The Final Straw
The February 21, 1995, shareholder announcement surprised few insiders, but press reports of a proposed merger between Columbia/HCA and HealthTrust, Inc. (a onetime division of HCA later spun off into a separate company), shocked the healthcare world. It was a big, audacious, and gutsy move. The merger would close in a few months, pending Federal Trade Commission approval. Company officials anticipated annual savings of approximately $125 million by controlling costs while maintaining quality patient care.
The previous mergers had created opportunities at Columbia/HCA, but the HealthTrust merger wreaked havoc for many reimbursement executives in the Columbia/HCA corporate hierarchy. The new vice president of reimbursement, Tom Johnson, guaranteed jobs for HealthTrust reimbursement executives, elevating many to top reimbursement slots in the merged company. He also replaced most of the vacancies with his HealthTrust staff. The company's Florida Group regional reimbursement office was relocated from Tallahassee to Winter Park. Trish Lindler, Columbia/HCA's Florida director of reimbursement, resigned. Her Nashville boss, Vice President of Reimbursement Jerry Glather, was demoted in the shuffle.
Shortly before Lindler resigned, she had asked me to clarify the reserve issues in a memo for her and Glather. I express-mailed a memo to both, hoping that they would finally take action. My memo listed six items, including the Fawcett interest issue. I included copies of pertinent docu-