KHI News Service

Judge rules hospital chain owes $162 million to Kansas City health foundation

HCA says it will appeal decision

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | January 24, 2013

A Missouri district court judge ruled today that Hospital Corporation of America must pay about $162 million and attorneys' fees to the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

The foundation sued the hospital company in 2009, challenging its compliance with the terms of its 2002 purchase of the nonprofit Health Midwest system, which then operated 11 hospitals in Missouri and Kansas.

According to the foundation, HCA was obliged by the terms of the sale to make $450 million in capital improvements to the facilities and provide more than $500 million in charity care to patients.

“As a voice for the uninsured and underserved, the (foundation's board of directors) felt it had the fiduciary responsibility to make sure that this population had been afforded the services promised to them through the sale of Health Midwest,” Karen Cox, the foundation board's chair, said in a prepared statement. “We appreciate the decision the court has made today and we look forward to continuing our work eliminating barriers and promoting quality health for the uninsured and underserved in our service area.”

The ruling came from Judge John Torrence in Jackson County. He also ordered an independent accounting of several hundred million dollars that the hospital chain claimed to have spent.

"Obviously, we are disappointed in the court's ruling, and we intend to appeal," said Susan Kaufmann, a spokesperson for HCA Midwest Health System. "Rather than simply put money into the repair of old facilities, we built two new hospitals, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure this community has high quality care. Our nurses, physicians, and all our staff deliver that care with compassion and kindness. We believe we have complied with our agreement, exceeded our promises, and we continue to spend millions for the benefit of a community we love."

The HCA Midwest facilities serving the Kansas City area include Research Medical Center, Research Psychiatric Center, Centerpoint Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Lee’s Summit Medical Center, Belton Regional Medical Center, Lafayette Regional Health Center, Allen County Hospital and Cass Regional Medical Center.

According to the company it has 8,400 workers in the Kansas City metro area and is the area's largest private-sector employer.

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City was created in 2002 by then Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon as part of hospital chain's Health Midwest buyout.

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