Sunday, March 28, 2010

Catholic Caritas Makes Deal With the Devil

It was simply a deal we couldn’t pass up’’

Is that how they got to be such demons?

"Cerberus... takes its name from the mythical three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell"

Finding it hard to believe that fact is eluding officials at the church, but then again, something even more nefarious did, right?

And what is that they say, the devil is in the details?

Meet the devil (and his lieutenants)

"Chief executive Steve Feinberg is known for being among the country’s most powerful — and secretive — financiers, rarely speaking to the media or making public appearances. Among Cerberus’s more visible faces are its chairman, John W. Snow, a Treasury secretary in the George W. Bush administration; and Dan Quayle, the former vice president... as the industry prepares for the implementation of the sweeping health care overhaul signed by President Obama this week"

Yup, globalists fronting for the (rhymes with) you-know-whos.

Opening Up the Health Care Bill

Yeah, it was all for you, Americans.

And now the watchdog of Hell will take care of you:

"Cerberus... borrowed against the store’s real estate assets to purchase the company, but made Mervyn’s repay the debt by charging the stores “substantially greater’’ rents to occupy properties that it just days before owned. Mervyn’s creditors said the additional costs were $80 million and contributed to the company’s bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the department store claimed the private equity firms paid themselves $58 million in fees from proceeds of the purchase, and $400 million in payments or distributions since then"

Better look over that hospital bill real good.

Now the fine print

"Equity firm set to buy Caritas; Catholic identity will be retained Hospitals to shift to for-profit status" by Robert Weisman, Globe Staff | March 25, 2010

Caritas Christi Health Care, the state’s second-largest hospital group, is set to disclose today that it has agreed to be acquired by New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in an $830 million deal that hospital officials say will allow the chain to shed debt and make major improvements.

Under the agreement, Cerberus’s first investment in hospitals, Caritas Christi’s management in Boston will continue running the Catholic community hospitals. In addition, Cerberus has pledged to keep the system’s 12,000 employees and won’t sell the hospitals or take them public for at least three years.

The firm said it hopes to expand its hospital holdings nationally and in Massachusetts, potentially making Caritas a more formidable competitor with large Boston hospitals for many routine procedures.

All six Caritas hospitals, including the flagship St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, will remain open and follow the Catholic Church’s ethical and religious directives, among them a ban on abortions. But they would convert from nonprofit to for-profit businesses and begin paying taxes to state and local governments.

Related: The Massachusetts Model: Tax-Exempt Memory Hole

The sale still faces significant hurdles and would have to be approved in the coming months by the state’s highest court, as well as government agencies and religious authorities....

Past efforts by for-profit health care companies to enter Massachusetts have raised alarms in state government and among health care advocates. The acquisition will also be subject to a public hearing before the state Department of Public Health, which would have to approve such a deal.

The Caritas board has approved the sale, but Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s approval is also needed. The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston created the system in 1985 to manage existing Catholic community hospitals. It became an independent nonprofit charity in May 2008 through an agreement with Attorney General Martha Coakley. But it retains a strong church affiliation, and three archdiocese representatives sit on the board.

Church officials are negotiating a “stewardship agreement’’ with Caritas that would formalize the commitment to keep the Catholic identities of the hospitals. One issue in those talks is likely to be how the preservation of Catholic directives could be guaranteed if Cerberus eventually sells the chain.

It was unclear yesterday how long it would take for government and church officials to approve the deal, or what objections might be raised. In a statement, the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, vicar general of the Boston Archdiocese, said Cerberus “will provide needed resources to serve patients with excellent quality and compassionate care long into the future.’’

Cerberus is known in financial circles as a turnaround specialist, a private equity firm that typically buys underperforming companies and makes them profitable so they can be sold at substantial gain for investors.


But some of its most recent and best known deals have been disastrous, including a failed effort to resurrect Chrysler Group LLC. The automaker went bankrupt last year after Cerberus bought an 80 percent stake in it, costing the buyout firm more than $1 billion.

