SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC 20549
☒ Annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
☐ Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the transition period from to
Commission File Number 1-7293
TENET HEALTHCARE CORPORATION
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State of Incorporation)|| ||(IRS Employer Identification No.)|
14201 Dallas Parkway
Dallas, TX 75254
(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading symbol||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common stock,||$0.05 par value||THC||New York Stock Exchange|
|6.875% Senior Notes due 2031||THC31||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ¨ No x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act during the preceding 12 months, and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company (each as defined in Exchange Act Rule 12b-2).
|Large accelerated filer|
|Accelerated filer||¨||Non-accelerated filer||¨|
|Smaller reporting company|
|Emerging growth company|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the Registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Exchange Act Rule 12b-2). Yes ☐ No x
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the shares of common stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant (treating directors, executive officers who were SEC reporting persons, and holders of 10% or more of the common stock outstanding as of that date, for this purpose, as affiliates) was approximately $1.1 billion based on the closing price of the Registrant’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange on that day. As of January 31, 2021, there were 106,196,295 shares of common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the 2021 annual meeting of shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Tenet Healthcare Corporation (together with our subsidiaries, referred to herein as “Tenet,” the “Company,” “we” or “us”) is a diversified healthcare services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Through our subsidiaries, partnerships and joint ventures, including USPI Holding Company, Inc. (“USPI”), at December 31, 2020, we operated an expansive care network that included 65 hospitals and over 550 other healthcare facilities, including ambulatory surgery centers (“ASCs”), urgent care centers (“UCCs”) , imaging centers, surgical hospitals, off-campus emergency departments and micro-hospitals. In addition, we operate Conifer Health Solutions, LLC through our Conifer Holdings, Inc. (“Conifer”) subsidiary, which provides revenue cycle management and value-based care services to hospitals, health systems, physician practices, employers and other clients. Following exploration of strategic alternatives for Conifer, in July 2019, we announced our intention to pursue a tax‑free spin-off of Conifer as a separate, independent, publicly traded company. For financial reporting purposes, our business lines are classified into three separate reportable operating segments – Hospital Operations and other (“Hospital Operations”), Ambulatory Care and Conifer. Additional information about our business segments is provided below; statistical data for the segments can be found in Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, of Part II of this report (“MD&A”).
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all three segments of our business, as well as our patients, communities and employees. Throughout MD&A, we have provided additional information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our results of operations, set forth the steps we have taken, and are continuing to take, in response and described the legislative actions that have mitigated some of the economic disruption caused by the pandemic on our business. For information about risks and uncertainties around COVID-19 that could affect our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, we refer you to the Risk Factors section below.
HOSPITAL OPERATIONS SEGMENT
Hospitals, Ancillary Outpatient Facilities and Related Businesses—At December 31, 2020, our subsidiaries operated 65 hospitals, serving primarily urban and suburban communities in nine states. Our subsidiaries had sole ownership of 57 of these hospitals, six were owned or leased by entities that are, in turn, majority owned by a Tenet subsidiary, and two were owned by third parties and leased by our wholly owned subsidiaries. Our Hospital Operations segment also included 157 outpatient centers at December 31, 2020, the majority of which are freestanding UCCs, provider-based diagnostic imaging centers, off-campus emergency departments, provider-based ASCs and micro-hospitals. In addition, at December 31, 2020, our subsidiaries owned or leased and operated: a number of medical office buildings, all of which were located on, or nearby, our hospital campuses; over 720 physician practices; three accountable care organizations and eight clinically integrated networks; and other ancillary healthcare businesses.
Each of our general hospitals offers acute care services, operating and recovery rooms, radiology services, respiratory therapy services, clinical laboratories and pharmacies; in addition, most have: intensive care, critical care and/or coronary care units; cardiovascular, digestive disease, neurosciences, musculoskeletal and obstetrics services; and outpatient services, including physical therapy. Many of our hospitals provide tertiary care services, such as cardiothoracic surgery, complex spinal surgery, neonatal intensive care and neurosurgery, and some also offer quaternary care in areas such as heart and kidney transplants. Moreover, a number of our hospitals offer advanced treatment options for patients, including limb-salvaging vascular procedures, acute level 1 trauma services, comprehensive intravascular stroke care, minimally invasive cardiac valve replacement, cutting-edge imaging technology, and telemedicine access for selected medical specialties.
Each of our hospitals (other than our one critical access hospital) is accredited by The Joint Commission. With such accreditation, our hospitals are deemed to meet the Medicare Conditions of Participation (“CoPs”) and Conditions for Coverage (“CfCs”) and are eligible to participate in government-sponsored provider programs, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Although our critical access hospital has not sought to be accredited, it also participates in the Medicare and Medicaid programs by otherwise meeting the Medicare CoPs and CfCs.
The following table lists, by state, the hospitals wholly owned, operated as part of a joint venture, or leased and operated by our wholly owned subsidiaries at December 31, 2020:
Brookwood Baptist Medical Center(1)
| Homewood||595 ||JV/Owned|
Citizens Baptist Medical Center(1)(2)
| Talladega ||122 ||JV/Leased|
Princeton Baptist Medical Center(1)(2)
| Birmingham ||505 ||JV/Leased|
Shelby Baptist Medical Center(1)(2)
| Alabaster ||252 ||JV/Leased|
Walker Baptist Medical Center(1)(2)
| Jasper ||267 ||JV/Leased|
| || |
Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital(3)
|Abrazo Arrowhead Campus||Glendale||217 ||Owned|
|Abrazo Central Campus||Phoenix||206 ||Owned|
|Abrazo Scottsdale Campus||Phoenix||120 ||Owned|
|Abrazo West Campus||Goodyear||200 ||Owned|
Holy Cross Hospital(4)(5)
St. Joseph’s Hospital(4)
St. Mary’s Hospital(4)
|California|| || || |
Desert Regional Medical Center(6)
| Palm Springs ||385 || Leased |
|Doctors Hospital of Manteca|| Manteca ||73 || Owned |
|Doctors Medical Center|| Modesto ||461 || Owned |
|Emanuel Medical Center|| Turlock ||209 || Owned |
|Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center|| Fountain Valley ||400 || Owned |
Hi-Desert Medical Center(7)
| Joshua Tree ||179 || Leased |
|John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital|| Indio ||145 || Owned |
|Lakewood Regional Medical Center|| Lakewood ||172 || Owned |
|Los Alamitos Medical Center|| Los Alamitos ||172 || Owned |
|Placentia Linda Hospital|| Placentia ||114 || Owned |
San Ramon Regional Medical Center(8)
| San Ramon ||123 ||JV/Owned|
|Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center|| San Luis Obispo ||162 || Owned |
|Twin Cities Community Hospital|| Templeton ||122 || Owned |
|Florida|| || || |
|Coral Gables Hospital|| Coral Gables ||245 || Owned |
|Delray Medical Center|| Delray Beach ||536 || Owned |
|Florida Medical Center – a campus of North Shore|| Lauderdale Lakes ||459 || Owned |
|Good Samaritan Medical Center|| West Palm Beach ||333 || Owned |
|Hialeah Hospital|| Hialeah ||366 || Owned |
|North Shore Medical Center|| Miami ||337 || Owned |
Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center
| Palm Beach Gardens ||199 || Owned |
|Palmetto General Hospital|| Hialeah ||368 || Owned |
|St. Mary’s Medical Center|| West Palm Beach ||460 || Owned |
|West Boca Medical Center|| Boca Raton ||195 || Owned |
|Massachusetts|| || || |
MetroWest Medical Center – Framingham Union Campus
| Framingham ||147 ||Owned|
MetroWest Medical Center – Leonard Morse Campus(3)
| Natick ||86 ||Owned|
|Saint Vincent Hospital|| Worcester ||290 ||Owned|
|Michigan|| || || |
|Children’s Hospital of Michigan|| Detroit ||228 ||Owned|
|Detroit Receiving Hospital|| Detroit ||273 ||Owned|
|Harper University Hospital|| Detroit ||470 ||Owned|
|Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital|| Commerce Township ||158 ||Owned|
|Hutzel Women’s Hospital|| Detroit ||114 ||Owned|
Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan(3)
| Detroit ||69 ||Owned|
|Sinai-Grace Hospital|| Detroit ||404 ||Owned|
|South Carolina|| || || |
|Coastal Carolina Hospital|| Hardeeville||41 ||Owned|
|East Cooper Medical Center|| Mount Pleasant ||140 ||Owned|
|Hilton Head Hospital|| Hilton Head ||109 ||Owned|
|Piedmont Medical Center|| Rock Hill ||288 ||Owned|
|Tennessee|| || || |
|Saint Francis Hospital||Memphis||479 ||Owned|
|Saint Francis Hospital – Bartlett||Bartlett||196 ||Owned|
|Texas|| || || |
|Baptist Medical Center|| San Antonio ||623 || Owned |
|The Hospitals of Providence East Campus|| El Paso ||182 || Owned |
|The Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus|| El Paso ||480 || Owned |
|The Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus|| El Paso ||306 || Owned |
|The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus|| El Paso ||108 || Owned |
Mission Trail Baptist Hospital
| San Antonio ||102 || Owned |
|Nacogdoches Medical Center|| Nacogdoches ||161 || Owned |
|North Central Baptist Hospital|| San Antonio ||443 || Owned |
|Northeast Baptist Hospital|| San Antonio ||371 || Owned |
|Resolute Health Hospital|| New Braunfels ||128 || Owned |
|St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital|| San Antonio ||287 || Owned |
|Valley Baptist Medical Center|| Harlingen ||586 || Owned |
|Valley Baptist Medical Center – Brownsville|| Brownsville ||240 || Owned |
|Total Licensed Beds|| ||17,178 || |
(1)Operated by a limited liability company formed as part of a joint venture with Baptist Health System, Inc. (“BHS”), a not-for-profit health system in Alabama; a Tenet subsidiary owned a 70% interest in the entity at December 31, 2020, and BHS owned a 30% interest.
(2)In order to receive certain tax benefits for these hospitals, which were operated as nonprofit hospitals prior to our joint venture with BHS, we have entered into arrangements with the City of Talladega, the City of Birmingham, the City of Alabaster and the City of Jasper such that a Medical Clinic Board owns each of these hospitals, and the hospitals are leased to our joint venture entity. These capital leases expire between November 2025 and September 2036, but contain two optional renewal terms of 10 years each.
(4)Owned by a limited liability company that, effective July 13, 2020 and at December 31, 2020, is wholly owned; through July 12, 2020, the entity was part of a joint venture with Dignity Health (which, following a 2019 merger with Catholic Health Initiatives, is now a part of CommonSpirit Health) and Ascension Arizona, each of which is a not-for-profit health system.
(5)Designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) as a critical access hospital.
(6)Lease expires in May 2027.
(7)Lease expires in July 2045.
(8)Owned by a limited liability company formed as part of a joint venture with John Muir Health (“JMH”), a not-for-profit health system in the San Francisco Bay area; a Tenet subsidiary owned a 51% interest in the entity at December 31, 2020, and JMH owned a 49% interest.
Information regarding the utilization of licensed beds and other operating statistics at December 31, 2020 and 2019 can be found in MD&A.
At December 31, 2020, our Hospital Operations segment also included 48 diagnostic imaging centers, 15 off-campus emergency departments and 11 ASCs operated as departments of our hospitals and under the same license, as well as 83 separately licensed, freestanding outpatient centers – typically at locations complementary to our hospitals – consisting of six diagnostic imaging centers, 14 emergency facilities (13 of which are licensed as micro-hospitals), two ASCs and 61 UCCs. At December 31, 2020, USPI managed and operated nearly all of our Hospital Operations segment’s 61 freestanding UCCs under our national MedPost brand. In December 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell the majority of these UCCs (along with UCCs that are part of our Ambulatory Care segment) to an unaffiliated independent urgent care provider; we expect the transaction to be completed in the three months ending March 31, 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.
Over half of the outpatient centers in our Hospital Operations segment at December 31, 2020 were in California, Florida and Texas, the same states where we had the largest concentrations of licensed hospital beds. Strong concentrations of hospital beds and outpatient centers within market areas may help us contract more successfully with managed care payers, reduce management, marketing and other expenses, and more efficiently utilize resources. However, these concentrations increase the risk that, should any adverse economic, regulatory, environmental or other condition (including COVID-19 surges) occur in these areas, our overall business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows could be materially adversely affected.
Accountable Care Organizations and Clinically Integrated Networks—We own, control or operate three accountable care organizations (“ACOs”) and eight clinically integrated networks (“CINs”) – in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas – and participate in an additional ACO and an additional CIN with other healthcare providers for select markets in Arizona. An ACO is a group of providers and suppliers that work together to redesign delivery processes in an effort to achieve high-quality and efficient provision of services under contract with CMS. ACOs that achieve quality performance standards established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) are eligible to share in a portion of the amounts saved by the Medicare program. A CIN coordinates the healthcare needs of the communities served by its network of providers with the purpose of improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare services through collaborative programs, including contracts with managed care payers that create a high degree of interdependence and cooperation among the network providers. Because they promote accountability and coordination of care, ACOs and CINs are intended to produce savings as a result of improved quality and operational efficiencies.
Health Plans—We previously announced our intention to sell or otherwise dispose of our health plan businesses because they are not a core part of our long-term growth strategy. To that end, we sold, divested the membership of or discontinued four health plans in 2017, and we divested our Chicago-based preferred provider network and our Southern California Medicare Advantage plan in 2018. In addition, we surrendered the Certificate of Authority for our Arizona Medicare Advantage Plan and Medicaid Plan in 2020 to effectuate the withdrawal of our insurance business in Arizona. We have one additional health plan that is still being wound-down; during this time, it continues to be subject to numerous federal and state statutes and regulations related to its business operations, and it continues to be licensed by one or more agencies in the state in which it conducted business. In addition, insurance regulations in that state require us to maintain cash reserves in connection with the plan throughout the wind-down process.
AMBULATORY CARE SEGMENT
Our Ambulatory Care segment is comprised of the operations of USPI, which, at December 31, 2020, had interests in 308 ASCs, 40 UCCs (all of which are operated under the CareSpot brand), 24 imaging centers and 24 surgical hospitals in 31 states. We acquired 45 of these ASCs in December 2020 as part of a transaction announced on December 10, 2020, and we have entered into a definitive agreement to sell the UCCs (along with the majority of UCCs that are part of our Hospital Operations segment) in the near term, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. These transactions will enable us to sharpen our focus on the continued growth and expansion of ambulatory surgical services. At December 31, 2020, we owned approximately 95% of USPI, and Baylor University Medical Center (“Baylor”) owned approximately 5%.
Operations of USPI—USPI acquires and develops its facilities primarily through the formation of joint ventures with physicians and health systems. USPI’s subsidiaries hold ownership interests in the facilities directly or indirectly and operate the facilities on a day-to-day basis through management services contracts.
USPI’s surgical facilities specialize in both outpatient and inpatient cases. We believe surgery centers and surgical hospitals offer many advantages to patients and physicians, including increased affordability, predictability and convenience. USPI’s facilities generally provide physicians with greater scheduling flexibility, more consistent nurse staffing and faster turnaround time between cases than they could expect in an acute care hospital setting. In addition, many physicians choose to perform surgery in outpatient facilities because their patients prefer the comfort of a less institutional atmosphere and the expediency of simplified registration and discharge procedures. Moreover, USPI’s facilities also serve as an alternative point‑of‑service as acute care hospitals manage their capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic and otherwise.
New surgical techniques and technology, as well as advances in anesthesia, have significantly expanded the types of surgical procedures that are being performed in surgery centers and have helped drive the growth in outpatient surgery. Improved anesthesia has shortened recovery time by minimizing post-operative side effects, such as nausea and drowsiness, thereby avoiding the need for overnight hospitalization in many cases. Furthermore, some states permit surgery centers to keep a patient for up to 23 hours, which allows for more complex surgeries, previously performed only in an inpatient setting, to be performed in a surgery center.
In addition to these technological and other clinical advancements, a changing payer environment has contributed to the growth of outpatient surgery relative to all surgery performed. Government programs, private insurance companies, managed care organizations and self-insured employers have implemented cost-containment measures to limit increases in healthcare expenditures, including procedure reimbursement. Furthermore, as self-funded employers are looking to curb annual increases in their employee health benefits costs, they continue to shift additional financial responsibility to patients through higher co-pays, deductibles and premium contributions. These cost-containment measures have contributed to the shift in the delivery of certain healthcare services away from traditional acute care hospitals to more cost-effective alternate sites, including surgery centers and surgical hospitals. We believe that surgeries performed at surgery centers and surgical hospitals are generally less expensive than acute care hospital-based outpatient surgeries because of lower facility development costs, more efficient staffing and space utilization, and a specialized operating environment focused on quality of care and cost containment. In general, we believe that our focus on quality of care has a positive impact on, among other things, physician and patient satisfaction, as well as our revenues as governmental and private payers continue to move to pay‑for‑performance models.
We operate USPI’s facilities, structure our joint ventures, and adopt staffing, scheduling, and clinical systems and protocols with the goal of increasing physician productivity. We believe that this focus on physician satisfaction, combined with providing high-quality healthcare in a friendly and convenient environment for patients, will continue to increase the number of procedures performed at our facilities each year. Our joint ventures also enable health systems to offer patients, physicians and payers the cost advantages, convenience and other benefits of ambulatory care in a freestanding facility and, in certain markets, establish networks needed to manage the full continuum of care for a defined population. Further, these relationships allow the health systems to focus their attention and resources on their core business without the challenge of acquiring, developing and operating these facilities.
