirmed that it will air a segment related to the company on Sunday. The "60 Minutes" website does not mention Health Management Associates by name but says the next broadcast will look into "allegations from doctors that the hospital chain they worked for pressured them to admit patients regardless of their medical needs."

The Naples, Fla., company said in July that a "60 Minutes" producer had been in touch with former emergency room physicians at one of its hospitals, Carlisle Regional Medical Center.

The company said Friday that it does not know the exact content of the story, but Alan Levine, who is in charge of its Florida business, was interviewed for the story. Levine said he was asked about testing protocols and excessive ER admissions. He said testing is determined by hospital staff, and the company provided CBS with government data showing its emergency room admissions are not excessive.

In a note published Thursday afternoon, after the company made its announcement and prior to the conference call, Jefferies & Co. analyst Brian Tanquilut said he expects the stock to be volatile in the wake of the report. He expects "sustained volatility" in Health Management Associates shares into early 2013 because of the "60 Minutes" story as well as fiscal cliff negotiations, which could affect government reimbursement payments to hospitals.

Health Management shares fell as much as 4 percent Friday, and closed down 12 cents at $7.95.

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