A lengthy story in MODERN HEALTHCARE's April 14 issue (p. 2) allowed Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. public relations officials to question the veracity of a press release by two consumer groups because of an error in misidentification. While we regret the error, Columbia's lobbying as we described it did occur, and the bill the company opposed did die.
In an April 4 press release, Citizen Action and Consumers Union misidentified the representative of Columbia who was lobbying on a hospital conversion bill in Washington state. Rather than sending Chief Executive Officer Richard Scott, as the release stated, Columbia sent two other executives. We issued a correction as soon as we learned of the error.
MODERN HEALTHCARE reported on the lobbying issue in a one-paragraph "News at deadline" item (April 7, p. 4). Your magazine then ran a follow-up story about the consumer groups "eating crow" that spanned two pages. As reported in the Seattle Times, the meetings between Columbia executives and Washington legislators that we described were confirmed by those lawmakers. The bill we identified was the topic of discussion at those meetings. And the bill Columbia opposed died later that week. MODERN HEALTHCARE neglected to give that update to its readers. The bill has now been revived due to media coverage of the lobbying blitz that killed it.
Director, West Coast regional office
Consumers Union, San Francisco