Nearly all of the services comprising the operations of our Conifer segment are provided by Conifer Health Solutions, LLC or one of its direct or indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. At December 31, 2020, we owned 76.2% of Conifer Health Solutions, LLC, and Catholic Health Initiatives (“CHI”) had a 23.8% ownership position. (As a result of its 2019 merger with Dignity Health, CHI is now a part of CommonSpirit Health.) Following exploration of strategic alternatives for Conifer, in July 2019, we announced our intention to pursue a tax-free spin-off of Conifer as a separate, independent, publicly traded company. Completion of the proposed spin-off is subject to a number of conditions, including, among others, assurance that the separation will be tax-free for U.S. federal income tax purposes, execution of a restructured long-term services agreement between Conifer and Tenet, finalization of Conifer’s capital structure, the effectiveness of appropriate filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and final approval from our board of directors. Although we are continuing to work on the Conifer spin-off, there can be no assurance regarding the timeframe for completing it, the allocation of assets and liabilities between Tenet and Conifer, that the other conditions of the spin-off will be met, or that it will be completed at all.
Services—Conifer provides comprehensive end-to-end and focused-point business process services, including hospital and physician revenue cycle management, patient communications and engagement support, and value-based care solutions, to hospitals, health systems, physician practices, employers and other clients.
Conifer’s revenue cycle management solutions consist of: (1) patient services, including: centralized insurance and benefit verification; financial clearance, pre-certification, registration and check-in services; and financial counseling services, including reviews of eligibility for government healthcare or financial assistance programs, for both insured and uninsured patients, as well as qualified health plan coverage; (2) clinical revenue integrity solutions, including: clinical admission reviews; coding; clinical documentation improvement; coding compliance audits; charge description master management; and health information services; and (3) accounts receivable management solutions, including: third-party billing and collections; denials management; and patient collections. All of these solutions include ongoing measurement and monitoring of key revenue cycle metrics, as well as productivity and quality improvement programs. These revenue cycle management solutions assist hospitals, physician practices and other healthcare organizations in improving cash flow, revenue, and physician and patient satisfaction.
In addition, Conifer offers customized communications and engagement solutions to optimize the relationship between providers and patients. Conifer’s trained customer service representatives provide direct, 24-hour, multilingual support for (1) physician referral requests, calls regarding maternity services and other patient inquiries, (2) community education and outreach, and (3) scheduling and appointment reminders. Additionally, Conifer coordinates and implements marketing outreach programs to keep patients informed of screenings, seminars, and other events and services.
Conifer also offers value-based care solutions, including clinical integration, financial risk management and population health management, all of which assist hospitals, physicians, ACOs, health plans, self-insured employers and government agencies in improving the cost and quality of healthcare delivery, as well as patient outcomes. Conifer helps clients build clinically integrated networks that provide predictive analytics and quality measures across the care continuum. In addition, Conifer helps clients align and manage financial incentives among healthcare stakeholders through risk modeling and administration of various payment models. Furthermore, Conifer offers clients tools and analytics to improve quality of care and provide care management services for patients with chronic diseases by identifying high-risk patients, coordinating with patients and clinicians in managing care, and monitoring clinical outcomes.
Clients—At December 31, 2020, Conifer provided one or more of the business process services described above to approximately 630 Tenet and non-Tenet hospital and other clients nationwide. Tenet and CHI facilities represented over 47% of these clients, and the remainder were unaffiliated health systems, hospitals, physician practices, self-insured organizations, health plans and other entities. Contractual agreements have been in place for many years documenting the terms and conditions of various services Conifer provides to Tenet hospitals, as well as certain administrative services our Hospital Operations segment provides to Conifer. While Conifer prepares for the spin-off, these contracts have been renewed on a short-term basis with certain scope of services modifications; however, execution of restructured long-term services agreements between Conifer and Tenet is a condition to completion of the proposed spin-off. Conifer’s agreement with CHI to provide patient access, revenue integrity, accounts receivable management and patient financial services to CHI’s facilities expires in 2032. For the year ended December 31, 2020, approximately 40% of Conifer’s net operating revenues were attributable to its relationship with Tenet and 43% were attributable to its relationship with CHI. As we pursue a tax-free spin-off of Conifer, we are continuing to market Conifer’s revenue cycle management, patient communications and engagement services, and value-based care solutions businesses. The timing and uncertainty associated with our plans for Conifer may have an adverse impact on our ability to secure new clients for Conifer. Additional information about our Conifer operating segment can be found in MD&A.
The locations of our hospitals and the number of licensed beds at each hospital at December 31, 2020 are set forth in the table beginning on page 2. We lease the majority of our outpatient facilities in both our Hospital Operations segment and our Ambulatory Care segment. These leases typically have initial terms ranging from five to 20 years, and most of the leases contain options to extend the lease periods. Our subsidiaries also operate a number of medical office buildings, all of which are located on, or nearby, our hospital campuses. We own many of these medical office buildings; the remainder are owned by third parties and leased by our subsidiaries.
Our corporate headquarters are located in Dallas, Texas, where we consolidated several office locations in 2020. In addition, we maintain administrative offices in markets where we operate hospitals and other businesses, as well as our Global Business Center in the Philippines. We typically lease our office space under operating lease agreements. We believe that all of our properties are suitable for their respective uses and are, in general, adequate for our present needs.
HUMAN CAPITAL RESOURCES
Physicians—Our operations depend in significant part on the number, quality, specialties, and admitting and scheduling practices of the licensed physicians who have been admitted to the medical staffs of our hospitals and other facilities, as well as physicians who affiliate with us and use our facilities as an extension of their practices. Under state laws and other licensing standards, medical staffs are generally self-governing organizations subject to ultimate oversight by the facility’s local governing board. Members of the medical staffs of our facilities also often serve on the medical staffs of facilities we do not operate, and they are free to terminate their association with our facilities or admit their patients to competing facilities at any time. At December 31, 2020, we owned over 720 physician practices, and we employed (where permitted by state law) or otherwise affiliated with over 1,600 physicians; however, we have no contractual relationship with the overwhelming majority of the physicians who practice at our hospitals and outpatient centers. It is essential to our ongoing business and clinical program development that we attract an appropriate number of quality physicians in the specialties required to support our services and that we maintain good relations with those physicians. In some of our markets, physician recruitment and retention are affected by a shortage of physicians in certain specialties and the difficulties that physicians can experience in obtaining affordable malpractice insurance or finding insurers willing to provide such insurance. Moreover, our ability to recruit and employ physicians is closely regulated.
Employees—We believe each employee across our network has a role integral to our mission, which is to provide quality, compassionate care in the communities we serve. At December 31, 2020, we employed approximately 110,000 people (of which approximately 22% were part‑time employees) in our three business segments, as follows:
|Hospital Operations||77,960 |
|Ambulatory Care||21,125 |
At December 31, 2020, our employee headcount had decreased by approximately 3,600 employees as compared to December 31, 2019, primarily due to workforce reductions and voluntary separations of employees in our Hospital Operations segment offset by an increased number of USPI employees due to acquisitions of facilities in our Ambulatory Care segment. At December 31, 2020, we had employees in every state in the United States, as well as approximately 1,700 employees providing support across our entire network at our Global Business Center in the Philippines. Approximately 35% of our employees are nurses.
We have established – and continue to enhance and refine – a comprehensive set of practices for recruiting, managing and optimizing the human resources of our organization. In many cases, we utilize objective benchmarking and other tools in our efforts, including a commercial product that is widely used in the healthcare industry and provides metrics in such areas as organizational effectiveness, voluntary turnover and staffing efficiencies. In general, we seek to attract, develop and retain an engaged workforce, cultivate a high-performance culture that embraces data-driven decision-making, and improve talent management processes to promote diversity and inclusion. To that end, we offer: (i) a competitive range of compensation and benefit programs designed to reward performance and promote wellbeing; (ii) opportunities for continuing education and advancement through a broad range of clinical and leadership training experiences; (iii) a supportive, inclusive and patient-centered culture based on respect for others; (iv) company-sponsored efforts encouraging and recognizing volunteerism and community service; (v) a code of conduct that promotes integrity, accountability and transparency, among other high ethical standards; and (vi) a focus on employee welfare, including the implementation of additional safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also continue to focus on the hiring, advancement and retention of underrepresented populations to further our objective of fostering an engaging culture with a workforce and leadership teams that represent the markets we serve. As of December 31, 2020, our total workforce was approximately 75% female, and approximately 47% of our employees self-identified as racially or ethnically diverse. Approximately 53% of new employees (i.e., those we hired in 2020) self-identified as racially or ethnically diverse. Our newly established Diversity Council, which consists of leaders representing different facets of our enterprise, is working together to provide tools, guidelines and training with respect to best practices in this area.
We compete with other healthcare providers in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel responsible for the day-to-day operations of our facilities. In some markets, there is a limited availability of experienced medical support personnel, which drives up the local wages and benefits required to recruit and retain employees. In particular, like others in the healthcare industry, we continue to experience a shortage of critical-care nurses in certain disciplines and geographic areas, which shortage has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, we hire many newly licensed nurses in addition to experienced nurses, which requires us to invest in their training.
California is the only state in which we operate that requires minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios to be maintained at all times in acute care hospitals. If other states in which we operate adopt mandatory nurse-staffing ratios, it could have a significant effect on our labor costs and have an adverse impact on our net operating revenues if we are required to limit patient volumes in order to meet the required ratios.
Union Activity and Labor Relations—At December 31, 2020, approximately 28% of the employees in our Hospital Operations segment were represented by labor unions. Less than 1% of the total employees in both our Ambulatory Care and Conifer segments belong to a union. Unionized employees – primarily registered nurses and service, technical and maintenance workers – are located at 35 of our hospitals, the majority of which are in California, Florida and Michigan. When negotiating collective bargaining agreements with unions, whether such agreements are renewals or first contracts, there is a possibility that strikes could occur, and our continued operation during any strikes could increase our labor costs and have an adverse effect on our patient volumes and net operating revenues. Organizing activities by labor unions could increase our level of union representation in future periods, which could result in increases in salaries, wages and benefits expense.
We believe our hospitals and outpatient facilities compete within local communities on the basis of many factors, including: quality of care; location and ease of access; the scope and breadth of services offered; reputation; and the caliber of the facilities, equipment and employees. In addition, the competitive positions of hospitals and outpatient facilities depend in significant part on the number, quality, specialties, and admitting and scheduling practices of the licensed physicians who have been admitted to the medical staffs of those facilities, as well as physicians who affiliate with and use outpatient centers as an extension of their practices. Physicians often serve on the medical staffs of more than one facility, and they are typically free to terminate their association with such facilities or admit their patients to competing facilities at any time.
Another major factor in the competitive position of a hospital or outpatient facility is the ability to negotiate contracts with managed care plans. Health maintenance organizations (“HMOs”), preferred provider organizations (“PPOs”), third-party administrators, and other third-party payers use managed care contracts to encourage patients to use certain hospitals in exchange for discounts from the hospitals’ established charges. These negotiated discounts generally limit a hospital or other facility’s ability to increase reimbursement rates to offset increasing costs. Trends toward clinical and pricing transparency may also impact a healthcare facility’s competitive position in ways that are difficult to predict.
In recent years, the number of freestanding specialty hospitals, surgery centers, emergency departments and diagnostic imaging centers in the geographic areas in which we operate has increased significantly. Some of these facilities are physician-owned. Moreover, we expect to encounter additional competition from system-affiliated hospitals and healthcare companies, as well as health insurers and private equity companies seeking to acquire providers, in specific geographic markets in the future. Some of the hospitals that compete with our hospitals are owned by tax-supported government agencies, and many others are owned by not-for-profit organizations that may have financial advantages not available to our facilities, including (i) support through endowments, charitable contributions and tax revenues, (ii) access to tax-exempt financing, and (iii) exemptions from sales, property and income taxes. In addition, in certain markets in which we operate, large teaching hospitals provide highly specialized facilities, equipment and services that may not be available at most of our hospitals. State laws that require findings of need for construction and expansion of healthcare facilities or services (as described in “Healthcare Regulation and Licensing – Certificate of Need Requirements” below) may also impact competition.
Our strategies are designed to help our hospitals and outpatient facilities remain competitive, to attract and retain an appropriate number of physicians of distinction in various specialties, as well as skilled clinical personnel and other healthcare professionals, and to increase patient volumes. To that end, we have made significant investments in equipment, technology, education and operational strategies designed to improve clinical quality at all of our facilities. In addition, we continually collaborate with physicians to implement the most current evidence-based medicine techniques to improve the way we provide care, while using labor management tools and supply chain initiatives to reduce variable costs. Moreover, we participate in various value-based programs to improve quality and cost of care. We believe the use of these practices will promote the most effective and efficient utilization of resources and result in more appropriate lengths of stay, as well as reductions in readmissions for hospitalized patients. In general, we believe that quality of care improvements may have the effects of: (1) reducing costs; (2) increasing payments from Medicare and certain managed care payers for our services as governmental and private payers continue to move to pay-for-performance models, and the commercial market continues to move to more narrow networks and other methods designed to encourage covered individuals to use certain facilities over others; and
(3) increasing physician and patient satisfaction, which may improve our volumes. It should be noted, however, that we do face competition from other health systems that are implementing similar strategies.
We also recognize that our future success depends, in part, on our ability to retain and renew our managed care contracts and enter into new managed care contracts on competitive terms. Generally, we compete for these contracts on the basis of price, market reputation, geographic location, quality and range of services, caliber of the medical staff and convenience. Other healthcare providers may affect our ability to enter into acceptable managed care contractual arrangements or negotiate increases in our reimbursement. For example, some of our competitors may negotiate exclusivity provisions with managed care plans or otherwise restrict the ability of managed care companies to contract with us. Price transparency initiatives and increasing vertical integration efforts involving third-party payers and healthcare providers, among other factors, may increase these challenges. Furthermore, the ongoing trend toward consolidation among non-government payers tends to increase their bargaining power over contract terms.
To bolster our competitive position, we have sought to include all of our hospitals and other healthcare businesses in the related geographic area or nationally when negotiating new managed care contracts, which may result in additional volumes at facilities that were not previously a part of such managed care networks. We also continue to engage in contracting strategies that create shared value with payers.
In addition, we have significantly increased our focus on operating our outpatient centers with improved accessibility and more convenient service for patients, increased predictability and efficiency for physicians, and (for most services) lower costs for payers than would be incurred with a hospital visit. We believe that emphasis on higher-demand clinical service lines (including outpatient services), focus on expanding our ambulatory care business, cultivation of our culture of service and participation in Medicare Advantage health plans that have been experiencing higher growth rates than traditional Medicare, among other strategies, will also help us address competitive challenges in our markets.
REVENUE CYCLE MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS
Conifer faces competition from existing participants and new entrants to the revenue cycle management market, some of which may have significantly greater capital resources than Conifer. In addition, the internal revenue cycle management staff of hospitals and other healthcare providers, who have historically performed many of the functions addressed by our services, in effect compete with us. Moreover, providers who have previously made investments in internally developed solutions may choose to continue to rely on their own resources. We also currently compete with several categories of external participants in the revenue cycle market, including: software vendors and other technology-supported revenue cycle management business process outsourcing companies; traditional consultants, either specialized healthcare consulting firms or healthcare divisions of large accounting firms; and large, non-healthcare focused business process and information technology outsourcing firms.
We believe that competition for the revenue cycle management and other services Conifer provides is based primarily on: (1) knowledge and understanding of the complex public and private healthcare payment and reimbursement systems; (2) a track record of delivering revenue improvements and efficiency gains for hospitals and other healthcare providers; (3) the ability to deliver solutions that are fully integrated along each step of the revenue cycle; (4) cost-effectiveness, including the breakdown between up-front costs and pay-for-performance incentive compensation; (5) reliability, simplicity and flexibility of the technology platform; (6) understanding of the healthcare industry’s regulatory environment, as well as laws and regulations relating to consumer protection; and (7) financial resources to maintain current technology and other infrastructure.
To be successful, Conifer must respond more quickly and effectively than its competitors to new or changing opportunities, technologies, standards, regulations and client requirements. Existing or new competitors may introduce technologies or services that render Conifer’s technologies or services obsolete or less marketable. Even if Conifer’s technologies and services are more effective than the offerings of its competitors, current or potential clients might prefer competitive technologies or services to Conifer’s technologies and services. Furthermore, increased competition has resulted and may continue to result in pricing pressures, which could negatively impact Conifer’s margins, growth rate or market share. In addition, the timing and uncertainty regarding our potential spin-off of Conifer may have an adverse impact on Conifer’s ability to secure new clients.
HEALTHCARE REGULATION AND LICENSING
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”) extended health coverage to millions of uninsured legal U.S. residents through a combination of private sector health insurance reforms and public program expansion. To fund the expansion of insurance coverage, the ACA includes measures designed to promote quality and cost efficiency in healthcare delivery and to generate budgetary savings in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In addition, the ACA contains provisions intended to strengthen fraud and abuse enforcement.
The initial expansion of health insurance coverage under the ACA resulted in an increase in the number of patients using our facilities with either private or public program coverage and a decrease in uninsured and charity care admissions. Although a substantial portion of both our patient volumes and, as a result, our revenues has historically been derived from government healthcare programs, reductions to our reimbursement under the Medicare and Medicaid programs as a result of the ACA have been partially offset by increased revenues from providing care to previously uninsured individuals.
In recent years, the healthcare industry, in general, and the acute care hospital business, in particular, have been experiencing significant regulatory uncertainty based, in large part, on administrative, legislative and judicial efforts to significantly modify or repeal and potentially replace the ACA. Effective January 2019, Congress eliminated the financial penalty for noncompliance under the ACA’s individual mandate provision, which requires most U.S. citizens and noncitizens who lawfully reside in the country to have health insurance meeting specified standards. On November 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the matter of California v. Texas addressing whether the individual mandate itself is unconstitutional now that Congress has eliminated the tax penalty that was intended to enforce it. Conversely, members of Congress and other politicians have proposed measures that would expand government-sponsored coverage, including single-payer plans, such as Medicare for All. We cannot predict whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will invalidate the Affordable Care Act, nor can we predict if or when further modification of the ACA will occur or what action, if any, Congress might take with respect to eventually repealing and possibly replacing the law.
