Disaster or Opportunity?
Meanwhile, back at CCA, calamity struck. I had been working on CCA's planned acquisition of a small Georgia hospital chain, but stock market analysts publicly doubted whether the company could close the deal. CCA was mired in financial turmoil and could find no lender for much needed additional borrowing. Its stock spiraled downward. CCA's falling stock price had sparked desperation. I saw company officials violate Securities and Exchange Commission laws in ways similar to what Enron would be charged with years later. CCA had manipulated earnings to shore up stock prices.
For example, I had prepared an unfavorable due diligence report for company executives regarding a potential hospital acquisition, revealing that the previous owner's earnings were clearly overstated. I also reported that there was a severe risk of liability due to inappropriately filed Medicare cost reports by this provider. I told the executives that there were too many skeletons in this hospital's closets and that we should reconsider the purchase. They had responded, “It's too late. We have to make it work; we already sold it to the board of directors and they approved the deal. We already announced it to the stockholders.” The meaning was clear: Management chose to ignore the harsh reality of the situation, putting the company at future risk.
Investors grew increasingly concerned about how Medicare and state Medicaid reimbursement changes could damage CCA's profits. Cash for operations was tight, vendors were paid late, and employees waited weeks