(VitalNews.org) – Two American senators launched a bipartisan probe last week into the involvement of a private equity firm with the nation’s healthcare system, demanding the firm hand over documents and information from high-level executives to determine how much they’ve profited from complex financial partnerships and deals that may have harmed both clinicians and patients.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, chair of the committee, are leading the investigation. Back in March, Grassley requested Apollo Global Management to hand over information related to a recent incident at a health center owned by the private equity firm. In 2021 and 2022, a male nurse working at Ottumwa Regional Health Center in Iowa assaulted nine female patients while they were sedated. Later, the nurse was found dead at the facility from an overdose.
In a statement, Grassley called the events at the health center “shocking” and said they “prompted” him “to ask tough questions about the activity of private equity firms and how their “financial maneuvers” may have a negative impact on rural hospital resources and “patient care.” The senator said that “a business model that prioritizes profits” over the safety and care of patients “is unacceptable.”
The Ottumwa Regional Health Center is run by Lifepoint Health. The senators requested that Lifepoint provide an internal document prepared for its board members that details possible deficiencies that possibly contributed to the “events against patients” at the Iowa facility. The purpose of the letter appears to be to try and connect the declining quality of health care in the US to financial engineering conducted by private equity firms.
The senators concluded that “quality health care” access isn’t “a partisan issue,” and that the Budget Committee will perform “an objective and independent review” of private-equity ownership’s impact on the quality of such care and “hospital operations.” According to the letter, the committee has broad authority to conduct such an investigation.
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