Furthermore, we are unable to predict the impact on our future revenues and operations of (1) the final decision in California v. Texas and other court challenges to the ACA, (2) administrative, regulatory and legislative changes, including expansion of government-sponsored coverage, or (3) market reactions to those changes. However, if the ultimate impact is that significantly fewer individuals have private or public health coverage, we likely will experience decreased patient volumes, reduced revenues and an increase in uncompensated care, which would adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.
ANTI-KICKBACK AND SELF-REFERRAL REGULATIONS
Anti-Kickback Statute—Medicare and Medicaid anti-kickback and anti-fraud and abuse amendments codified under Section 1128B(b) of the Social Security Act (the “Anti-kickback Statute”) proscribe certain business practices and relationships that might affect the provision and cost of healthcare services payable under the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other government programs. Specifically, the law prohibits any person or entity from offering, paying, soliciting or receiving anything of value, directly or indirectly, for the referral of patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs or the leasing, purchasing, ordering or arranging for or recommending the lease, purchase or order of any item, good, facility or service covered by these programs. In addition to addressing other matters, as discussed below, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) also amended Title XI (42 U.S.C. Section 1301 et seq.) to broaden the scope of fraud and abuse laws to include all health plans, whether or not payments under such health plans are made pursuant to a federal program. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act amended the Anti-kickback Statute to provide that intent to violate the Anti-kickback Statute is not required; rather, intent to violate the law generally is all that is required.
Sanctions for violating the Anti-kickback Statute include criminal and civil penalties, as well as fines and mandatory exclusion from government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, submission of a claim for services or items generated in violation of the Anti-kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim and may be subject to additional penalties under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”). Furthermore, it is a violation of the federal Civil Monetary Penalties Law (“CMPL”) to offer or transfer anything of value to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries that is likely to influence their decision to obtain covered goods or services from one provider or service over another. Many states have statutes similar to the federal Anti-kickback Statute, except that the state statutes usually apply to referrals for services reimbursed by all third-party payers, not just federal programs.
The federal government has also issued regulations – referred to as the “Safe Harbor” regulations – that describe some of the conduct and business relationships that are permissible under the Anti-kickback Statute. Historically, Safe Harbors for various activities have included the following: investment interests; space rental; equipment rental; practitioner recruitment; personal services and management contracts; sales of practices; referral services; warranties; discounts; employees; group purchasing organizations; waivers of beneficiary coinsurance and deductible amounts; managed care arrangements; obstetrical malpractice insurance subsidies; investments in group practices; ASCs; referral agreements for specialty services; cost-sharing waivers for pharmacies and emergency ambulance services; and local transportation. In December 2020, the HHS Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published new rules (the “2020 AKS and CMPL Update”) that updated the Safe Harbor regulations and the CMPL. The 2020 AKS and CMPL Update modified existing Safe Harbors and added new Safe Harbors, as well as a new CMPL exception to remove barriers to more effective coordination and management of patient care and delivery of value-based care. The 2020 AKS and CMPL Update includes: three new Safe Harbors to protect certain payments among individuals and entities in a value-based arrangement; a Safe Harbor to protect certain remuneration provided in connection with CMS-sponsored models; a Safe Harbor to protect donations of cybersecurity technology; and a Safe Harbor to protect the furnishing of certain tools and support to patients in order to improve quality, health outcomes and efficiency. The fact that certain conduct or a given business arrangement does not meet a Safe Harbor does not necessarily render the conduct or business arrangement illegal under the Anti-kickback Statute. Rather, such conduct and business arrangements may be subject to increased scrutiny by government enforcement authorities and should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Stark Law—The Stark law generally restricts physician referrals of Medicare or Medicaid patients to entities with which the physician or an immediate family member has a financial relationship, unless one of several exceptions applies. The referral prohibition applies to a number of statutorily defined “designated health services,” such as clinical laboratory, physical therapy, radiology, and inpatient and outpatient hospital services; the prohibition does not apply to health services provided by an ASC if those services are included in the ASC’s composite Medicare payment rate. However, if the ASC is separately billing Medicare for designated health services that are not covered under its composite Medicare payment rate, or if either the ASC or an affiliated physician is performing (and billing Medicare) for procedures that involve designated health services that Medicare has not designated as an ASC service, the Stark law’s self-referral prohibition would apply and such services could implicate the Stark law. Exceptions to the Stark law’s referral prohibition cover a broad range of common financial relationships. These statutory and the subsequent regulatory exceptions are available to protect certain permitted employment relationships, relocation arrangements, leases, group practice arrangements, medical directorships, and other ordinary relationships between physicians and providers of designated health services, such as hospitals. In December 2020, CMS published new rules (the “2020 Stark Law Update”) that include new exceptions for: certain value-based compensation arrangements between or among physicians, providers and suppliers; limited remuneration to a physician for the provision of items and services without the need for a signed writing and compensation that is set in advance if certain conditions are met; and the protection of arrangements involving the donation of certain cybersecurity technology and related services, including certain cybersecurity hardware donations. The 2020 Stark Law Update also includes several new rules and clarifications to existing Stark Law regulations and key definitions intended to clarify some of the more challenging aspects of Stark Law compliance. CMS explained that the purpose of the 2020 Stark Law Update is to modernize and clarify the regulations to support the innovation necessary for a healthcare delivery and payment system that pays for value and to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on physicians and other healthcare providers and suppliers, while reinforcing the physician self-referral law’s goal of protecting against program and patient abuse.
A violation of the Stark law may result in a denial of payment, required refunds to patients and the Medicare program, civil monetary penalties of up to $15,000 for each violation, civil monetary penalties of up to $100,000 for “sham” arrangements, civil monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for each day that an entity fails to report required information, and exclusion from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs and other federal programs. In addition, the submission of a claim for services or items generated in violation of the Stark law may constitute a false or fraudulent claim, and thus be subject to additional penalties under the FCA. Many states have adopted self-referral statutes similar to the Stark law, some of which extend beyond the related state Medicaid program to prohibit the payment or receipt of remuneration for the referral of patients and physician self-referrals regardless of the source of the payment for the care. Our participation in and development of joint ventures and other financial relationships with physicians could be adversely affected by the Stark law and similar state enactments.
The Affordable Care Act also made changes to the “whole hospital” exception in the Stark law, effectively preventing new physician-owned hospitals after March 23, 2010 and limiting the capacity and amount of physician ownership in then-existing physician-owned hospitals. As revised, the Stark law prohibits physicians from referring Medicare patients to a hospital in which they have an ownership or investment interest unless the hospital had physician ownership and a Medicare provider agreement as of March 23, 2010 (or, for those hospitals under development at the time of the ACA’s enactment, as of December 31, 2010). A physician-owned hospital that meets these requirements is still subject to restrictions that limit the hospital’s aggregate physician ownership percentage and, with certain narrow exceptions for hospitals with a high percentage of
Medicaid patients, prohibit expansion of the number of operating rooms, procedure rooms or beds. Physician-owned hospitals are also currently subject to reporting requirements and extensive disclosure requirements on the hospital’s website and in any public advertisements.
Implications of Fraud and Abuse Laws—At December 31, 2020, the majority of the facilities that operate as surgical hospitals in our Ambulatory Care segment are owned by joint ventures that include some physician owners and are subject to the limitations and requirements in the Affordable Care Act on physician-owned hospitals. Furthermore, the majority of ASCs in our Ambulatory Care segment, which are owned by joint ventures with physicians or health systems, are subject to the Anti-kickback Statute and, in certain circumstances, may be subject to the Stark law. In addition, we have contracts with physicians and non-physician referral services providing for a variety of financial arrangements, including employment contracts, leases and professional service agreements, such as medical director agreements. We have also provided financial incentives to recruit physicians to relocate to communities served by our hospitals, including income and collection guarantees and reimbursement of relocation costs, and will continue to provide recruitment packages in the future. Furthermore, new payment structures, such as ACOs and other arrangements involving combinations of hospitals, physicians and other providers who share payment savings, could potentially be seen as implicating anti-kickback and self-referral provisions, although this risk has been reduced as a result of the 2020 AKS and CMPL Update and the 2020 Stark Law Update, which updates are intended to remove potential federal regulatory barriers to care coordination and value-based care.
Our operations could be adversely affected by the failure of our arrangements to comply with the Anti-kickback Statute, the Stark law, billing requirements, current state laws, or other legislation or regulations in these areas adopted in the future. We are unable to predict whether other legislation or regulations at the federal or state level in any of these areas will be adopted, what form such legislation or regulations may take or how they may impact our operations. For example, we cannot predict whether physicians may ultimately be restricted from holding ownership interests in hospitals or whether the exception relating to services provided by ASCs could be eliminated. We are continuing to enter into new financial arrangements with physicians and other providers in a manner we believe complies with applicable anti-kickback and anti-fraud and abuse laws. However, governmental officials responsible for enforcing these laws may nevertheless assert that we are in violation of these provisions. In addition, these statutes or regulations may be interpreted and enforced by the courts in a manner that is not consistent with our interpretation. An adverse determination could subject us to liabilities under the Social Security Act, including criminal penalties, civil monetary penalties and exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, any determination by a federal or state agency or court that USPI or its subsidiaries has violated any of these laws could give certain of our joint venture partners a right to terminate their relationships with us; and any similar determination with respect to Conifer or any of its subsidiaries could give Conifer’s clients the right to terminate their services agreements with us. Moreover, any violations by and resulting penalties or exclusions imposed upon USPI’s joint venture partners or Conifer’s clients could adversely affect their financial condition and, in turn, have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
Title II, Subtitle F of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act mandates the adoption of specific standards for electronic transactions and code sets that are used to transmit certain types of health information. HIPAA’s objective is to encourage efficiency and reduce the cost of operations within the healthcare industry. To protect the information transmitted using the mandated standards and the patient information used in the daily operations of a covered entity, HIPAA also sets forth federal rules protecting the privacy and security of protected health information (“PHI”). The privacy and security regulations address the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information and the rights of patients to understand and control how their information is used and disclosed. The law provides both criminal and civil fines and penalties for covered entities that fail to comply with HIPAA.
To receive reimbursement from CMS for electronic claims, healthcare providers and health plans must use HIPAA’s electronic data transmission (transaction and code set) standards when transmitting certain healthcare information electronically. Our electronic data transmissions are compliant with current HHS standards for additional electronic transactions and with HHS’ operating rules to promote uniformity in the implementation of each standardized electronic transaction.
Under HIPAA, covered entities must establish administrative, physical and technical safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic PHI maintained or transmitted by them or by others on their behalf. The covered entities we operate are in material compliance with the privacy, security and National Provider Identifier requirements of HIPAA. In addition, most of Conifer’s clients are covered entities, and Conifer is a business associate to many of those clients under HIPAA as a result of its contractual obligations to perform certain functions on behalf of and provide certain
services to those clients. As a business associate, Conifer’s use and disclosure of PHI is restricted by HIPAA and the business associate agreements Conifer is required to enter into with its covered entity clients.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act imposed certain of the HIPAA privacy and security requirements directly upon business associates of covered entities and significantly increased the monetary penalties for violations of HIPAA. Regulations also require business associates such as Conifer to notify covered entities, who in turn must notify affected individuals and government authorities, of data security breaches involving unsecured PHI. Since the passage of the HITECH Act, enforcement of HIPAA violations has increased. If Conifer knowingly breaches the HIPAA privacy and security requirements made applicable to business associates by the HITECH Act, it could expose Conifer to criminal liability (as well as contractual liability to the associated covered entity); a breach of safeguards and processes that is not due to reasonable cause or involves willful neglect could expose Conifer to significant civil penalties and the possibility of civil litigation under HIPAA and applicable state law.
We have developed a comprehensive set of policies and procedures in our efforts to comply with HIPAA, and similar state privacy laws, under the guidance of our ethics and compliance department. Our compliance officers and information security officers are responsible for implementing and monitoring compliance with our HIPAA privacy and security policies and procedures throughout our company. We have also created an internal web-based HIPAA training program, which is mandatory for all employees. Based on existing regulations and our experience with HIPAA to this point, we continue to believe that the ongoing costs of complying with HIPAA will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
GOVERNMENT ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS AND QUI TAM LAWSUITS
Both federal and state government agencies continue heightened and coordinated civil and criminal enforcement efforts against the healthcare industry. The OIG was established as an independent and objective oversight unit of HHS to carry out the mission of preventing fraud and abuse and promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness of HHS programs and operations. In furtherance of this mission, the OIG, among other things, conducts audits, evaluations and investigations relating to HHS programs and operations and, when appropriate, imposes civil monetary penalties, assessments and administrative sanctions. Although we have extensive policies and procedures in place to facilitate compliance with the laws, rules and regulations affecting the healthcare industry, these policies and procedures may not be effective.
Healthcare providers are also subject to qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuits under the FCA, which allows private individuals to bring actions on behalf of the government, alleging that a hospital or healthcare provider has defrauded a government program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. If the government intervenes in the action and prevails, the defendant may be required to pay three times the damages sustained by the government, plus mandatory civil penalties for each false claim submitted to the government. As part of the resolution of a qui tam case, the qui tam plaintiff may share in a portion of any settlement or judgment. If the government does not intervene in the action, the qui tam plaintiff may continue to pursue the action independently. There are many potential bases for liability under the FCA. Liability often arises when an entity knowingly submits a false claim for reimbursement to the federal government. The FCA defines the term “knowingly” broadly. Though simple negligence will not give rise to liability under the FCA, submitting a claim with reckless disregard to its truth or falsity constitutes a “knowing” submission under the FCA and, therefore, will qualify for liability. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 expanded the scope of the FCA by, among other things, creating liability for knowingly and improperly avoiding repayment of an overpayment received from the government and broadening protections for whistleblowers. It is a violation of the FCA to knowingly fail to report and return an overpayment within 60 days of identifying the overpayment or by the date a corresponding cost report is due, whichever is later. Qui tam actions can also be filed under certain state false claims laws if the fraud involves Medicaid funds or funding from state and local agencies. We have paid significant amounts to resolve qui tam matters brought against us in the past, and we are unable to predict the impact of future qui tam actions on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
HEALTHCARE FACILITY LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
The operation of healthcare facilities is subject to federal, state and local regulations relating to personnel, operating policies and procedures, fire prevention, rate-setting, the adequacy of medical care, and compliance with building codes and environmental protection laws. Various licenses and permits also are required in order to dispense narcotics, operate pharmacies, handle radioactive materials and operate certain equipment. Our facilities are subject to periodic inspection by governmental and other authorities to assure continued compliance with the various standards necessary for licensing and accreditation. We believe that all of our healthcare facilities hold all required governmental approvals, licenses and permits material to the operation of their business.
UTILIZATION REVIEW COMPLIANCE AND HOSPITAL GOVERNANCE
In addition to certain statutory coverage limits and exclusions, federal regulations, specifically the Medicare CoPs and CfCs, generally require healthcare providers, including hospitals that furnish or order healthcare services that may be paid for under the Medicare program or state healthcare programs, to ensure that claims for reimbursement are for services or items that are (1) provided economically and only when, and to the extent, they are medically reasonable and necessary, (2) of a quality that meets professionally recognized standards of healthcare, and (3) supported by appropriate evidence of medical necessity and quality. The Social Security Act established the Utilization and Quality Control Peer Review Organization program, now known as the Quality Improvement Organization (“QIO”) program, to promote the effectiveness, efficiency, economy and quality of services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries and to ensure that those services are reasonable and necessary. CMS administers the program through a network of QIOs that work with consumers, physicians, hospitals and other caregivers to refine care delivery systems to ensure patients receive the appropriate care at the appropriate time, particularly among underserved populations. The QIO program also safeguards the integrity of the Medicare trust fund by reviewing Medicare patient admissions, treatments and discharges, and ensuring payment is made only for medically necessary services, and investigates beneficiary complaints about quality of care. The QIOs have the authority to deny payment for services provided and recommend to HHS that a provider that is in substantial noncompliance with certain standards be excluded from participating in the Medicare program.
There has been increased scrutiny from outside auditors, government enforcement agencies and others, as well as an increased risk of government investigations and qui tam lawsuits, related to hospitals’ Medicare observation rates and inpatient admission decisions. The term “Medicare observation rate” is defined as total unique observation claims divided by the sum of total unique observation claims and total inpatient short-stay acute care hospital claims. A low rate may raise suspicions that a hospital is inappropriately admitting patients that could be cared for in an observation setting. In addition, CMS has established a concept referred to as the “two-midnight rule” to guide practitioners admitting patients and contractors on when it is appropriate to admit individuals as hospital inpatients. Under the two-midnight rule, a Medicare patient should generally be admitted on an inpatient basis only when there is a reasonable expectation that the patient’s care will cross two midnights; if not, the patient generally should be treated as an outpatient, unless an exception applies. In our affiliated hospitals, we conduct reviews of Medicare inpatient stays of less than two midnights to determine whether a patient qualifies for inpatient admission. Enforcement of the two-midnight rule has not had, and is not expected to have, a material impact on inpatient admission rates at our hospitals.
Medical and surgical services and practices are extensively supervised by committees of staff doctors at each of our healthcare facilities, are overseen by each facility’s local governing board, the members of which primarily are community members and physicians, and are reviewed by our clinical quality personnel. The local governing board also helps maintain standards for quality care, develop short-term and long-range plans, and establish, review and enforce practices and procedures, as well as approves the credentials, disciplining and, if necessary, the termination of privileges of medical staff members.
