HCA Exec: Raise Retirement Age, Don’t Cut Medicare Hospital Payments

Executives at Nashville-based HCA think raising the retirement age is better than making cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals. Both ideas are in play, as Congressional leaders and the President negotiate to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Speaking to a conference of investors in New York, HCA Senior Vice President Vic Campbell took questions about how the fiscal cliff would affect his company. One person in the audience asked Campbell about raising the retirement age to 70.

“We really believe it needs to move in that direction. Historically, there’s been a lot of resistance, but I do believe we’ll see it move. Unfortunately, probably not to the numbers you’re talking about. But I think it’s highly likely it moves to 67.”

Another option is cuts in the payments Medicare makes to hospitals. The hospital industry has lobbied hard to avoid any cuts of that kind.

At HCA, Medicare makes up about 25 percent of the company’s bottom line. The nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain has also faced scrutiny for the way it bills Medicare. A decade ago, HCA paid out a billion dollar settlement over submitting false claims. Federal investigators are currently looking at Medicare billing at HCA hospitals in Florida.

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