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How healthy are health care providers? In Florida, regulators have just made it a bit easier to find out.
An index describing the financial health of the state’s investor-owned health care economy is newly available on the web at http://www.fdhc.state.fl.us/stocks/. It tracks, both separately and collectively, the market value of HMOs, nursing homes, and hospital stocks. The index has no formal regulatory role but does give state officials a heads-up about crucial health care developments. When Vencor Inc. filed in early September to restructure its debt, Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) officials had been tracking the health of nursing homes industry and had been in close contact with Vencor officials.
"Part of the problem has been, in the past, the agency has been sort of behind the eight ball when these things happen; we get caught with our pants down. This is sort of a way to be in front of problems," says John P. Noble Jr., developer of the index and AHCA’s director of corporate affairs. Both the index and Mr. Noble’s position are new with the administration of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and both reflect an increased emphasis on private sector-developments in the state’s health care economy. Because the index is limited to companies that are significant in Florida and are regulated by state officials; pharmaceutical firms are not included.
The existence of the index is logical enough, given the size of the for-profit sector within Florida health care. Of the 200 short-term, acute care hospitals described in the state’s 1999 Guide to Hospitals in Florida, 93 are for-profit. As of January 31, 1999, the capitalization of the stocks tracked ranged from $20.3 million to $14.2 billion.
Contact Mr. Noble at (850) 922-5876.