CERTIFICATE OF NEED REQUIREMENTS
Some states require state approval for construction, acquisition and closure of healthcare facilities, including findings of need for additional or expanded healthcare facilities or services. Certificates or determinations of need, which are issued by governmental agencies with jurisdiction over healthcare facilities, are at times required for capital expenditures exceeding a prescribed amount, changes in bed capacity or services, and certain other matters. Our subsidiaries operate acute care hospitals in five states that require a form of state approval under certificate of need programs applicable to those hospitals. Approximately 30% of our licensed hospital beds are located in these states (namely, Alabama, Massachusetts, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee). The certificate of need programs in most of these states, along with several others, also apply to ASCs.
Failure to obtain necessary state approval can result in the inability to expand facilities, add services, acquire a facility or change ownership. Further, violation of such laws may result in the imposition of civil sanctions or the revocation of a facility’s license. We are unable to predict whether we will be required or able to obtain any additional certificates of need in any jurisdiction where they are required, or if any jurisdiction will eliminate or alter its certificate of need requirements in a manner that will increase competition and, thereby, affect our competitive position. In those states that do not have certificate of need requirements or that do not require review of healthcare capital expenditure amounts below a relatively high threshold, competition in the form of new services, facilities and capital spending is more prevalent.
Our healthcare operations are subject to a number of federal, state and local environmental laws, rules and regulations that govern, among other things, our disposal of solid waste, as well as our use, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous and toxic materials (including radiological materials). Our operations also generate medical waste that must be disposed of in compliance with statutes and regulations that vary from state to state. In addition, although we are not engaged in manufacturing or other activities that produce meaningful levels of greenhouse gas emissions, our operating expenses could be adversely affected if legal and regulatory developments related to climate change or other initiatives result in increased energy or other costs. We could also be affected by climate change and other environmental issues to the extent such issues adversely affect the general economy or result in severe weather affecting the communities in which our facilities are located. At this time, based on current climate conditions and our assessment of existing and pending environmental rules and regulations, as well as treaties and international accords relating to climate change, we do not believe that the costs of complying with environmental laws, including regulations relating to climate change issues, will have a material adverse effect on our future capital expenditures, results of operations or cash flows. There were no material capital expenditures for environmental matters in the year ended December 31, 2020.
The federal government and most states have enacted antitrust laws that prohibit specific types of anti-competitive conduct, including price fixing, wage fixing, anticompetitive hiring practices, concerted refusals to deal, price discrimination and tying arrangements, as well as monopolization and acquisitions of competitors that have, or may have, a substantial adverse effect on competition. Violations of federal or state antitrust laws can result in various sanctions, including criminal and civil penalties.
Antitrust enforcement in the healthcare industry is currently a priority of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). In recent years, the FTC has filed multiple administrative complaints and public comments challenging hospital transactions in several states. The FTC has focused its enforcement efforts on preventing hospital mergers that may, in the government’s view, leave insufficient local options for patient services. In the three months ended December 31, 2020, the FTC took action to challenge our planned sale of two Tennessee hospitals to an unaffiliated third party; as a result, we determined in December 2020 that we no longer intend to pursue the transaction. In addition to hospital merger enforcement, the FTC has given increased attention to the effect of combinations involving other healthcare providers, including physician practices. The FTC has also entered into numerous consent decrees in the past several years settling allegations of price-fixing among providers.
REGULATIONS AFFECTING CONIFER’S OPERATIONS
Conifer and its subsidiaries are subject to civil and criminal statutes and regulations governing consumer finance, medical billing, coding, collections and other operations. In connection with these laws and regulations, Conifer and its subsidiaries have been and expect to continue to be party to various lawsuits, claims, and federal and state regulatory investigations from time to time. Some of these actions may involve large demands, as well as substantial defense costs. We cannot predict the outcome of current or future legal actions against Conifer and its subsidiaries or the effect that judgments, penalties or settlements in such matters may have on Conifer.
BILLING AND COLLECTION ACTIVITIES
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) regulates persons who regularly collect or attempt to collect, directly or indirectly, consumer debts owed or asserted to be owed to another person. Certain of the accounts receivable handled by Conifer’s third-party debt collection vendors are subject to the FDCPA, which establishes specific guidelines and procedures that debt collectors must follow in communicating with consumer debtors, including the time, place and manner of such communications. Conifer audits and monitors its vendors for compliance, but there can be no assurance that such audits and monitoring will detect all instances of potential non-compliance.
Many states also regulate the billing and collection practices of creditors who collect their own debt, as well as the companies a creditor engages to bill and collect from consumers on the creditor’s behalf. These state regulations may be more stringent than the FDCPA. In addition, state regulations may be specific to medical billing and collections or the same or similar to state regulations applicable to third-party collectors. Certain of the accounts receivable Conifer or its billing, servicing and collections subsidiary, PSS Patient Solution Services, LLC, manages for its clients are subject to these state regulations.
Conifer and its subsidiaries are also subject to both federal and state regulatory agencies who have the authority to investigate consumer complaints relating to a variety of consumer protection laws, including but not limited to the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act and its state equivalent. These agencies may initiate enforcement actions, including actions to seek restitution and monetary penalties from, or to require changes in business practices of, regulated entities. In addition, affected consumers may bring suits, including class action suits, to seek monetary remedies (including statutory damages) for violations of the federal and state provisions discussed above.
COMPLIANCE AND ETHICS
General—Our ethics and compliance department maintains our values-based ethics and compliance program, which is designed to (1) help staff in our corporate, USPI and Conifer offices, hospitals, outpatient centers and physician practices meet or exceed applicable standards established by federal and state statutes and regulations, as well as industry practice, (2) monitor and raise awareness of ethical issues among employees and others, and stress the importance of understanding and complying with our Code of Conduct, and (3) provide a channel for employees to make confidential ethics and compliance-related reports anonymously if they choose. The ethics and compliance department operates independently – it has its own operating budget; it has the authority to hire outside counsel, access any company document and interview any of our personnel; and our chief compliance officer reports directly to the quality, compliance and ethics committee of our board of directors.
Program Charter—Our Quality, Compliance and Ethics Program Charter is the governing document for our ethics and compliance program. Our adherence to the charter is intended to:
•support and maintain our present and future responsibilities with regard to participation in federal healthcare programs; and
•further our goals of operating an organization that (1) fosters and maintains the highest ethical standards among all employees, officers and directors, physicians practicing at our facilities and contractors that furnish healthcare items or services, (2) values compliance with all state and federal statutes and regulations as a foundation of its corporate philosophy, and (3) aligns its behaviors and decisions with Tenet’s core values.
The primary focus of our quality, compliance and ethics program is compliance with the requirements of Medicare, Medicaid and other federally funded healthcare programs. Pursuant to the terms of the charter, our ethics and compliance department is responsible for, among other things, the following activities: (1) assessing, critiquing, and (as appropriate) drafting and distributing company policies and procedures; (2) developing, providing, and tracking ethics and compliance training and other training programs, including job-specific training to those who work in clinical quality, coding, billing, cost reporting and referral source arrangements, in collaboration with the respective department responsible for oversight of each of these areas; (3) creating and disseminating the Company’s Code of Conduct and obtaining certifications of adherence to the Code of Conduct as a condition of employment; (4) maintaining and promoting the Company’s Ethics Action Line, a 24-hour, toll-free hotline that allows for confidential reporting of issues on an anonymous basis and emphasizes the Company’s no-retaliation policy; and (5) responding to and ensuring resolution of all compliance-related issues that arise from the Ethics Action Line and compliance reports received from facilities and compliance officers (utilizing any compliance reporting software that the Company may employ for this purpose) or any other source that results in a report to the ethics and compliance department.
Code of Conduct—All of our employees and officers, including our chief executive officer, chief financial officer and principal accounting officer, are required to abide by our Code of Conduct to advance our mission that our business be conducted in a legal and ethical manner. The members of our board of directors and all of our contractors having functional roles similar to our employees are also required to abide by our Code of Conduct. The standards therein reflect our basic values and form the foundation of a comprehensive process that includes compliance with all corporate policies, procedures and practices. Our Code of Conduct covers such areas as quality patient care, compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations, appropriate use of our assets, protection of patient information and avoidance of conflicts of interest.
As part of the program, we provide training sessions at least annually to every employee and officer, as well as our board of directors and certain physicians and contractors. All such persons are required to report incidents that they believe in good faith may be in violation of the Code of Conduct or our policies, and all are encouraged to contact our Ethics Action Line when they have questions about the standards or any ethics concerns. All reports to the Ethics Action Line are kept confidential to the extent allowed by law, and any individual who makes a report has the option to remain anonymous. Incidents of alleged financial improprieties reported to the Ethics Action Line or the ethics and compliance department are communicated to the audit committee of our board of directors. Reported cases that involve a possible violation of the law or regulatory policies and procedures are referred to the ethics and compliance department for investigation, although certain matters may be referred out to the law or human resources department. Retaliation against anyone in connection with reporting ethical concerns is considered a serious violation of our Code of Conduct, and, if it occurs, it will result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
Non-Prosecution Agreement—In September 2016, the Company and certain of its subsidiaries, including Tenet HealthSystem Medical, Inc. (“THSMI”), Atlanta Medical Center, Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center, Inc., executed agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and others to resolve a civil qui tam action and criminal investigation. In accordance with the terms of the resolution agreements, THSMI entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement (as amended, the “NPA”) with the DOJ’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, which expired on November 1, 2020. For additional information, we refer you to the copy of the NPA attached as an exhibit to our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on October 3, 2016, and the letter agreement amending the term of the NPA attached as an exhibit to our Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2018.
Availability of Documents—The full text of our Quality, Compliance and Ethics Program Charter, our Code of Conduct, and a number of our ethics and compliance policies and procedures are published on our website, at www.tenethealth.com, under the “Our Commitment To Compliance” caption in the “About Us” section. A copy of our Code of Conduct is also available upon written request to our corporate secretary. Information about how to contact our corporate secretary is set forth under “Company Information” below. Amendments to the Code of Conduct and any grant of a waiver from a provision of the Code of Conduct requiring disclosure under applicable SEC rules will be disclosed at the same location as the Code of Conduct on our website.
Property Insurance—We have property, business interruption and related insurance coverage to mitigate the financial impact of catastrophic events or perils that is subject to deductible provisions based on the terms of the policies. These policies are on an occurrence basis. For the policy periods April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 and April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, we have coverage totaling $850 million per occurrence, after deductibles and exclusions, with annual aggregate sub-limits of $100 million for floods, $200 million for earthquakes and a per-occurrence sub-limit of $200 million for named windstorms with no annual aggregate. With respect to fires and other perils, excluding floods, earthquakes and named windstorms, the total $850 million limit of coverage per occurrence applies. For both policy periods, deductibles are 5% of insured values up to a maximum of $40 million for California earthquakes, $25 million for floods and named windstorms, and 2% of insured values for New Madrid fault earthquakes, with a maximum per claim deductible of $25 million. Floods and certain other covered losses, including fires and other perils, have a minimum deductible of $1 million.
Professional and General Liability Insurance—As is typical in the healthcare industry, we are subject to claims and lawsuits in the ordinary course of business. The healthcare industry has seen significant increases in the cost of professional liability insurance due to increased litigation. In response, we maintain captive insurance companies to self-insure a substantial portion of our professional and general liability risk.
Claims in excess of our self-insurance retentions are insured with commercial insurance companies. If the aggregate limit of any of our professional and general liability policies is exhausted, in whole or in part, it could deplete or reduce the limits available to pay any other material claims applicable to that policy period. Any losses not covered by or in excess of the amounts maintained under insurance policies will be funded from our working capital.
In addition to the reserves recorded by our captive insurance subsidiaries, we maintain reserves, including reserves for incurred but not reported claims, for our self-insured professional liability retentions and claims in excess of the policies’ aggregate limits, based on modeled estimates of losses and related expenses. Also, we provide standby letters of credit to certain of our insurers, which can be drawn upon under certain circumstances, to collateralize the deductible and self-insured retentions under a selected number of our professional and general liability insurance programs.
We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other documents with the SEC under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). Our reports, proxy statements and other documents filed electronically with the SEC are available at the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.
Our website, www.tenethealth.com, also offers, free of charge, access to our annual, quarterly and current reports (and amendments to such reports), and other filings made with, or furnished to, the SEC as soon as reasonably practicable after such documents are submitted to the SEC. The information found on our website is not part of this or any other report we file with or furnish to the SEC.
Inquiries directed to our corporate secretary may be sent to Corporate Secretary, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, P.O. Box 139003, Dallas, Texas 75313-9003 or by e-mail at CorporateSecretary@tenethealth.com.
This report includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Exchange Act, each as amended. All statements, other than statements of historical or present facts, that address activities, events, outcomes, business strategies and other matters that we plan, expect, intend, assume, believe, budget, predict, forecast, project, target, estimate or anticipate (and other similar expressions) will, should or may occur in the future are forward-looking statements, including (but not limited to) disclosure regarding (i) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, (ii) our future earnings, financial position, and operational and strategic initiatives, and (iii) developments in the healthcare industry. Forward-looking statements represent management’s expectations, based on currently available information, as to the outcome and timing of future events, but, by their nature, address matters that are indeterminate. They involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which we are unable to predict or control, that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
•The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our future operations, financial condition and liquidity, particularly if the U.S. economy remains unstable for a significant period of time;
•The impact on our business of any future modifications to or court decisions affecting the viability of the Affordable Care Act and the enactment of, or changes in, other statutes and regulations affecting the healthcare industry generally, as well as reductions to Medicare and Medicaid payment rates or changes in reimbursement practices or to Medicaid supplemental payment programs;
•Adverse regulatory developments, government investigations or litigation, as well as the timing and impact of additional changes in federal tax laws, regulations and policies, and the outcome of pending and any future tax audits, disputes and litigation associated with our tax positions;
•Our ability to enter into or renew managed care provider arrangements on acceptable terms; changes in service mix, revenue mix and surgical volumes, including potential declines in the population covered under managed care agreements; and the impact of the industry trend toward value-based purchasing and alternative payment models;
•The impact of competition on all aspects of our business; and our success in recruiting and retaining physicians and other healthcare professionals;
•Our ability to achieve operating and financial targets, attain expected levels of patient volumes, and identify and execute on measures designed to save or control costs or streamline operations, including our ability to realize savings under our cost-reduction initiatives;
•Potential security threats, catastrophic events and other disruptions affecting our information technology and related systems;
•Operational and other risks associated with acquisitions and joint venture arrangements;
•The outcome of the process we have undertaken to pursue a tax-free spin-off of Conifer as a separate, independent, publicly traded company, as well as potential disruptions to our business or diverted management attention as a result of the Conifer spin-off process;
•The impact of our significant indebtedness; the availability and terms of capital to refinance existing debt, fund our operations and expand our business; and our ability to comply with our debt covenants and, over time, reduce leverage;
•The effect that general adverse economic conditions, consumer behavior and other factors have on our volumes and our ability to collect outstanding receivables on a timely basis, among other things; and increases in the amount of uninsured accounts and deductibles and copays for insured accounts; and
•Other factors and risks referenced in this report and our other public filings.
When considering forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind the risk factors and other cautionary statements in this report. Should one or more of the risks and uncertainties described in this report occur, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results and plans could differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statement. We specifically disclaim any obligation to update any information contained in a forward-looking statement or any forward-looking statement in its entirety, except as required by law.
All forward-looking statements attributable to us are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary information.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Our business is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, that may cause our actual operating results or financial performance to be materially different from our expectations and make an investment in our securities risky. If one or more of the events discussed in this report were to occur, actual outcomes could differ materially from those expressed in or implied by any forward-looking statements we make in this report or our other filings with the SEC, and our business, financial condition, results of operations or liquidity could be materially adversely affected; furthermore, the trading price of our common stock could decline and our shareholders could lose all or part of their investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known, or currently deemed immaterial, may also constrain our business and operations.
Risks Related to Our Overall Operations
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected our operations and financial condition, and it continues to do so; moreover, our liquidity could be negatively impacted, particularly if the U.S. economy remains unstable for a significant period of time.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all three segments of our business, as well as our patients, communities and employees. The spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing response of federal, state and local authorities beginning in March 2020 resulted in a material reduction in our patient volumes and also adversely affected our net operating revenues in the year ended December 31, 2020. Known and unknown risks and uncertainties caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including those described below, have had, and are continuing to have, a material impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows; such risks and uncertainties may heighten other risks to our business as described herein.
In accordance with governmental mandates, from mid‑March through early May 2020, we suspended elective procedures at many of our hospitals and ASCs; we also voluntarily reduced operating hours or temporarily closed some of our outpatient centers during this time. Restrictive measures, including travel bans, social distancing, quarantines and shelter-in-place orders, also reduced the number of procedures performed at our facilities more generally, as well as the volume of emergency room and physician office visits. Collectively, these measures had an adverse impact on our business and financial results in the year ended December 31, 2020, as further described in MD&A. Given the geographic diversity of our operations and the impact of COVID-19 surges, we have been and may in the future be forced to reduce services at individual locations again. In general, federal, state or local laws, regulations, orders or other actions imposing direct or indirect restrictions on our business due to the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise may have an adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are treating patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals and, in some areas, the increased demand for care is putting a strain on our resources and staff, which has required us to utilize higher-cost temporary labor and pay premiums above standard compensation for essential workers. Increased demand could also cause some of our hospitals to reduce their operating capacity. In addition, even with appropriate protective measures, exposure to COVID-19 increases the risk that physicians, nurses and others in our hospitals may contract the virus, which could further limit our ability to treat all patients who seek care. If conditions worsen, some of our hospitals may experience workforce disruptions. Furthermore, we may be subject to lawsuits from patients, employees and others exposed to COVID-19 at our facilities. Such actions may involve large demands, as well as substantial defense costs. Our professional and general liability insurance may not cover all claims against us.
We have experienced supply chain disruptions, including shortages and delays, as well as significant price increases in medical supplies, particularly for personal protective equipment. COVID-19 surges in our markets and elsewhere could further impact the cost of medical supplies, and supply shortages and delays may impact our ability to see, admit and treat patients.
