Standard & Poor's, New York, said it doesn't expect 2006 to bring any major policy shifts that would buffet the broad healthcare market, including providers. S&P said it expects credit quality across healthcare this year to depend more on the actions of individual companies, such as acquisitions and financial maneuvers to unlock shareholder value, than on industry trends. Meanwhile, hospitals don't face significant reimbursement worries for 2006, S&P analyst Michael Kaplan said in an interview. Even if patient volumes remain flat, that can be mitigated with good cost control, Kaplan said. Rising bad-debt expense and higher costs for acquiring hospitals are concerns, but they are minor factors overall, he said. Also, many hospital companies are taking advantage of a greater willingness among lenders in general to lend to organizations with lower-quality credit, Kaplan said.
S&P predicts stable healthcare market for 2006
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