The $648.5 million settlement that HCA, Nashville, reached with the Justice Department in December led to a $418 million after-tax charge that left the nation's largest investor-owned chain with a loss for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Meanwhile, the much smaller for-profit chain Iasis Healthcare Corp., Franklin, Tenn., posted its fourth consecutive quarterly increase in profits. Including the charge, HCA lost $102 million, or 20 cents per share, for the fourth quarter. Revenue rose 10.7% to $5 billion. For 2002, HCA earned $833 million, or $1.59 per share, compared with $956 million, or $1.78 per share, in 2001. Revenue was up nearly 10%, to $19.7 billion. Without settlement charges, HCA's profits increased more than 40% for the quarter -- to $312 million -- and 11.5% for the year -- to nearly $1.3 billion. President and COO Richard Bracken said the company's growth is shifting from reimbursement increases to volume increases, which will be aided by $1.2 billion in capital projects coming into use this year.
Meanwhile, Iasis reported net income of $7.5 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $289,000 in the year-ago quarter, an improvement the company attributed to volume growth at its 14 hospitals. The 2002 first-quarter figure excludes a $39.5 million charge prompted by an accounting charge. Revenue for Iasis' fiscal 2003 first quarter was up 15.3%, to $254.8 million, and adjusted admissions rose 9.8%. -- by Vince Galloro