Broad economic factors resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased unemployment rates and reduced consumer spending have impacted, and are continuing to impact, our service mix, revenue mix and patient volumes. Business
closings and layoffs in the areas we operate may lead to increases in the uninsured and underinsured populations and adversely affect demand for our services, as well as the ability of patients to pay for services as rendered. Any increase in the amount of or deterioration in the collectability of patient accounts receivable could adversely affect our cash flows and results of operations. If general economic conditions continue to deteriorate or remain uncertain for an extended period of time, our liquidity and ability to repay our outstanding debt may be impacted. There can be no assurance that we will be able to raise additional funds on terms acceptable to us, if at all.
Changes to COVID-19-related relief measures may have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows, and we cannot predict whether we will qualify, apply for, receive or benefit from additional financial assistance in the future or whether any future laws and regulations related to or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our operations.
As described in detail in MD&A, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and other legislative and regulatory actions have provided relief measures intended to mitigate some of the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on our business; however, interpretations of and regulations relating to these laws are subject to change in ways that may adversely affect our funding or eligibility to participate. For example, if we are unable to attest to or comply with the terms and conditions associated with the grants we have received from COVID-19-related stimulus legislation, our ability to retain some or all of the distributions received may be impacted. In general, we are unable to predict whether changes, if any, to existing or future COVID-19 relief measures will have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. Moreover, some of the measures allowing for flexibility in delivery of care and financial support for healthcare providers are available only for the duration of the public health emergency as declared by the Secretary of HHS, and it is unclear whether or for how long the HHS declaration will be extended past its current expiration date.
The federal government and state and local governments may consider additional stimulus and relief efforts, but we are unable to predict whether any such measures will be enacted or their impact on our operations. There can also be no assurance that we will be eligible or apply for, or receive or benefit from, additional COVID-19-related stimulus assistance in the future, nor can there be any assurance as to the amount and type of assistance we may receive or seek or whether we will be able to comply with the applicable terms and conditions to retain such assistance.
At this time, we remain unable to fully assess the extent to which the amounts or benefits received under current or future relief measures related to or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will offset the negative impacts on our operations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We cannot predict the impact that modifications of the Affordable Care Act may have on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
The initial expansion of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act resulted in an increase in the number of patients using our facilities with either private or public program coverage and a decrease in uninsured and charity care admissions. Although a substantial portion of both our patient volumes and, as a result, our revenues has historically been derived from government healthcare programs, reductions to our reimbursement under the Medicare and Medicaid programs as a result of the ACA have been partially offset by increased revenues from providing care to previously uninsured individuals.
In recent years, the healthcare industry, in general, and the acute care hospital business, in particular, have been experiencing significant regulatory uncertainty based, in large part, on administrative, legislative and judicial efforts to significantly modify or repeal and potentially replace the ACA. In November 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the matter of California v. Texas addressing whether the ACA’s individual mandate provision is unconstitutional given that Congress eliminated the tax penalty that was intended to enforce it in January 2019. Conversely, members of Congress and other politicians have proposed measures that would expand government-sponsored coverage, including single-payer plans, such as Medicare for All. We cannot predict whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will invalidate the Affordable Care Act, nor can we predict if or when further modification of the ACA will occur or what action, if any, Congress might take with respect to eventually repealing and possibly replacing the law.
We are also unable to predict the impact on our future revenues and operations of (1) the final decision in California v. Texas and other court challenges, (2) administrative, regulatory and legislative changes, including expansion of government-sponsored coverage, or (3) market reactions to those changes. However, if the ultimate impact is that significantly fewer individuals have private or public health coverage, we likely will experience decreased patient volumes, reduced revenues and an increase in uncompensated care, which would adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.
Further changes in the Medicare and Medicaid programs or other government healthcare programs, including reductions in scale and scope, could have an adverse effect on our business.
For the year ended December 31, 2020, approximately 20% and 8% of our net patient service revenues less implicit price concessions for the hospitals and related outpatient facilities in our Hospital Operations segment were from the Medicare program and various state Medicaid programs, respectively, in each case excluding Medicare and Medicaid managed care programs. The Medicare and Medicaid programs are subject to: statutory and regulatory changes, administrative rulings, interpretations and determinations concerning patient eligibility requirements, funding levels and the method of calculating payments or reimbursements, among other things; requirements for utilization review; and federal and state funding restrictions, all of which could materially increase or decrease payments from these government programs in the future, as well as affect the cost of providing services to our patients and the timing of payments to our facilities, which could in turn adversely affect our overall business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, several states in which we operate faced budgetary challenges that resulted in reduced Medicaid funding levels to hospitals and other providers. Because most states must operate with balanced budgets, and the Medicaid program is generally a significant portion of a state’s budget, states can be expected to adopt or consider adopting future legislation designed to reduce or not increase their Medicaid expenditures. In addition, some states delay issuing Medicaid payments to providers to manage state expenditures. As an alternative means of funding provider payments, many of the states in which we operate have adopted supplemental payment programs or have received federal government waivers allowing them to test new approaches and demonstration projects to improve care. Continuing pressure on state budgets and other factors, including legislative and regulatory changes, could result in future reductions to Medicaid payments, payment delays, changes to Medicaid supplemental payment programs or additional taxes on hospitals.
In general, we are unable to predict the effect of future government healthcare funding policy changes on our operations. If the rates paid by governmental payers are reduced, if the scope of services covered by governmental payers is limited, or if we or one or more of our subsidiaries’ hospitals are excluded from participation in the Medicare or Medicaid program or any other government healthcare program, there could be a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Violations of existing regulations or failure to comply with new or changed regulations could harm our business and financial results.
Our hospitals, outpatient centers and related healthcare businesses are subject to extensive federal, state and local regulation relating to, among other things, licensure, contractual arrangements, conduct of operations, privacy of patient information, ownership of facilities, physician relationships, addition of facilities and services, and reimbursement rates for services. The laws, rules and regulations governing the healthcare industry are extremely complex and, in certain areas, the industry has little or no regulatory or judicial interpretation for guidance. Moreover, under the ACA, the government and its contractors may suspend Medicare and Medicaid payments to providers of services “pending an investigation of a credible allegation of fraud.” The potential consequences for violating such laws, rules or regulations include reimbursement of government program payments, the assessment of civil monetary penalties, including treble damages, fines, which could be significant, exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs, or criminal sanctions against current or former employees, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or cash flows. Even a public announcement that we are being investigated for possible violations of law could have a material adverse effect on the value of our common stock and our business reputation could suffer.
Furthermore, healthcare, as one of the largest industries in the United States, continues to attract much legislative interest and public attention. We are unable to predict the future course of federal, state and local healthcare legislation, regulation or enforcement efforts, particularly in light of the recent changes in Presidential and Congressional leadership. Further changes in the regulatory framework negatively affecting healthcare providers could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
In addition, our operations at our Global Business Center in the Philippines are subject to certain U.S. healthcare industry-specific requirements, as well as U.S. and foreign laws applicable to businesses generally, including anti-corruption laws. One such law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), regulates U.S. companies in their dealings with foreign officials, prohibiting bribes and similar practices, and requires that they maintain records that fairly and accurately reflect transactions and appropriate internal accounting controls. FCPA enforcement actions continue to be a high priority for the SEC and the DOJ. Our failure to comply with the FCPA could result in the imposition of fines and other civil and criminal penalties, which could be significant.
We could be subject to substantial uninsured liabilities or increased insurance costs as a result of significant legal actions.
We are subject to medical malpractice lawsuits, antitrust claims and other legal actions in the ordinary course of business. In addition, from time to time, we have been and expect to continue to be subject to regulatory proceedings and private litigation (including employee class action lawsuits) concerning our application of various federal and state labor laws, rules and regulations governing a variety of workplace wage and hour issues. Some of these actions involve large demands, as well as substantial defense costs. Even in states that have imposed caps on damages, litigants are seeking recoveries under new theories of liability that might not be subject to such caps. Our professional and general liability insurance does not cover all claims against us, and it may not continue to be available at a reasonable cost for us to maintain at adequate levels, as the healthcare industry has seen a significant rise in the cost of such insurance due to increased litigation. We cannot predict the outcome of current or future legal actions against us or the effect that judgments or settlements in such matters may have on us or on our insurance costs. Additionally, all professional and general liability insurance we purchase is subject to policy limitations. If the aggregate limit of any of our professional and general liability policies is exhausted, in whole or in part, it could deplete or reduce the limits available to pay any other material claims applicable to that policy period. Any losses not covered by or in excess of the amounts maintained under insurance policies will be funded from our working capital. Furthermore, one or more of our insurance carriers could become insolvent and unable to fulfill its or their obligations to defend, pay or reimburse us when those obligations become due. In that case or if payments of claims exceed our estimates or are not covered by our insurance, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
If we are unable to enter into, maintain and renew managed care contractual arrangements on acceptable terms, if we experience material reductions in the contracted rates we receive from managed care payers or if we have difficulty collecting from managed care payers, our results of operations could be adversely affected.
For the year ended December 31, 2020, approximately 66%, or $9.0 billion, of our net patient service revenues for the hospitals and related outpatient facilities in our Hospital Operations segment was attributable to managed care payers, including Medicare and Medicaid managed care programs. In 2020, our commercial managed care net inpatient revenue per admission from the hospitals in our Hospital Operations segment was approximately 95% higher than our aggregate yield on a per admission basis from government payers, including managed Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans. Our ability to negotiate favorable contracts with HMOs, insurers offering preferred provider arrangements and other managed care plans, as well as add new facilities to our existing agreements at contracted rates, significantly affects our revenues and operating results. We currently have thousands of managed care contracts with various HMOs and PPOs; however, our top 10 managed care payers generated 62% of our managed care net patient service revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020. Because of this concentration, we may experience a short or long-term adverse effect on our net operating revenues if we cannot renew, replace or otherwise mitigate the impact of expired contracts with significant payers. Furthermore, any disputes between us and significant managed care payers could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. At December 31, 2020, 66% of our net accounts receivable for our Hospital Operations segment was due from managed care payers.
Private payers are increasingly attempting to control healthcare costs through direct contracting with hospitals to provide services on a discounted basis, increased utilization reviews and greater enrollment in managed care programs, such as HMOs and PPOs. Price transparency initiatives and increasing vertical integration efforts involving third-party payers and healthcare providers, among other factors, may increase these challenges. Any negotiated discount programs we agree to generally limit our ability to increase reimbursement rates to offset increasing costs. Furthermore, the ongoing trend toward consolidation among non-government payers tends to increase their bargaining power over contract terms. Our future success depends, in part, on our ability to retain and renew our existing managed care contracts and enter into new managed care contracts on competitive terms. Generally, we compete for these contracts on the basis of price, market reputation, geographic location, quality and range of services, caliber of the medical staff and convenience. Other healthcare providers, including some with greater financial resources, greater geographic coverage or a wider range of services, may affect our ability to enter into acceptable managed care contractual arrangements or negotiate increases in our reimbursement. For example, some of our competitors may negotiate exclusivity provisions with managed care plans or otherwise restrict the ability of managed care companies to contract with us. Any material reductions in the contracted rates we receive for our services or any significant difficulties in collecting receivables from managed care payers could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
The industry trend toward value-based purchasing and alternative payment models may negatively impact our revenues.
Value-based purchasing and alternative payment model initiatives of both governmental and private payers tying financial incentives to quality and efficiency of care will increasingly affect the results of operations of our hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and may negatively impact our revenues if we are unable to meet expected quality standards. Medicare now requires providers to report certain quality measures in order to receive full reimbursement increases for inpatient and outpatient procedures that were previously awarded automatically. In addition, hospitals that meet or exceed certain quality performance standards will receive increased reimbursement payments, and hospitals that have “excess readmissions” for specified conditions will receive reduced reimbursement. Furthermore, Medicare no longer pays hospitals additional amounts for the treatment of certain hospital-acquired conditions (“HACs”), unless the conditions were present at admission. Hospitals that rank in the worst 25% of all hospitals nationally for HACs in the previous year receive reduced Medicare reimbursements. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act prohibits the use of federal funds under the Medicaid program to reimburse providers for treating certain provider-preventable conditions.
The ACA also created the CMS Innovation Center to develop and test innovative payment and service delivery models that have the potential to reduce Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care for beneficiaries. Congress has defined – both through the ACA and previous legislation – a number of specific demonstrations for CMS to conduct, including bundled payment models. Generally, the bundled payment models hold hospitals financially accountable for the quality and costs for an entire episode of care for a specific diagnosis or procedure from the date of the hospital admission or inpatient procedure through 90 days post-discharge, including services not provided by the hospital, such as physician, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing and home health care. Provider participation in some of these models is voluntary; however, participation in certain other bundled payment arrangements is mandatory for providers located in randomly selected geographic locations. Under the mandatory models, hospitals are eligible to receive incentive payments or will be subject to payment reductions within certain corridors based on their performance against quality and spending criteria. We cannot predict what impact, if any, these demonstration programs will have on our inpatient volumes, net revenues or cash flows.
There is also a trend among private payers toward value-based purchasing and alternative payment models for healthcare services. Many large commercial payers expect hospitals to report quality data, and several of these payers will not reimburse hospitals for certain preventable adverse events. We expect value-based purchasing programs, including programs that condition reimbursement on patient outcome measures, to become more common and to involve a higher percentage of reimbursement amounts.
We are unable at this time to predict how the industry trend toward value-based purchasing and alternative payment models will affect our results of operations, but it could negatively impact our revenues, particularly if we are unable to meet the quality and cost standards established by both governmental and private payers.
Our hospitals, outpatient centers and other healthcare businesses operate in competitive environments, and competition in our markets can adversely affect patient volumes and other aspects of our operations.
We believe our hospitals and outpatient facilities compete for patients within local communities on the basis of many factors, including: quality of care; location and ease of access; the scope and breadth of services offered; reputation; and the caliber of the facilities, equipment and employees. In addition, the competitive positions of hospitals and outpatient facilities depend in significant part on the number, quality, specialties, and admitting and scheduling practices of the licensed physicians who have been admitted to the medical staffs of those facilities, as well as physicians who affiliate with and use outpatient centers as an extension of their practices. Another major factor in the competitive position of a hospital or outpatient facility is the ability to negotiate contracts with managed care plans. HMOs, PPOs, third-party administrators and other third-party payers use managed care contracts to encourage patients to use certain hospitals in exchange for discounts from the hospitals’ established charges. If our competitors are better able to attract patients, recruit physicians, expand services or obtain favorable managed care contracts at their facilities than we are, we may experience an overall decline in patient volumes. Furthermore, healthcare consumers are now able to access hospital performance data on quality measures and patient satisfaction, as well as standard charges for services, to compare competing providers; if any of our hospitals achieve poor results (or results that are lower than our competitors) on quality measures or patient satisfaction surveys, or if our standard charges are or are perceived to be higher than our competitors, we may attract fewer patients. Additional quality measures and trends toward clinical or billing transparency may have an unanticipated impact on our competitive position and patient volumes.
Some of the hospitals that compete with our hospitals are owned by tax-supported government agencies, and many others are owned by not-for-profit organizations that may have financial advantages not available to our facilities, including (i) support through endowments, charitable contributions and tax revenues, (ii) access to tax-exempt financing, and (iii) exemptions from sales, property and income taxes. In addition, in certain markets in which we operate, large teaching hospitals provide highly specialized facilities, equipment and services that may not be available at most of our hospitals. State laws that require findings of need for construction and expansion of healthcare facilities or services (as described in “Healthcare Regulation and Licensing – Certificate of Need Requirements” above) may also impact competition. In recent years, the number of freestanding specialty hospitals, surgery centers, emergency departments and diagnostic imaging centers in the geographic areas in which we operate has increased significantly. Some of these facilities are physician-owned. Moreover, we expect to encounter additional competition from system-affiliated hospitals and healthcare companies, as well as health insurers and private equity companies seeking to acquire providers, in specific geographic markets in the future.
It is essential to our ongoing business that we attract an appropriate number of quality physicians in the specialties required to support our services and that we maintain good relations with those physicians.
The success of our business and clinical program development depends in significant part on the number, quality, specialties, and admitting and scheduling practices of the licensed physicians who have been admitted to the medical staffs of our hospitals and other facilities, as well as physicians who affiliate with us and use our facilities as an extension of their practices. Physicians are often not employees of the hospitals or surgery centers at which they practice. Members of the medical staffs of our facilities also often serve on the medical staffs of facilities we do not operate, and they are free to terminate their association with our facilities or admit their patients to competing facilities at any time. In addition, although physicians who own interests in our facilities are generally subject to agreements restricting them from owning an interest in competitive facilities, we may not learn of, or be unsuccessful in preventing, our physician partners from acquiring interests in competitive facilities.
We expect to encounter increased competition from health insurers and private equity companies seeking to acquire providers in the markets where we operate physician practices and, where permitted by law, employ physicians. In some of our markets, physician recruitment and retention are affected by a shortage of physicians in certain specialties and the difficulties that physicians can experience in obtaining affordable malpractice insurance or finding insurers willing to provide such insurance. Furthermore, our ability to recruit and employ physicians is closely regulated. For example, the types, amount and duration of compensation and assistance we can provide to recruited physicians are limited by the Stark law, the Anti-kickback Statute, state anti-kickback statutes and related regulations. All arrangements with physicians must also be fair market value and commercially reasonable. If we are unable to attract and retain sufficient numbers of quality physicians by providing adequate support personnel, technologically advanced equipment, and facilities that meet the needs of those physicians and their patients, physicians may choose not to refer patients to our facilities, admissions and outpatient visits may decrease and our operating performance may decline.
Our labor costs can be adversely affected by competition for staffing, the shortage of experienced nurses and labor union activity.
