Thursday, June 30, 2011

HCA's Legal Contingencies

HCA's recent 10-Q stated:

The Civil Division of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has contacted the Company in connection with its nationwide review of whether, in certain cases, hospital charges to the federal government relating to implantable cardio-defibrillators (“ICDs”) met the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services criteria. In connection with this nationwide review, the DOJ has indicated that it will be reviewing certain ICD billing and medical records at 87 HCA hospitals; the review covers the period from October 2003 to the present. The review could potentially give rise to claims against the Company under the federal False Claims Act or other statutes, regulations or laws. At this time, we cannot predict what effect, if any, this review or any resulting claims could have on the Company. 
 A New England Journal of Medicine study found the use of these devices somewhat questionable.

The Contingencies section also referred to qui tam or whistleblower investigations:

Certain of our individual facilities have received government inquiries from federal and state agencies and our facilities may receive such inquiries in future periods. Depending on whether the underlying conduct in these or future inquiries or investigations could be considered systemic, their resolution could have a material, adverse effect on our results of operations or financial position. 

If someone knew the timing of any suits, they could make a lot of money shorting.