Headquartered in the Columbia division office as supervisor of reimbursement services, I directed the audits of five hospitals formerly owned by Basic American Medical, Inc. (BAMI). Columbia Healthcare had acquired these hospitals only a year earlier in its huge expansion plan. My responsibilities included overseeing the hospitals' Medicare cost report filings and coordinating audits in conjunction with the fiscal intermediary. Less than two months after I arrived in Florida, the company expanded again when Columbia Healthcare and Galen Heath Care jointly announced shareholder approval for their merger on August 31, 1993. Galen Health Care, a short-lived spin-off of Humana, Inc., owned and operated approximately seventy hospitals. The colossal merger strengthened Columbia's dominance not only in Florida but in other markets as well. Like the proliferating melaleuca plant, Columbia Healthcare—which now owned ninetyfour hospitals and complementary healthcare facilities in eighteen states—was now choking out its competition. The two companies' combined estimated annual revenues exceeded $5 billion.
Rick Scott professed to forge a new path in healthcare, building comprehensive physician and hospital networks and improving efficiency while increasing access to quality medical care. The merger had consequences for Bob Whiteside and me. Until a new division office opened in Tampa, we would oversee all the Medicare reimbursement functions for every Columbia Healthcare hospital along the west coast of Florida, which