The operations of our facilities depend on the efforts, abilities and experience of our management and medical support personnel, including nurses, therapists, pharmacists and lab technicians, as well as our employed physicians. We compete with other healthcare providers in recruiting and retaining employees, and, like others in the healthcare industry, we continue to experience a shortage of critical-care nurses in certain disciplines and geographic areas, which shortage has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, from time to time, we have been and we may continue to be required to enhance wages and benefits to recruit and retain experienced employees, make greater investments in education and training for newly licensed medical support personnel, or hire more expensive temporary or contract employees. Furthermore, state-mandated nurse-staffing ratios in California affect not only our labor costs, but, if we are unable to hire the necessary number of experienced nurses to meet the required ratios, they may also cause us to limit volumes, which would have a corresponding adverse effect on our net operating revenues. In general, our failure to recruit and retain qualified management, experienced nurses and other medical support personnel, or to control labor costs, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Increased labor union activity is another factor that can adversely affect our labor costs. At December 31, 2020, approximately 28% of the employees in our Hospital Operations segment were represented by labor unions. Less than 1% of the total employees in both our Ambulatory Care and Conifer segments belong to a union. Unionized employees – primarily registered nurses and service, technical and maintenance workers – are located at 35 of our hospitals, the majority of which are in California, Florida and Michigan. When negotiating collective bargaining agreements with unions, whether such agreements are renewals or first contracts, there is a possibility that strikes could occur, and our continued operation during any strikes
could increase our labor costs and have an adverse effect on our patient volumes and net operating revenues. Organizing activities by labor unions could increase our level of union representation in future periods, which could result in increases in salaries, wages and benefits expense.
Our business could be negatively affected by security threats, catastrophic events and other disruptions affecting our information technology and related systems.
Information technology is a critical component of the day-to-day operation of our business. We rely on our information technology to process, transmit and store sensitive and confidential data, including protected health information, personally identifiable information, and our proprietary and confidential business performance data. We utilize electronic health records and other information technology in connection with all of our operations, including our billing, supply chain and labor management functions. Our systems, in turn, interface with and rely on third-party systems. Although we monitor and routinely test our security systems and processes and have a diversified data network that provides redundancies as well as other measures designed to protect the integrity, security and availability of the data we process, transmit and store, the information technology and infrastructure we use have been, and will likely continue to be, subject to computer viruses, attacks by hackers, or breaches due to employee error or malfeasance. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional stress on our information technology systems, and the risk of disruption to these systems is elevated in the current environment. In particular, we face a heightened risk of cybersecurity threats, including ransomware attacks targeting healthcare providers.
In general, attacks or breaches could impact the integrity, security or availability of data we process, transmit or store, or they could disrupt our information technology systems, devices or businesses. While we are not aware of having experienced a material breach of our systems, the preventive actions we take to reduce the risk of such incidents and protect our information technology may not be sufficient in the future. As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, we may not be able to anticipate certain attack methods in order to implement effective protective measures, and we will be required to expend significant additional resources to continue to modify and strengthen our security measures, investigate and remediate any vulnerabilities in our information systems and infrastructure, and invest in new technology designed to mitigate security risks. Furthermore, we have an increased risk of security breaches or compromised intellectual property rights as a result of outsourcing certain functions unrelated to direct patient care. Though we have insurance against some cyber-risks and attacks, it may not offset the financial impact of a material loss event.
Third parties to whom we outsource certain of our functions, or with whom our systems interface and who may, in some instances, store our sensitive and confidential data, are also subject to the risks outlined above and may not have or use controls effective to protect such information. A breach or attack affecting any of these third parties could similarly harm our business. Further, successful cyber-attacks at other healthcare services companies, whether or not we are impacted, could lead to a general loss of consumer confidence in our industry that could negatively affect us, including harming the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures or of the healthcare industry in general, which could result in reduced use of our services.
Our networks and technology systems have experienced disruption due to events such as system implementations, upgrades, and other maintenance and improvements, and they are subject to disruption in the future for similar events, as well as catastrophic events, including a major earthquake, fire, hurricane, telecommunications failure, ransomware attack, terrorist attack or the like. Any breach or system interruption of our information systems or of third parties with access to our sensitive and confidential data could result in: the unauthorized disclosure, misuse, loss or alteration of such data; interruptions and delays in our normal business operations (including the collection of revenues); patient harm; potential liability under privacy, security, consumer protection or other applicable laws; regulatory penalties; and negative publicity and damage to our reputation. Any of these could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Our cost-reduction initiatives do not always deliver the benefits we expect, and actions taken may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our future financial performance and level of profitability is dependent, in part, on various cost-reduction initiatives, including our efforts to outsource certain functions unrelated to direct patient care. We may encounter challenges in executing our cost-reduction initiatives and not achieve the intended cost savings. In addition, we may face wrongful termination, discrimination or other legal claims from employees affected by any workforce reductions, and we may incur substantial costs defending against such claims, regardless of their merits. Such claims may also significantly increase our severance costs. Workforce reductions, whether as a result of internal restructuring or in connection with outsourcing efforts, may result in the loss of numerous long-term employees, the loss of institutional knowledge and expertise, the reallocation of certain job responsibilities and the disruption of business continuity, all of which could negatively affect operational efficiencies and
increase our operating expenses in the short term. Moreover, outsourcing and offshoring expose us to additional risks, such as reduced control over operational quality and timing, foreign political and economic instability, compliance and regulatory challenges, and natural disasters not typically experienced in the United States, such as volcanic activity and tsunamis. Our failure to effectively execute our cost-reduction initiatives may lead to significant volatility, and a decline, in the price of our common stock. We cannot guarantee that our cost-reduction initiatives will be successful, and we may need to take additional steps in the future to achieve our profitability goals.
Trends affecting our actual or anticipated results may require us to record charges that may negatively impact our results of operations.
As a result of factors that have negatively affected our industry generally and our business specifically, we have been required to record various charges in our results of operations. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we recorded impairment charges of $92 million. Our impairment tests presume stable, improving or, in some cases, declining operating results in our hospitals, which are based on programs and initiatives being implemented that are designed to achieve the hospitals’ most recent projections. If these projections are not met, or negative trends occur that impact our future outlook, future impairments of long-lived assets and goodwill may occur, and we may incur additional restructuring charges, which could be material. Future restructuring of our operating structure that changes our goodwill reporting units could also result in future impairments of our goodwill. Any such charges could negatively impact our results of operations.
The utilization of our tax losses could be substantially limited if we experience an ownership change as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.
At December 31, 2020, we had federal net operating loss (“NOL”) carryforwards of approximately $2.4 billion pre-tax available to offset future taxable income. Of these NOL carryforwards, $1.13 billion will expire in the years 2021 to 2034, and $1.24 billion has no expiration date. Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code imposes an annual limitation on the amount of a company’s taxable income that may be offset by the NOL carryforwards if it experiences an “ownership change” as defined in Section 382 of the Code. An ownership change occurs when a company’s “five-percent shareholders” (as defined in Section 382 of the Code) collectively increase their ownership in the company by more than 50 percentage points (by value) over a rolling three-year period. (This is different from a change in beneficial ownership under applicable securities laws.) These ownership changes include purchases of common stock under share repurchase programs, a company’s offering of its stock, the purchase or sale of company stock by five-percent shareholders, or the issuance or exercise of rights to acquire company stock. While we expect to be able to realize our total NOL carryforwards prior to their expiration, if an ownership change occurs, our ability to use the NOL carryforwards to offset future taxable income will be subject to an annual limitation and will depend on the amount of taxable income we generate in future periods. There is no assurance that we will be able to fully utilize the NOL carryforwards. Furthermore, we could be required to record a valuation allowance related to the amount of the NOL carryforwards that may not be realized, which could adversely impact our results of operations.
Risks Related to Acquisitions, Divestitures and Joint Ventures
When we acquire new assets or businesses, we become subject to various risks and uncertainties that could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We have completed a number of acquisitions in recent years, and we expect to pursue similar transactions in the future. A key business strategy for USPI, in particular, is the acquisition and development of facilities, primarily through the formation of joint ventures with physicians and health system partners. With respect to planned or future transactions, we cannot provide any assurances that we will be able to identify suitable candidates, consummate transactions on terms that are favorable to us, or achieve synergies or other benefits in a timely manner or at all. Furthermore, companies or operations we acquire may not be profitable or may not achieve the profitability that justifies the investments made. Businesses we acquire may also have pre-existing unknown or contingent liabilities, including liabilities for failure to comply with applicable healthcare regulations. These liabilities could be significant, and, if we are unable to exclude them from the acquisition transaction or successfully obtain indemnification from a third party, they could harm our business and financial condition. In addition, we may face significant challenges in integrating personnel and financial and other systems. Future acquisitions could result in the incurrence of additional debt and contingent liabilities, potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, and increased operating expenses, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We cannot provide any assurances that we will be successful in divesting assets we wish to sell.
We continue to exit service lines, businesses and markets that we believe are no longer strategic to our long-term growth. To that end, since January 1, 2018, we have divested 11 acute care hospitals in the United States, as well as all of our operations in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, in December 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell 87 UCCs from our Hospital Operations and Ambulatory Care segments to an unaffiliated independent urgent care provider, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. We cannot provide any assurances that completed, planned or future divestitures or other strategic transactions will achieve their business goals or the benefits we expect.
With respect to all proposed divestitures of assets or businesses, we may fail to obtain applicable regulatory approvals for such divestitures. For example, in the three months ended December 31, 2020, the FTC took action to challenge our planned sale of two Tennessee hospitals to an unaffiliated third party; as a result, we determined in December 2020 that we no longer intend to pursue the transaction. Moreover, we may encounter difficulties in finding acquirers or alternative exit strategies on terms that are favorable to us, which could delay the receipt of anticipated proceeds necessary for us to complete our planned strategic objectives. In addition, our divestiture activities have required, and may in the future require, us to retain significant pre-closing liabilities, recognize impairment charges (as discussed above) or agree to contractual restrictions that limit our ability to reenter the applicable market, which may be material. Many of our acute care hospital divestitures also necessitate us entering into a transition services agreement with the applicable buyer for information technology and other related services. As a consequence, we may be exposed to the financial status of the buyer for any payments under such transition services agreements, which could be significant.
Furthermore, our divestiture and other corporate development activities, including the planned spin-off of Conifer (as discussed below), may present financial and operational risks, including (1) the diversion of management attention from existing core businesses, (2) adverse effects (including a deterioration in the related asset or business and, in Conifer’s case, the loss of existing clients and the difficulties associated with securing new clients) from the announcement of the planned or potential activity, and (3) the challenges associated with separating personnel and financial and other systems.
USPI and our hospital-based joint ventures depend on existing relationships with key health system partners. If we are unable to maintain historical relationships with these systems, or enter into new relationships, we may be unable to implement our business strategies successfully.
USPI and our hospital-based joint ventures depend in part on the efforts, reputations and success of health system partners and the strength of our relationships with those systems. Our joint ventures could be adversely affected by any damage to those health systems’ reputations or to our relationships with them. In addition, damage to our business reputation could negatively impact the willingness of health systems to enter into relationships with us or USPI. If we are unable to maintain existing arrangements on favorable terms or enter into relationships with additional health system partners, we may be unable to implement our business strategies for our joint ventures successfully.
The remaining put/call arrangements associated with USPI, if settled in cash, will require us to utilize our cash flow or incur additional indebtedness to satisfy the payment obligations in respect of such arrangements.
As part of the formation of USPI in 2015, we entered into a put/call agreement with respect to the equity interests in USPI held by our joint venture partners at that time. During 2016, 2017 and 2018, we paid a total of $1.473 billion to purchase additional shares of USPI to increase our ownership interest in USPI from 50.1% to 95%.
We have also entered into a separate put/call agreement (the “Baylor Put/Call Agreement”) with respect to the remaining 5% outside ownership interest in USPI held by Baylor University Medical Center. Each year starting in 2021, Baylor may require us to purchase, or “put” to us, up to 33.3% of their total shares in USPI held as of April 1, 2017 by delivering notice by the end of January of such year. In each year that Baylor does not put the full 33.3% of USPI’s shares allowable, we may call the difference between the number of shares Baylor put and the maximum number of shares they could have put that year. Baylor did not deliver a put notice to us in January 2021. In addition, the Baylor Put/Call Agreement contains a call option pursuant to which we have the ability to acquire all of Baylor’s ownership interest by 2024. In each case, we have the ability to choose whether to settle the purchase price for the Baylor put/call in cash or shares of our common stock.
Put and call arrangements, to the extent settled in cash, may require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow to satisfy our payment obligations in respect of such arrangements, which may reduce the amount of funds available for our operations, capital expenditures and corporate development activities. Similarly, we may be required to incur additional indebtedness to satisfy our payment obligations in respect of such arrangements, which could have important consequences to our business and operations, as described more fully below under “Our level of indebtedness could, among other things,
adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry, and prevent us from meeting our obligations under the agreements relating to our indebtedness.”
Our joint venture arrangements are subject to a number of operational risks that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We have invested in a number of joint ventures with other entities when circumstances warranted the use of these structures, and we may form additional joint ventures in the future. These joint ventures may not be profitable or may not achieve the profitability that justifies the investments made. Furthermore, the nature of a joint venture requires us to consult with and share certain decision-making powers with unaffiliated third parties, some of which may be not-for-profit health systems. If our joint venture partners do not fulfill their obligations, the affected joint venture may not be able to operate according to its business or strategic plans. In that case, our results could be adversely affected or we may be required to increase our level of financial commitment to the joint venture. Moreover, differences in economic or business interests or goals among joint venture participants could result in delayed decisions, failures to agree on major issues and even litigation. If these differences cause the joint ventures to deviate from their business or strategic plans, or if our joint venture partners take actions contrary to our policies, objectives or the best interests of the joint venture, our results could be adversely affected. In addition, our relationships with not-for-profit health systems and the joint venture agreements that govern these relationships are intended to be structured to comply with current revenue rulings published by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as case law relevant to joint ventures between for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare entities. Material changes in these authorities could adversely affect our relationships with not-for-profit health systems and related joint venture arrangements.
Our participation in joint ventures is also subject to the risks that:
•We could experience an impasse on certain decisions because we do not have sole decision-making authority, which could require us to expend additional resources on resolving such impasses or potential disputes.
•We may not be able to maintain good relationships with our joint venture partners (including health systems), which could limit our future growth potential and could have an adverse effect on our business strategies.
•Our joint venture partners could have investment or operational goals that are not consistent with our corporate-wide objectives, including the timing, terms and strategies for investments or future growth opportunities.
•Our joint venture partners might become bankrupt, fail to fund their share of required capital contributions or fail to fulfill their other obligations as joint venture partners, which may require us to infuse our own capital into any such venture on behalf of the related joint venture partner or partners despite other competing uses for such capital.
•Many of our existing joint ventures require that one of our wholly owned affiliates provide a working capital line of credit to the joint venture, which could require us to allocate substantial financial resources to the joint venture potentially impacting our ability to fund our other short-term obligations.
•Some of our existing joint ventures require mandatory capital expenditures for the benefit of the applicable joint venture, which could limit our ability to expend funds on other corporate opportunities.
•Our joint venture partners may have exit rights that would require us to purchase their interests upon the occurrence of certain events or the passage of certain time periods, which could impact our financial condition by requiring us to incur additional indebtedness in order to complete such transactions or, alternatively, in some cases we may have the option to issue shares of our common stock to our joint venture partners to satisfy such obligations, which would dilute the ownership of our existing shareholders. When our joint venture partners seek to exercise their exit rights, we may be unable to agree on the value of their interests, which could harm our relationship with our joint venture partners or potentially result in litigation.
•Our joint venture partners may have competing interests in our markets that could create conflict of interest issues.
•Any sale or other disposition of our interest in a joint venture or underlying assets of the joint venture may require consents from our joint venture partners, which we may not be able to obtain.
•Certain corporate-wide or strategic transactions may also trigger other contractual rights held by a joint venture partner (including termination or liquidation rights) depending on how the transaction is structured, which could impact our ability to complete such transactions.
•Our joint venture arrangements that involve financial and ownership relationships with physicians and others who either refer or influence the referral of patients to our hospitals or other healthcare facilities are subject to greater regulatory scrutiny from government enforcement agencies. While we endeavor to comply with the applicable safe harbors under the Anti-kickback Statute, certain of our current arrangements, including joint venture arrangements, do not qualify for safe harbor protection.
Risks Related to Conifer
We cannot provide any assurances that we will be successful in completing the proposed spin-off of Conifer.
We cannot predict the outcome of the process we have begun to pursue a tax-free spin-off of Conifer. We cannot provide any assurances regarding the timeframe for completing the spin-off, the allocation of assets and liabilities between Tenet and Conifer, that the other conditions of the spin-off will be met, or that the spin-off will be completed at all. We also cannot provide any assurances that the proposed spin-off of Conifer will achieve the business goals or the benefits we expect. Additional risks regarding our divestiture and other corporate development activities, including the planned spin-off of Conifer are described above under “We cannot provide any assurances that we will be successful in divesting assets in non-core markets.”
A spin-off of Conifer could adversely affect our earnings and cash flows.
Conifer contributes a significant portion of the Company’s earnings and cash flows. We have begun to pursue a tax-free spin-off of Conifer. Although there can be no assurance that this process will result in a consummated transaction, any separation of all or a portion of Conifer’s business could adversely affect our earnings and cash flows.
Conifer operates in a highly competitive industry, and its current or future competitors may be able to compete more effectively than Conifer does, which could have a material adverse effect on Conifer’s margins, growth rate and market share.
