NEWS: Federal Judge Rejects Prime Healthcare’s Objections, Approves New Buyer to Purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital

For immediate release: Friday, June 29, 2012
Contact: David Tokaji, (213) 300-8892

VICTORVILLE, CA – A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a new buyer for Victory Valley Community Hospital over the objections of Prime Healthcare, a controversial hospital chain that has been trying for months to purchase the facility despite the state attorney general’s refusal to allow any sale to Prime.

The judge’s decision clears the way for State Attorney General Kamala Harris to approve the new buyer, KPC Group. Such approval is expected this summer.

“Our community needs a reputable buyer to take over VVCH, not a corporation like Prime that has a long track record of harming patients, caregivers, and communities,” said Sharon Magana, a healthcare worker who lives in the area.

Prime has a history of cutting unprofitable services and laying off experienced caregivers in hospitals it buys. In addition, major media outlets including the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the San Francisco Chronicle have reported that Prime bills Medicare for unusually high rates of severe malnutrition and that the FBI is investigating Prime for its billing practices. Prime Healthcare is also under investigation for extremely high rates of septicemia, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In September, State Attorney General Kamala Harris rejected a bid by Prime Healthcare to purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital, saying that such a sale “is not in the public interest.”

Prime has come under fire most recently for its questionable emergency room billing practices. A joint hearing of the State Senate and Assembly Health Committees in February examined the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits that Prime generates through its emergency room admissions using strategies that allegedly include holding patients captive in hospitals to increase revenue.

The hearing spawned a bill (SB 1285) that would limit such exploitative practices. SB 1285 is currently making its way through the state legislature and is expected to be voted on by the Assembly Health Committee next week.

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