Talk About Long Term Care

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NASHVILLE, Tenn: Three senior executives have been indicted in the sweeping federal investigation of Columbia/HCA , and face potential jail terms of 25 years on charges of conspiracy and making false statements to secure improper benefits and payments from Medicare. The announcement tainted Columbia's other news today: that second-quarter profits for the largest U.S. for-profit hospital group are up 15 percent since last year to $412 million. Working zealously to convince investigators that improprieties are the exceptions, new CEO Dr. Thomas Frist has hired an outside firm to scrutinize the firm's billing records and has announced a roll-back of all existing joint venture agreements with doctors and hospitals and a halt to those in the works, insisting he won't hang the Columbia name anywhere new until its been cleared. Fine, but investigators say they've only just begun.