As we pursue a spin-off of Conifer, we are continuing to market Conifer’s revenue cycle management, patient communications and engagement services, and value-based care solutions businesses. The timing and uncertainty associated with our plans for Conifer may have an adverse impact on Conifer’s ability to secure new clients. There can be no assurance that Conifer will be successful in generating new client relationships, including with respect to hospitals we or Conifer’s other clients sell, as the respective buyers of such hospitals may not continue to use Conifer’s services or, if they do, they may not do so under the same contractual terms. The market for Conifer’s solutions is highly competitive, and we expect competition may intensify in the future. Conifer faces competition from existing participants and new entrants to the revenue cycle management market, as well as from the staffs of hospitals and other healthcare providers who handle these processes internally. In addition, electronic medical record software vendors may expand into services offerings that compete with Conifer. To be successful, Conifer must respond more quickly and effectively than its competitors to new or changing opportunities, technologies, standards, regulations and client requirements. Moreover, existing or new competitors may introduce technologies or services that render Conifer’s technologies or services obsolete or less marketable. Even if Conifer’s technologies and services are more effective than the offerings of its competitors, current or potential clients might prefer competitive technologies or services to Conifer’s technologies and services. Furthermore, increased competition has resulted and may continue to result in pricing pressures, which could negatively impact Conifer’s margins, growth rate or market share.
Violations of existing regulations or failure to comply with new or changed regulations could harm Conifer’s business and financial results.
Conifer and its subsidiaries are subject to numerous federal, state and local consumer protection and other laws governing such topics as privacy, financial services, and billing and collections activities. Regulations governing Conifer’s operations are subject to changing interpretations that may be inconsistent among different jurisdictions. In addition, a regulatory determination made by, or a settlement or consent decree entered into with, one regulatory agency may not be binding upon, or preclude, investigations or regulatory actions by other agencies. Conifer’s failure to comply with applicable consumer protection and other laws could result in, among other things, the issuance of cease and desist orders (which can include orders for restitution or rescission of contracts, as well as other kinds of affirmative relief), the imposition of fines or
refunds, and other civil and criminal penalties, some of which could be significant in the case of knowing or reckless violations. In addition, Conifer’s failure to comply with the statutes and regulations applicable to it could result in reduced demand for its services, invalidate all or portions of some of Conifer’s services agreements with its clients, give clients the right to terminate Conifer’s services agreements with them or give rise to contractual liabilities, among other things, any of which could have a material adverse effect on Conifer’s business. Furthermore, if Conifer or its subsidiaries become subject to fines or other penalties, it could harm Conifer’s reputation, thereby making it more difficult for Conifer to retain existing clients or attract new clients.
Risks Related to Our Indebtedness
Our level of indebtedness could, among other things, adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry, and prevent us from meeting our obligations under the agreements relating to our indebtedness.
At December 31, 2020, we had approximately $15.7 billion of total long-term debt, as well as $88 million in standby letters of credit outstanding in the aggregate under our senior secured revolving credit facility (as amended, “Credit Agreement”) and our letter of credit facility agreement (as amended, “LC Facility”). Our Credit Agreement is collateralized by eligible inventory and patient accounts receivable, including receivables for Medicaid supplemental payments, of substantially all of our domestic wholly owned acute care and specialty hospitals, and our LC Facility is guaranteed and secured by a first priority pledge of the capital stock and other ownership interests of certain of our hospital subsidiaries on an equal ranking basis with our existing senior secured notes. From time to time, we expect to engage in additional capital market, bank credit and other financing activities, depending on our needs and financing alternatives available at that time.
The interest expense associated with our indebtedness offsets a substantial portion of our operating income. During 2020, our interest expense was $1.003 billion and represented 50% of our $1.989 billion of operating income. As a result, relatively small percentage changes in our operating income can result in a relatively large percentage change in our net income and earnings per share, both positively and negatively. In addition:
•Our substantial indebtedness may limit our ability to adjust to changing market conditions and place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt.
•We may be more vulnerable in the event of a deterioration in our business, in the healthcare industry or in the economy generally, or if federal or state governments substantially limit or reduce reimbursement under the Medicare or Medicaid programs.
•Our debt service obligations reduce the amount of funds available for our operations, capital expenditures and corporate development activities, and may make it more difficult for us to satisfy our financial obligations.
•Our substantial indebtedness could limit our ability to obtain additional financing to fund future capital expenditures, working capital, acquisitions or other needs.
•Our significant indebtedness may result in the market value of our stock being more volatile, potentially resulting in larger investment gains or losses for our shareholders, than the market value of the common stock of other companies that have a relatively smaller amount of indebtedness.
•A significant portion of our outstanding debt is subject to early prepayment penalties, such as “make-whole premiums”; as a result, it may be costly to pursue debt repayment as a deleveraging strategy.
Furthermore, our Credit Agreement, our LC Facility and the indentures governing our outstanding notes contain, and any future debt obligations may contain, covenants that, among other things, restrict our ability to pay dividends, incur additional debt and sell assets. See “Restrictive covenants in the agreements governing our indebtedness may adversely affect us.”
We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness, and we may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful.
Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance our indebtedness depends on our financial and operating performance, which is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to financial, business and other factors that may be beyond our control. We cannot assure you that we will maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness.
In addition, our ability to meet our debt service obligations is dependent upon the operating results of our subsidiaries and their ability to pay dividends or make other payments or advances to us. We hold most of our assets at, and conduct substantially all of our operations through, direct and indirect subsidiaries. Moreover, we are dependent on dividends or other intercompany transfers of funds from our subsidiaries to meet our debt service and other obligations, including payment on our outstanding debt. The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other payments or advances to us will depend on their operating results and will be subject to applicable laws and restrictions contained in agreements governing the debt of such subsidiaries. Our less than wholly owned subsidiaries may also be subject to restrictions on their ability to distribute cash to us in their financing or other agreements and, as a result, we may not be able to access their cash flows to service their respective debt obligations.
If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay capital expenditures, including those required for operating our existing facilities, for integrating our historical acquisitions or for future corporate development activities, and such reduction or delay could continue for years. We also may be forced to sell assets or operations, seek additional capital, or restructure or refinance our indebtedness. We cannot assure you that we would be able to take any of these actions, that these actions would be successful and permit us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations, or that these actions would be permitted under the terms of our existing or future debt agreements, including our Credit Agreement, our LC Facility and the indentures governing our outstanding notes.
Restrictive covenants in the agreements governing our indebtedness may adversely affect us.
Our Credit Agreement, our LC Facility and the indentures governing our outstanding notes contain various covenants that, among other things, limit our ability and the ability of our subsidiaries to:
•incur, assume or guarantee additional indebtedness;
•make certain investments;
•provide subsidiary guarantees;
•consummate asset sales;
•redeem debt that is subordinated in right of payment to outstanding indebtedness;
•enter into sale and lease-back transactions;
•enter into transactions with affiliates; and
•consolidate, merge or sell all or substantially all of our assets.
These restrictions are subject to a number of important exceptions and qualifications. In addition, under certain circumstances, the terms of our Credit Agreement require us to maintain a financial ratio relating to our ability to satisfy certain fixed expenses, including interest payments. Our ability to meet this financial ratio and the aforementioned restrictive covenants may be affected by events beyond our control, and we cannot assure you that we will meet those tests. These restrictions could limit our ability to obtain future financing, make acquisitions or needed capital expenditures, withstand economic downturns in our business or the economy in general, conduct operations or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities that may arise. In addition, a breach of any of these covenants could cause an event of default, which, if not cured or waived, could require us to repay the indebtedness immediately. Under these conditions, we are not certain whether we would have, or be able to obtain, sufficient funds to make accelerated payments.
Despite current indebtedness levels, we may be able to incur substantially more debt or otherwise increase our leverage. This could further exacerbate the risks described above.
We have the ability to incur additional indebtedness in the future, subject to the restrictions contained in our Credit Agreement, our LC Facility and the indentures governing our outstanding notes. We may decide to incur additional secured or unsecured debt in the future to finance our operations and any judgments or settlements or for other business purposes. Similarly, if we complete the proposed spin-off of Conifer or continue to sell assets and do not use the proceeds to repay debt, this could further increase our financial leverage.
Our Credit Agreement provides for revolving loans in an aggregate principal amount of up to $1.9 billion, with a $200 million subfacility for standby letters of credit. Based on our eligible receivables, $1.9 billion was available for borrowing under the Credit Agreement at December 31, 2020. Our LC Facility provides for the issuance of standby and documentary letters of credit in an aggregate principal amount of up to $200 million. At December 31, 2020, we had no cash borrowings outstanding under the Credit Agreement, and we had $88 million of standby letters of credit outstanding in the aggregate under the Credit Agreement and the LC Facility. If new indebtedness is added or our leverage increases, the related risks that we now face could intensify.
ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
The disclosure required under this Item is included in Item 1, Business, of Part I of this report.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
Because we provide healthcare services in a highly regulated industry, we have been and expect to continue to be party to various lawsuits, claims and regulatory investigations from time to time. For information regarding material pending legal proceedings in which we are involved, see Note 17 to our Consolidated Financial Statements, which is incorporated by reference.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Common Stock. Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “THC.” As of February 12, 2021, there were 3,620 holders of record of our common stock. Our transfer agent and registrar is Computershare. Shareholders with questions regarding their stock certificates, including inquiries related to exchanging or replacing certificates or changing an address, should contact the transfer agent at (866) 229-8416.
Equity Compensation. Refer to Item 12, Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters, of Part III of this report, as well as Note 10 to our Consolidated Financial Statements, for information regarding securities authorized for issuance under our equity compensation plans.
Stock Performance Graph. The following graph shows the cumulative, five-year total return for our common stock compared to the following indices:
•The S&P 500, a stock market index that measures the equity performance of 500 large companies listed on the stock exchanges in the United States (in which we are not included);
•The S&P 500 Health Care, a stock market index comprised of those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as part of the healthcare sector (in which we are not included); and
•A group made up of us and our hospital company peers (namely, Community Health Systems, Inc. (CYH), HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA), Tenet Healthcare Corporation (THC) and Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS)), which we refer to as our “Peer Group”.
Performance data assumes that $100.00 was invested on December 31, 2015 in our common stock and each of the indices. The data assumes the reinvestment of all cash dividends and the cash value of other distributions. Moreover, in accordance with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) regulations, the returns of each company in our Peer Group have been weighted according to the respective company’s stock market capitalization at the beginning of each period for which a return is indicated. The stock price performance shown in the graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance. The performance graph shall not be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), or incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act, except as shall be expressly set forth by specific reference in such filing.
|Tenet Healthcare Corporation||$||100.00 ||$||48.98 ||$||50.03 ||$||56.57 ||$||125.51 ||$||131.78 |
|S&P 500||$||100.00 ||$||111.96 ||$||136.40 ||$||130.42 ||$||171.49 ||$||203.04 |
|S&P Health Care||$||100.00 ||$||97.31 ||$||118.79 ||$||126.47 ||$||152.81 ||$||173.36 |
|Peer Group||$||100.00 ||$||94.76 ||$||108.52 ||$||143.41 ||$||177.85 ||$||194.31 |
ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
INTRODUCTION TO MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
The purpose of this section, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (“MD&A”), is to provide a narrative explanation of our financial statements that enables investors to better understand our business, to enhance our overall financial disclosures, to provide the context within which our financial information may be analyzed, and to provide information about the quality of, and potential variability of, our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. MD&A, which should be read in conjunction with the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements, includes the following sections:
•Sources of Revenue for Our Hospital Operations Segment
•Results of Operations
•Liquidity and Capital Resources
•Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
•Recently Issued Accounting Standards
•Critical Accounting Estimates
Our Hospital Operations and other (“Hospital Operations”) segment is comprised of our acute care and specialty hospitals, ancillary outpatient facilities, urgent care centers, micro-hospitals and physician practices. As described in Note 5 to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements, certain of these facilities were classified as held for sale at December 31, 2020 and 2019. Our Ambulatory Care segment is comprised of the operations of USPI Holding Company, Inc. (“USPI”), in which we own a 95% interest, and included nine European Surgical Partners Limited facilities until their divestiture effective August 17, 2018. At December 31, 2020, USPI had interests in 308 ambulatory surgery centers (“ASCs”), 40 urgent care centers, 24 imaging centers and 24 surgical hospitals in 31 states. As described in Note 5 to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements, certain of these facilities were classified as held for sale at December 31, 2020. Our Conifer segment provides revenue cycle management and value-based care services to hospitals, health systems, physician practices, employers and other clients, through our Conifer Holdings, Inc. (“Conifer”) subsidiary. Nearly all of the services comprising the operations of our Conifer segment are provided by Conifer Health Solutions, LLC, in which we owned a 76.2% interest as of December 31, 2020, or by one of its direct or indirect wholly owned subsidiaries.
As described in Note 1 to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements, our results for prior periods have been recast to reflect retrospective application of a change in accounting principle. Unless otherwise indicated, all financial and statistical information included in MD&A relates to our continuing operations, with dollar amounts expressed in millions (except per adjusted patient admission and per adjusted patient day amounts). Continuing operations information includes the results of our same 65 hospitals operated throughout the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, and the three Chicago‑area hospitals we divested effective January 28, 2019. Continuing operations information excludes the results of our hospitals and other businesses that have been classified as discontinued operations for accounting purposes.
Acquisition of Ambulatory Surgery Centers—In December 2020, we acquired controlling ownership interests in 45 ASCs (collectively, the “SCD Centers”) from SurgCenter Development and physician owners for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $1.1 billion and the assumption of approximately $18 million of center-level debt. The transaction was fully funded with cash on hand separate from grant funds we have received from COVID-19 relief legislation, as described below. USPI will provide management services to each of the SCD Centers pursuant to the terms of management service agreements. The acquisition of the SCD Centers increased the number of USPI’s ASCs by more than 15%. In addition, it significantly expanded USPI’s presence in the musculoskeletal surgery market, a high-demand clinical service line. The SCD Centers complement our facilities in existing markets in Arizona, Florida and Texas, while also giving USPI a foothold in newer markets, such as Maryland and Wisconsin.
Definitive Agreement to Sell Urgent Care Platform—Also in December 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell the majority of our urgent care centers operated under the MedPost and CareSpot brands to an unaffiliated independent urgent care provider. These facilities, along with related assets, were classified as held for sale in the accompanying
Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2020. We expect the transaction to be completed in the three months ending March 31, 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.
Redemption of Senior Unsecured Notes—In February 2021, we announced plans to redeem all $478 million aggregate principal amount outstanding of our 7.000% senior unsecured notes due 2025. We expect this redemption to result in annual interest savings of approximately $33 million.
IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all three segments of our business, as well as our patients, communities and employees. The spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing response of federal, state and local authorities beginning in March 2020 resulted in a material reduction in our patient volumes and also adversely affected our net operating revenues in the year ended December 31, 2020. In accordance with governmental mandates, from mid‑March through early May 2020, we suspended elective procedures at many of our hospitals and ASCs; we also voluntarily reduced operating hours or temporarily closed some of our outpatient centers during this time. Restrictive measures, including travel bans, social distancing, quarantines and shelter-in-place orders, also reduced the number of procedures performed at our facilities more generally, as well as the volume of emergency room and physician office visits. We began experiencing gradual and continued improvement in patient volumes in May 2020 as various states eased stay-at-home restrictions and our facilities were permitted to resume elective surgeries and other procedures. Broad economic factors resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased unemployment rates and reduced consumer spending, also impacted our patient volumes, service mix and revenue mix in the year ended December 31, 2020. The pandemic had an adverse effect on our operating expenses in 2020, as well. In some of our markets, we were required to utilize higher-cost temporary labor and pay premiums above standard compensation for essential workers. We also experienced significant price increases in medical supplies, particularly for personal protective equipment. Moreover, we encountered supply chain disruptions, including shortages and delays. We continue to experience many of the aforementioned effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business in varying degrees.
As described under “Sources of Revenue for Our Hospital Operations Segment” below, various legislative actions have mitigated some of the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on our business. Additional funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (“Provider Relief Fund” or “PRF”) was among the provisions of the COVID-19 relief legislation. In the year ended December 31, 2020, we received cash payments of $974 million, and we recognized approximately $882 million and $17 million as grant income and in equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliates, respectively, in our accompanying Consolidated Statements of Operations due to grants from the PRF and other state and local grant programs. In the year ended December 31, 2020, we also received advance payments of approximately $1.5 billion from the Medicare accelerated payment program due to the revisions to that program under COVID-19 relief legislation. We expect to repay these advances within the allocated recoupment period.
Throughout MD&A, we have provided additional information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our results of operations and the steps we have taken, and are continuing to take, in response. The ultimate extent and scope of the pandemic remains unknown. For information about risks and uncertainties around COVID-19 that could affect our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, see the Risk Factors section in Part I of this report.
TRENDS AND STRATEGIES
As described above and throughout MD&A, we experienced a significant disruption to our business in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we have seen gradual and continued improvement in our patient volumes since mid-year, we continue to experience negative impacts of the pandemic on our business in varying degrees, the length and extent of which are currently unknown. While demand for our services is expected to further rebound in the future, we have taken, and continue to take, various actions to increase our liquidity and mitigate the impact of reductions in our patient volumes and operating revenues from the pandemic. In the year ended December 31, 2020, we sold new senior notes and senior secured first lien notes, redeemed existing senior notes with the highest interest rate and nearest maturity date of all of our long-term debt, and amended our revolving credit facility, all as described below. We also reduced our planned capital expenditures for 2020 by approximately 25%. Furthermore, we decreased our employee headcount throughout the organization, and we deferred certain operating expenses that were not expected to impact our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we reduced certain variable costs across the enterprise. We believe these actions, together with government relief packages, to the extent available to us, will help us to continue operating during the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information on our liquidity, see “Liquidity and Capital Resources” below.
In recent years, the healthcare industry, in general, and the acute care hospital business, in particular, have also been experiencing significant regulatory uncertainty based, in large part, on administrative, legislative and judicial efforts to
significantly modify or repeal and potentially replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”). It is difficult to predict the full impact of regulatory uncertainty on our future revenues and operations. In addition, we believe that several key trends have shaped the demand for healthcare services in recent years: (1) consumers, employers and insurers are actively seeking lower-cost solutions and better value as they focus more on healthcare spending; (2) patient volumes are shifting from inpatient to outpatient settings due to technological advancements and demand for care that is more convenient, affordable and accessible; (3) the growing aging population requires greater chronic disease management and higher-acuity treatment; and (4) consolidation continues across the entire healthcare sector.
