Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) initiated the probe to get solutions about “questionable monetary transactions” that might be hurting care high quality for sufferers at hospitals owned by personal fairness corporations. The kinds of transactions the senators search to scrutinize embrace extreme debt brought on by leveraged buyouts, asset stripping and cost-cutting measures.
Non-public fairness buyers have spent $1 trillion on healthcare acquisitions up to now decade. A current report from the American Hospital Affiliation reveals that non-public fairness corporations account for 56% of all doctor observe acquisitions since 2019. One other current report, from Bain & Firm, discovered that non-public fairness corporations presently personal a minimum of 130 hospitals within the nation’s rural areas.
On Wednesday, the senators despatched letters to non-public fairness corporations Leonard Inexperienced & Companions and Apollo World Administration, in addition to an actual property funding belief named Medical Properties Belief. Additionally they despatched letters to a few supplier organizations that function personal equity-owned hospitals — Los Angeles-based Prospect Medical Holdings, Tennessee-based Lifepoint Well being and Iowa-based Ottumwa Regional Well being Heart.
The letters cited varied research exhibiting that non-public fairness corporations prioritize revenue over supplier retention and affected person security. One research, launched by Columbia researchers in July, discovered that non-public fairness funding in hospitals was related to value will increase as excessive as 32% for sufferers and payers, in addition to the next incidence of affected person antagonistic occasions.
“As personal fairness has moved into healthcare, we’ve develop into more and more involved concerning the related detrimental outcomes for sufferers,” Sen. Whitehouse mentioned in an announcement. “From facility closures to compromised care, it’s now a well-recognized story: personal fairness buys out a hospital, saddles it with debt, after which reduces working prices by reducing providers and workers — all whereas buyers pocket hundreds of thousands. Earlier than the mud settles, the personal fairness agency sells and leaves city, leaving communities to choose up the items.”
Within the letters, the senators requested info and paperwork to uncover the impact personal fairness possession has on hospitals, together with monetary reviews, enterprise contracts and staffing documentation.
MedCity Information sought feedback from all six of the organizations focused within the senators’ investigation, however none responded by deadline.
The investigation was spurred partly by a very galling incident at Ottumwa Regional Well being Heart, a LifePoint Well being hospital in southeast Iowa. The previously nonprofit hospital has been owned by personal fairness corporations since 2010.
In March, Sen. Grassley wrote to 4 corporations with possession pursuits in Ottumwa Regional Well being Heart after media reviews revealed Devin Caraccio, a nurse practitioner on the facility, had sexually assaulted a minimum of 9 sedated sufferers in 2021 and 2022.
Caraccio died on the hospital following a deadly overdose in October 2022. The assaults have been found after his demise, when regulation enforcement officers seized his telephone and located graphic movies and pictures depicting the acts.
“Once I see the kind of tragic lapses that occurred at Ottumwa Regional — the sexual assault of 9 feminine sufferers by a now deceased nurse practitioner who overdosed and died on the facility — it raises critical questions with respect as to whether these hospitals have the appropriate assets or if they’re being loaded with overwhelming quantities of debt to the purpose the place they’re pressured to shift cash away from affected person care. When a number of monetary transactions involving the identical hospital techniques happen, sufferers can get misplaced within the equation,” Sen. Grassley wrote within the letter.
Sen. Grassley requested for info concerning Ottumwa Regional’s funds to find out to what extent the “related-party transactions” might have led to the disturbing occasions. He mentioned the businesses failed to supply passable responses to his questions.
Now that Sen. Whitehouse has joined the probe, the scope has expanded to incorporate personal fairness offers impacting hospitals in California, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
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