Fitch Ratings said downgrades of not-for-profit hospitals' debt outpaced upgrades 4-to-1 in the first half of 2003, compared with a 2-to-1 pace in the first half of last year. Fitch downgraded 15 hospitals and upgraded four, compared with eight downgrades and four upgrades in the first six months of 2002. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's reported a downgrade-to-upgrade ratio for hospitals of 2.8-to-1. A comparison for the year-earlier period wasn't available. The agencies cited cost pressures and revenue challenges. Healthcare bond volume in the first six months was $12.1 billion, up 8.7 % from the year-earlier period, according to Thomson Corp., Stamford, Conn. -- by Mary Chris Jaklevic
Rate of downgrades to upgrades worsens in 2003: Fitch
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