Driving Growth in Our Hospital Systems—We are committed to better positioning our hospital systems and competing more effectively in the ever-evolving healthcare environment by focusing on driving performance through operational effectiveness, increasing capital efficiency and margins, investing in our physician enterprise, particularly our specialist network, enhancing patient and physician satisfaction, growing our higher-demand and higher-acuity clinical service lines (including outpatient lines), expanding patient and physician access, and optimizing our portfolio of assets. Over the past several years, we have undertaken enterprise-wide cost reduction initiatives, comprised primarily of workforce reductions (including streamlining corporate overhead and centralized support functions), the renegotiation of contracts with suppliers and vendors, and the consolidation of office locations. Moreover, we established offshore support operations in the Philippines. In conjunction with these initiatives and our cost-saving efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we incurred restructuring charges related to employee severance payments of $65 million in the year ended December 31, 2020, and we expect to incur additional such restructuring charges in 2021.
We also continue to exit service lines, businesses and markets that we believe are no longer a core part of our long-term growth strategy. In December 2020, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell the majority of our urgent care centers operated under the MedPost and CareSpot brands from our Hospital Operations and Ambulatory Care segments. We intend to continue to further refine our portfolio of hospitals and other healthcare facilities when we believe such refinements will help us improve profitability, allocate capital more effectively in areas where we have a stronger presence, deploy proceeds on higher-return investments across our business, enhance cash flow generation, reduce our debt and lower our ratio of debt-to-Adjusted EBITDA.
Improving the Customer Care Experience—As consumers continue to become more engaged in managing their health, we recognize that understanding what matters most to them and earning their loyalty is imperative to our success. As such, we have enhanced our focus on treating our patients as traditional customers by: (1) establishing networks of physicians and facilities that provide convenient access to services across the care continuum; (2) expanding service lines aligned with growing community demand, including a focus on aging and chronic disease patients; (3) offering greater affordability and predictability, including simplified registration and discharge procedures, particularly in our outpatient centers; (4) improving our culture of service; and (5) creating health and benefit programs, patient education and health literacy materials that are customized to the needs of the communities we serve. Through these efforts, we intend to improve the customer care experience in every part of our operations.
Expansion of Our Ambulatory Care Segment—We continue to focus on opportunities to expand our Ambulatory Care segment through organic growth, building new outpatient centers, corporate development activities and strategic partnerships. In December 2020, we acquired controlling ownership interests in the SCD Centers, which significantly increased USPI’s presence in the musculoskeletal surgery market, a high-demand clinical service line, particularly for an aging population. We also acquired controlling interests in seven additional ASCs and one imaging center, opened two new ASCs and opened one urgent care center during the year ended December 31, 2020. We believe USPI’s ASCs and surgical hospitals offer many advantages to patients and physicians, including greater affordability, predictability, flexibility and convenience. Moreover, due in part to advancements in medical technology, and due to the lower cost structure and greater efficiencies that are attainable at a specialized outpatient site, we believe the volume and complexity of surgical cases performed in an outpatient setting will continue to increase following the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, our outpatient services have generated significantly higher margins for us than inpatient services.
Driving Conifer’s Growth While Pursuing a Tax-Free Spin-Off—We previously announced a number of actions to support our goals of improving financial performance and enhancing shareholder value, including the exploration of strategic alternatives for Conifer. In July 2019, we announced our intention to pursue a tax-free spin-off of Conifer as a separate, independent, publicly traded company. Completion of the proposed spin-off is subject to a number of conditions, including, among others, assurance that the separation will be tax-free for U.S. federal income tax purposes, execution of a restructured long-term services agreement between Conifer and Tenet, finalization of Conifer’s capital structure, the effectiveness of appropriate filings with the SEC, and final approval from our board of directors. Although we are continuing to pursue the
Conifer spin-off, there can be no assurance regarding the timeframe for completion, the allocation of assets and liabilities between Tenet and Conifer, that the other conditions of the spin-off will be met, or that it will be completed at all.
Conifer serves approximately 630 Tenet and non-Tenet hospital and other clients nationwide. In addition to providing revenue cycle management services to health systems and physicians, Conifer provides support to both providers and self-insured employers seeking assistance with clinical integration, financial risk management and population health management. Conifer remains focused on driving growth by continuing to market and expand its revenue cycle management and value-based care solutions businesses. We believe that our success in growing Conifer and increasing its profitability depends in part on our success in executing the following strategies: (1) attracting hospitals and other healthcare providers that currently handle their revenue cycle management processes internally as new clients; (2) generating new client relationships through opportunities from USPI and Tenet’s acute care hospital acquisition and divestiture activities; (3) expanding revenue cycle management and value-based care service offerings through organic development and small acquisitions; and (4) leveraging data from tens of millions of patient interactions for continued enhancement of the value-based care environment to drive competitive differentiation.
Improving Profitability—As we return to more normal operations, we will continue to focus on growing patient volumes and effective cost management as a means to improve profitability. We believe our inpatient admissions have been constrained in recent years (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) by increased competition, utilization pressure by managed care organizations, new delivery models that are designed to lower the utilization of acute care hospital services, the effects of higher patient co-pays, co-insurance amounts and deductibles, changing consumer behavior, and adverse economic conditions and demographic trends in certain of our markets. However, we also believe that emphasis on higher-demand clinical service lines (including outpatient services), focus on expanding our ambulatory care business, cultivation of our culture of service, participation in Medicare Advantage health plans that have been experiencing higher growth rates than traditional Medicare, and contracting strategies that create shared value with payers should help us grow our patient volumes over time. We are also continuing to explore new opportunities to enhance efficiency, including further integration of enterprise-wide centralized support functions, outsourcing additional functions unrelated to direct patient care, and reducing clinical and vendor contract variation.
Reducing Our Leverage Over Time—All of our outstanding long-term debt has a fixed rate of interest, except for outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility, and the maturity dates of our notes are staggered from 2023 through 2031. We believe that our capital structure minimizes the near-term impact of increased interest rates, and the staggered maturities of our debt allow us to refinance our debt over time. Although we issued $1.300 billion aggregate principal amount of senior secured first lien notes in 2020 to manage our liquidity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is nonetheless our long‑term objective to reduce our debt and lower our ratio of debt-to-Adjusted EBITDA, primarily through more efficient capital allocation and Adjusted EBITDA growth, which should lower our refinancing risk. Moreover, in 2020, we sold $2.500 billion aggregate principal amount of senior notes to finance the redemption of senior notes with the highest interest rate and nearest maturity date of all of our long-term debt. These transactions eliminated any significant debt maturities until June 2023, as well as reduced future annual cash interest expense payments by approximately $50 million.
Our ability to execute on our strategies and respond to the aforementioned trends is subject to the extent and scope of the impact on our operations of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a number of other risks and uncertainties, all of which may cause actual results to be materially different from expectations. For information about risks and uncertainties that could affect our results of operations, see the Forward-Looking Statements and Risk Factors sections in Part I of this report.
RECENT RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
We have provided below certain selected operating statistics for the three months ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 on a continuing operations basis, which includes the results of our same 65 hospitals operated throughout the three months ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 and the three Chicago-area hospitals we divested effective January 28, 2019. The following tables also show information about facilities in our Ambulatory Care segment that we control and, therefore, consolidate. We believe this information is useful to investors because it reflects our current portfolio of operations and the recent trends we are experiencing with respect to volumes, revenues and expenses. We present certain metrics on a per adjusted patient admission basis to show trends other than volume.
| ||Three Months Ended December 31,|
|Selected Operating Statistics||2020||2019||Increase|
|Hospital Operations – hospitals and related outpatient facilities:|| || || |
|Number of hospitals (at end of period)||65 ||65 ||— ||(1)|
|Total admissions||152,694 ||170,815 ||(10.6)||%|
Adjusted patient admissions(2)
|261,097 ||306,384 ||(14.8)||%|
|Paying admissions (excludes charity and uninsured)||143,195 ||160,244 ||(10.6)||%|
|Charity and uninsured admissions||9,499 ||10,571 ||(10.1)||%|
|Admissions through emergency department||114,887 ||122,339 ||(6.1)||%|
|Emergency department visits, outpatient||466,179 ||645,791 ||(27.8)||%|
|Total emergency department visits||581,066 ||768,130 ||(24.4)||%|
|Total surgeries||95,467 ||106,399 ||(10.3)||%|
|Patient days — total||790,522 ||796,239 ||(0.7)||%|
Adjusted patient days(2)
|1,322,063 ||1,394,191 ||(5.2)||%|
|Average length of stay (days)||5.18 ||4.66 ||11.2 ||%|
|Average licensed beds||17,203 ||17,211 ||— ||%|
Utilization of licensed beds(3)
|49.9 ||%||50.3 ||%||(0.4)||%||(1)|
|Total visits||1,441,157 ||1,700,696 ||(15.3)||%|
|Paying visits (excludes charity and uninsured)||1,350,576 ||1,586,704 ||(14.9)||%|
|Charity and uninsured visits||90,581 ||113,992 ||(20.5)||%|
|Total consolidated facilities (at end of period)||290 ||238 ||52 ||(1)|
|Total cases||566,519 ||549,319 ||3.1 ||%|
|(1)||The change is the difference between the 2020 and 2019 amounts shown.|
|(2)||Adjusted patient admissions/days represents actual patient admissions/days adjusted to include outpatient services provided by facilities in our Hospital Operations segment by multiplying actual patient admissions/days by the sum of gross inpatient revenues and outpatient revenues and dividing the results by gross inpatient revenues.|
Utilization of licensed beds represents patient days divided by number of days in the period divided by average licensed beds.
Total admissions decreased by 18,121, or 10.6%, in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2019, and total surgeries decreased by 10,932, or 10.3%, in the 2020 period compared to the 2019 period. Total emergency department visits decreased 24.4% in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in the prior year. The decrease in our patient volumes from continuing operations in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2019 reflects the continued adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Ambulatory Care total cases increased 3.1% in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the 2019 period.
| ||Three Months Ended December 31,|
|Net operating revenues|
|Hospital Operations prior to inter-segment eliminations||$||4,065 ||$||3,983 ||2.1 ||%|
|Ambulatory Care||649 ||632 ||2.7 ||%|
|Conifer||344 ||332 ||3.6 ||%|
|Inter-segment eliminations||(143)||(141)||1.4 ||%|
|Total||$||4,915 ||$||4,806 ||2.3 ||%|
Net operating revenues increased by $109 million, or 2.3%, in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, primarily due to higher patient acuity, a more favorable payer mix, incremental revenue from new service lines, and improved terms of our managed care contracts, partially offset by the impact of lower patient volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the three months ended December 31, 2020, our Hospital Operations and Ambulatory Care segments were also impacted by the revised grant guidelines included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was enacted on December 28, 2020, and the receipt of additional grant funds during the period primarily by our Ambulatory Care segment. As a result, our Hospital Operations and Ambulatory Care segments recognized grant income from federal, state and local programs totaling $406 million and $40 million ($9 million of which is included in equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliates), respectively, in the three months ended December 31, 2020, which amounts are not included in net operating revenues.
Our accounts receivable days outstanding (“AR Days”) from continuing operations were 55.6 days at December 31, 2020 and 58.4 days at December 31, 2019, compared to our target of less than 55 days. AR Days are calculated as our accounts receivable from continuing operations on the last day of the quarter divided by our net operating revenues from continuing operations for the quarter ended on that date divided by the number of days in the quarter. This calculation includes our Hospital Operations contract assets, as well as the accounts receivable of the facilities in our urgent care platform that have been classified in assets held for sale on our Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2020, and excludes (i) three Chicago-area hospitals we divested effective January 28, 2019, and (ii) our California provider fee revenues.
| ||Three Months Ended December 31,|
|Selected Operating Expenses||2020||2019||Increase|
|Hospital Operations|| || || |
|Salaries, wages and benefits||$||1,892 ||$||1,887 ||0.3 ||%|
|Supplies||674 ||670 ||0.6 ||%|
|Other operating expenses||910 ||887 ||2.6 ||%|
|Total||$||3,476 ||$||3,444 ||0.9 ||%|
|Ambulatory Care|| || || |
|Salaries, wages and benefits||$||171 ||$||168 ||1.8 ||%|
|Supplies||149 ||132 ||12.9 ||%|
|Other operating expenses||91 ||86 ||5.8 ||%|
|Total||$||411 ||$||386 ||6.5 ||%|
|Conifer|| || || |
|Salaries, wages and benefits||$||162 ||$||175 ||(7.4)||%|
|Supplies||1 ||1 ||— ||%|
|Other operating expenses||70 ||62 ||12.9 ||%|
|Total||$||233 ||$||238 ||(2.1)||%|
|Total|| || || |
|Salaries, wages and benefits||$||2,225 ||$||2,230 ||(0.2)||%|
|Supplies||824 ||803 ||2.6 ||%|
|Other operating expenses||1,071 ||1,035 ||3.5 ||%|
|Total||$||4,120 ||$||4,068 ||1.3 ||%|
| || || |
|Hospital Operations||$||74 ||$||62 ||19.4 ||%|
|Ambulatory Care||25 ||23 ||8.7 ||%|
|Conifer||3 ||2 ||50.0 ||%|
|Total||$||102 ||$||87 ||17.2 ||%|
Included in other operating expenses.
| ||Three Months Ended December 31,|
|Selected Operating Expenses per Adjusted Patient Admission||2020||2019||Increase|
|Hospital Operations|| || || |
Salaries, wages and benefits per adjusted patient admission(1)
|$||7,244 ||$||6,156 ||17.7 ||%|
Supplies per adjusted patient admission(1)
|2,583 ||2,190 ||17.9 ||%|
Other operating expenses per adjusted patient admission(1)
|3,480 ||2,885 ||20.6 ||%|
|Total per adjusted patient admission||$||13,307 ||$||11,231 ||18.5 ||%|
|(1)||Calculation excludes the expenses from our health plan businesses. Adjusted patient admissions represents actual patient admissions adjusted to include outpatient services provided by facilities in our Hospital Operations segment by multiplying actual patient admissions by the sum of gross inpatient revenues and outpatient revenues and dividing the results by gross inpatient revenues.|
Salaries, wages and benefits for our Hospital Operations segment increased $5 million, or 0.3%, in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This change was primarily due to increased health benefits costs, an increased average length of patient stay, and the impact of higher temporary labor and premium pay, as well as annual merit increases for certain of our employees, a greater number of employed physicians and increased incentive compensation expense in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2019. Our continued focus on strategic cost-reduction and efficiency measures partially mitigated the impact of the COVID-19 surges in our markets in the three months ended December 31, 2020. On a per adjusted patient admission basis, salaries, wages and benefits increased 17.7% in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2019 primarily due to reduced patient volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supplies expense for our Hospital Operations segment increased $4 million, or 0.6%, in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This change was primarily attributable to increased costs for certain supplies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as growth in our higher‑acuity, supply‑intensive surgical services, partially offset by the impact of the group-purchasing strategies and supplies-management services we utilize to reduce costs. On a per adjusted patient admission basis, supplies expense increased 17.9% in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2019 primarily due to reduced patient volumes as a result of the pandemic.
Other operating expenses for our Hospital Operations segment increased $23 million, or 2.6%, in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This increase was primarily due to higher medical fees, increased rent expense and higher information technology costs, partially offset by a gain on asset sales in the 2020 period related to the divestiture of a medical office building. There is proportionally a higher level of fixed costs (e.g., rent expense) in other operating expenses than salaries, wages and benefits or supplies expense. On a per adjusted patient admission basis, other operating expenses increased 20.6% in the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2019 due to reduced patient volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES OVERVIEW
Cash and cash equivalents were $2.446 billion at December 31, 2020 compared to $3.300 billion at September 30, 2020.
Significant cash flow items in the three months ended December 31, 2020 included:
•Net cash provided by operating activities before interest, taxes, discontinued operations and restructuring charges, acquisition-related costs, and litigation costs and settlements of $734 million, including $52 million of cash received from federal, state and local grants;
•Payments for restructuring charges, acquisition-related costs, and litigation costs and settlements of $81 million;
•Capital expenditures of $166 million;
•$1.116 billion of payments for the purchases of businesses or joint venture interests;
•Proceeds from sales of facilities and other assets of $64 million;
•Interest payments of $205 million; and
•$103 million of distributions paid to noncontrolling interests.
Net cash provided by operating activities was $3.407 billion in the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $1.233 billion in the year ended December 31, 2019. Key factors contributing to the change between the 2020 and 2019 periods include the following:
•Approximately $1.4 billion of cash advances received from Medicare pursuant to COVID-19 stimulus legislation;
•$900 million of cash received from federal, state and local grants, including the Provider Relief Fund;
•A $260 million deferral of our payroll tax match in 2020 pursuant to COVID-19 stimulus legislation;
•Decreased cash receipts of $81 million related to supplemental Medicaid programs in California and Texas;
•Higher interest payments of $16 million in the 2020 period;
•An increase of $141 million in payments on reserves for restructuring charges, acquisition-related costs, and litigation costs and settlements; and
•The timing of other working capital items.
SOURCES OF REVENUE FOR OUR HOSPITAL OPERATIONS SEGMENT
We earn revenues for patient services from a variety of sources, primarily managed care payers and the federal Medicare program, as well as state Medicaid programs, indemnity-based health insurance companies and uninsured patients (that is, patients who do not have health insurance and are not covered by some other form of third-party arrangement).
The following table shows the sources of net patient service revenues less implicit price concessions for our hospitals and related outpatient facilities, expressed as percentages of net patient service revenues less implicit price concessions from all sources: