S&P downgrades hospital company

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 3, 2007

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Standard & Poor's is not seeing a bright immediate future for Health Management Associates, a Naples, Fla.-based for-profit operator of hospitals.

The bond-rating agency recently downgraded its outlook on Health Management Associates to negative from stable. The hospital chain reported increasing bad debt and charity care expenses in its third-quarter earnings.

"The outlook revision reflects the continued erosion of the company's financial performance and prospects that its financial profile will deteriorate further before possibly stabilizing at a level below our expectations and consistent with a lower rating," stated a Standard & Poor's report.

Health Management Associates, which has 59 hospitals in 15 states, still has its outstanding bonds listed at investment-grade, rather than junk, status. But the downgrade likely means the company will pay higher interest rates on any debt it issues or accrues.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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