Most of Cerberus’s investments have been successful, however, including its 2005 acquisition of Talecris Biotherapeutics Holdings Corp., a small North Carolina biotech it bought for $90 million and took public last year. It is now worth $2.5 billion.

Brett Ingersoll, co-head of private equity at Cerberus, called the Caritas acquisition “a big win for the hard-working communities of Greater Boston.’’ Ingersoll said the new owners plan to create jobs, expand local tax bases, and provide “world-class health care facilities.’’


Ralph de la Torre, chief executive of Caritas, said that while Caritas provides excellent medical care and is improving financially, it needs more cash for maintenance and improvements, and is weighed down by debt and pension obligations. To keep the pension funded, Caritas would have to contribute $24 million a year for the next 13 years.

“This deal gives us the financial sponsor that we need to truly fulfill our commitment to our employees, our pensioners, our patients in the community, and to the state of Massachusetts,’’ he said.

De la Torre, an MIT-trained engineer and cardiac surgeon, said he concluded shortly after coming to Caritas that the system would need outside money. In 2007, its weak finances led to the collapse of a tentative deal for it to be acquired by Ascension Health, a Catholic health care chain based in St. Louis. Since then, it has talked with other potential buyers, including the nonprofit Catholic Health Initiatives, for-profit companies such as Vanguard Health Systems, and other private equity firms.

Caritas and Cerberus were introduced through Cain Brothers, a New York investment banking firm that specializes in health care.


Now I UNDER$TAND EVEN MORE why that health tax had to be rammed through!

Caritas board chairman James J. Karam said the economic benefits and Cerberus’s commitment to run the chain under the Catholic umbrella swayed members. “In every one of these communities — Fall River, Brockton, Dorchester — these hospitals are economic engines as well as health care providers,’’ Karam said....

Under the agreement, Cerberus will invest $430 million to $450 million immediately to pay off Caritas debt, finance renovation projects, and provide working capital, while also assuming its pension liability. It will invest another $400 million over the next four years for additional improvements, including building projects at all six hospitals as well as to update information technology and care management systems ranging from inventory controls to surgical robotics to bedside monitoring equipment.

The goal is to generate a profit by turning what had been debt and pension payments into cash flow, by making operations more efficient, and by attracting more patients from other hospitals. Caritas officials said the aim is to provide quality community-based care at a reasonable cost.

And all it will cost you is your soul.

If the plan succeeds, Caritas hospitals would draw more patients for a range of routine services such as gall bladder removal, hip replacements, or disc surgery. Many such patients now go to more expensive Boston academic medical centers, like Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, or Tufts Medical Center.

“Under this model, the communities that Caritas serves are going to have better integrated care and better facilities,’’ said industry consultant Marc A. Bard, managing director for Navigant Consulting in Needham, who has advised Caritas on health care issues.

De la Torre estimated that shifting from nonprofit to for-profit status could generate $100 million in state and local taxes over the next five years. He also said the new organization would assume labor contracts that several Caritas hospitals negotiated last year with Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. He and Cerberus officials also said the Cerberus acquisition will create jobs, especially for construction and renovation work.

I have heard this talk so often and so often it never works out.

They did not offer specifics on the number of jobs.

De la Torre’s current Caritas contract contains a “change of control’’ clause that would give him a payout if the hospital group is sold. But the clause won’t be triggered by the Cerberus deal because he will remain as chief executive, according to Caritas officials. They declined to specify the amount of the payout in de la Torre’s change of control contract.

While de la Torre and other senior executives will retain their current salaries and benefits, they would be eligible for additional compensation from Cerberus based on the financial performance of the hospitals, Caritas officials said. They said the details of those financial incentives have yet to be worked out.

Oh, no.

Conversions of nonprofits to for-profit status have been rare in Massachusetts....

In such cases, the state Supreme Judicial Court reviews findings from the attorney general’s office, which considers such criteria as whether the transaction is in the public interest, whether the nonprofit has received “fair value’’ for its assets, and whether the nonprofit avoided conflict of interest during its decision-making. As part of a conversion to for-profit status, companies are generally required set aside money for the public’s benefit, such as by setting up a foundation.

I will get to that a bit later.


First, the guy who brokered the deal:

"Chain’s CEO vows deal will help it lower costs" by Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff | March 26, 2010

Caritas Christi Health Care’s chief executive pledged yesterday that the chain’s pending sale to a private equity firm will help it to reduce costs in a state where medical spending, most of it on hospital services, has been climbing by 7.5 percent a year....

Related: The Massachusetts Model: Rates Rising Through the Roof

Health care analysts and executives cautioned that predictions about the deal’s impact on overall medical spending and the competitive landscape are uncertain, especially amid the turmoil in the Massachusetts medical industry. It’s possible, some said, that Cerberus Capital Management’s large investment in new technology and services could, in the end, drive up prices.

And that is where you will be getting it, citizens of Massachusetts -- in the end.

Medical providers and insurers are under pressure to control soaring health care costs. Revelations about vast inequalities in how much hospitals and doctors are paid to provide similar care have increased scrutiny on the market power of certain providers, especially Partners HealthCare’s flagship Boston hospitals, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s. And on top of the federal health insurance law passed this week, the state is strongly leaning toward further regulation of the Massachusetts market.

It is against this complicated backdrop that venture capital giant Cerberus has proposed the largest conversion in this state of a nonprofit hospital chain to for-profit status.

For you, not them, bay-Staters.

“It’s very unclear what is going to happen in our health care system, so there are a lot of gambles on their part,’’ said Stuart Altman, professor of national health policy at The Heller School for Policy Management at Brandeis University.

They must know something then, huh?

If approved by regulators, the sale could raise costs if the infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars by Cerberus into the six Caritas hospitals makes the network so successful that it can attract more patients, generate increased demand for expensive imaging and other services, and win higher prices from insurers. But the deal could also lower costs if the stronger financial backing allows Caritas to better position itself as a lower-cost, high-quality alternative to high-priced Boston teaching hospitals and community hospitals.

Dr. Ralph de la Torre, the Caritas leader, said in an interview [that] the Cerberus money would enable the system to lower costs by, for example, allowing it to set up extensive electronic medical records across its hospitals and physician offices. Such a system would lead to fewer unnecessary and duplicative tests on patients, he said.

Related: As digital files replace paper, medical identity theft is apt to spread, too

Well, you know, it's a devil's choice.

Andrew Dreyfus — executive vice president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest health insurer — said de la Torre called him on Wednesday to explain the deal. Blue Cross has major contracts with the Caritas system to treat Blue Cross members.

“I take him at his word, that his interest and the system’s interest is to have a low-cost community-focused alternative to the larger academic systems that have been organized in the state,’’ Dreyfus said. “That would be a major asset to the Commonwealth.’’

He said de la Torre did not even hint at wanting higher fees because of the potential conversion to a for-profit system....

The insurer’s alternative quality contract includes a so-called global payment system, in which Caritas is paid fixed amounts based on the estimated annual costs of patient care, instead of the fee-for-service system in which providers bill insurers for individual visits and procedures. It also includes incentives to improve the quality and affordability of care.

It's called RATIONING, readers.

De la Torre said Cerberus is looking to develop Caritas into a template it can take national in a new health care environment that values affordability.

Thomas Glynn — chief operating officer of Partners HealthCare, the state’s largest provider network — said that if the company is interested in building a national hospital chain, “they may be interested in keeping costs lower because they don’t need to make a lot of money on this deal.’’

Glynn said the deal would make Caritas a more “formidable, viable competitor’’ and could give insurers “a strong benchmark to use against us’’ in negotiations for fee increases.

But health care analysts said the effects on Partners’ prices were likely to be muted, because the two networks are mostly located in different communities.

Also, some analysts said that a for-profit company is likely to expect higher returns than a nonprofit network and that one obvious way of generating those profits is by demanding higher prices from insurers.

And you wonder why health care costs are raising the roof, 'eh?

Several Caritas hospitals, and especially its physicians network, are now among the lowest-paid providers in the state, according to data insurance companies recently turned over to Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“These hospitals’ mission now is to make money,’’ said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C.

Still, just because a provider demands more money from insurers does not mean it will get it. “If a new entity comes in and says to the insurance companies, I want you to pay me more, why would they agree to that?’’ said Paul Levy, chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. More investment is “an argument we make all the time,’’ Levy said. “It’s not persuasive.’’

Seems to be for Partners.

The argument could become persuasive, however, if Caritas attracts significantly more patients, giving it the market leverage to demand and win higher payments.

Yeah, NOW WE SEE WHO BENEFITED off Obama's health tax, 'er, bill.

Ginsburg said the newly rich network could also focus on more profitable advanced services, such as robotic surgery and orthopedic surgery. “That quite possibly could increase costs by increasing demand and volume for those services in those communities,’’ he said.

Like Partners?

De la Torre said it is not the organization’s intention to become a top-paid network.

“People say we could end up with two Partners,’’ he said. “But that’s just not who we are.’’

Who said that (smile)?


So who is this guy?

"At Caritas helm, a doctor turned dealmaker; De la Torre’s rise fueled by energy, talent, ‘edge’" by Robert Weisman, Liz Kowalczyk, and Casey Ross, Globe Staff | March 28, 2010

Wall Street power broker Robert Nardelli remembers being immediately impressed with Dr. Ralph de la Torre last November, when they conversed over drinks and dinner at a California desert resort.

De la Torre, a Boston surgeon running Caritas Christi Health Care, had asked a mutual friend to arrange the meeting with Nardelli, the former Home Depot chief executive who had run Chrysler for a private equity firm.

Making it clear he had closely followed Nardelli’s career, de la Torre asked the older, more experienced businessman for advice on raising cash for his hospital system....

Based on that three-hour session at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, Nardelli, a top executive at Cerberus Capital Management, paved the way for the New York-based private equity firm to buy Caritas for $830 million. The deal, announced last week, would convert the nonprofit Catholic hospital and physician network into a for-profit company. Crucially, it would leave the 43-year-old de la Torre as chief executive of Caritas, while also putting him in charge of acquiring other hospitals for Cerberus.

Somehow I'm getting the feeling this is less about your health than theirs, readers.

The deal, if approved by regulators and the church, would complete de la Torre’s transformation from doctor to dealmaker. Once part of a group of young entrepreneurial heart surgeons, he made more than $1.3 million in 2009 at Caritas and now stands to win a much bigger payout from incentive compensation if he succeeds in building the six-hospital Eastern Massachusetts chain into a national juggernaut.

Yeah, he's doing fine!

He has landed here through intellect, moxie, and a relentless work ethic. He works 16-hour days three days a week, and the other two days he goes home to Newton after only 11 hours, so he can tuck in his twin 17-month-old boys.

“I only know how to do things one way — all in,’’ he said in an interview Friday.

Just as important, he has used his formidable skills as a salesman to persuade decision-makers and power brokers to take a chance on him and his bold, risky ideas....

Yup, an American hero.

Well, almost.

But, in other settings, he can also come off as brusque and impatient, ambitious, and self-confident to a fault, qualities that have rubbed some of those in his path the wrong way.

Born to Cuban immigrant parents who fled the Castro regime in 1960, de la Torre inherited the drive of his father, Angel, a Florida cardiologist. He remembers his father ordering him to work 12 to 16 hours a day as a hospital orderly when he was a teenager....

And Castro was a prick?

De la Torre graduated from Duke University in 1988 with an engineering degree, worked briefly as an engineer, and then came to Boston to attend Harvard Medical School and MIT. He trained as a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, abandoning plans to join his father’s practice in Jacksonville, Fla., when he met his wife, Wing, an immigrant from Hong Kong and a fellow doctor in training.

De la Torre took a job at Boston Medical Center as a cardiac surgeon in 1999. But he did not stay long....

At Beth Israel Deaconess, a mutual friend, Dr. William “Billy’’ Cohn, said, de la Torre quickly built a reputation as a gifted high-volume heart surgeon who could do complex and risky operations through very small incisions, called minimally invasive surgery. “He would at times lament that there had to be an easier way to make a buck,’’ Cohn said.

I guess he found it.

Within a year, Cohn said, de la Torre had hatched a plan to help them both....

De la Torre was not driven by money, but by his determination to be the best, his former colleague said. “He used to say, ‘It’s not about the money, but that’s one way people keep score.’ ’’

Not the saving lives part?

When de la Torre took the Caritas job, he and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center chief executive Paul Levy seemed to part on good terms — Levy wished de la Torre luck on his blog and de la Torre responded with a warm thank-you signed “Forever Family, Ralph.’’ But word began circulating in the hospital community that the two had a falling out, and that de la Torre was trying to woo Beth Israel Deaconess physicians.

“Once he left, they had skirmishes over doctors,’’ said Thomas Glynn, chief operating officer of Partners HealthCare. “They both had an investment in winning.’’

Neither Levy nor de la Torre will discuss the situation.

And these are the guys overseeing your health systems, 'eh, Massachusetts?

Caritas was struggling when de la Torre arrived, and he moved quickly to consolidate operations at the community hospitals. He cut jobs, froze salaries, negotiated higher reimbursement rates from insurers, and recruited specialists to perform more complex — and profitable — procedures such as prostate operations. The chain swung from a $20.5 million loss in fiscal 2008 to operating income of $30.5 million last year.

But he won't be jacking up costs this time to make profits!

Now consumed with the business side of health care, he let his medical license lapse....

Who wants to get their hands messy with all that doctoring?

But the Caritas system also suffered some embarrassing setbacks during de la Torre’s tenure. It abruptly ended a joint venture with a Missouri insurer at the insistence of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, who feared it would entangle the hospitals with abortion providers. And a senior executive hired by de la Torre stepped down after Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge complained about a threatening voice mail message the Caritas executive left for a Mount Auburn recruiter who was trying to lure away several top Caritas doctors.

Last week, with the promise of a shining new future for the cash-starved system, those setbacks seemed like distant memories. And the recent setbacks of Cerberus itself, including its failed investment in Chrysler, were not mentioned during de la Torre’s tour of his hospitals Friday....

“There’s a lot of misconceptions out there that because I’m Cuban, I’m tempestuous and hot tempered, and because I’m a cardiac surgeon, I’m a shoot-from-the-hip cowboy,’’ he told a reporter riding with him. “The reality is I’m the most obsessive compulsive person you’ll ever meet. I plan and micromanage to a fault.’’

About 8 a.m., the van pulled up in front of the hospital. De la Torre walked briskly into the lobby. “Let’s rock and roll,’’ he told chief operating officer Donna Rubinate.

Employees greeted him enthusiastically as he strode through corridors and offices. “Thank you for saving us,’’ Cathy Hull, an executive administrative assistant, called out as he passed her desk.

Yes, I believe she would f*** the very devil himself.

At a breakfast meeting of politicians and community leaders, he launched into a stump speech of sorts. “The question was, ‘Can we be who we need to be without capital?’ ’’ he asked rhetorically. “The answer is no. It was simply a deal we couldn’t pass up. So here we are.’’

At the gates of hell.

When he was finished, the audience erupted into sustained applause. As people came forward to congratulate him, de la Torre beamed.

Satan usually is when he's collecting souls.

--more --"

On his list:

"Charity’s call ingrained at Catholic hospitals" by Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff | March 26, 2010

Shortly after the Civil War, Andrew Carney, an Irish-born tailor who had made a small fortune selling uniforms to the US Navy, bequeathed $56,000 to a fledgling hospital in South Boston. He wanted it to serve the working class, “without distinction of creed, color, or nation.’’

War profiteering led to the Caritas system?

So they been working with the devil for a long time; he gave 'em seed money.

Even in those early days, Boston’s Catholic hospital had financial problems. The Daughters of Charity who ran it “begged daily in the streets of Boston for the money and food to keep the hospital open and the indigent patients fed,’’ historian Thomas H. O’Connor wrote in his book, “Boston Catholics.’’

Wasn't always wine and wafers, 'eh?

When word got back to the archbishop of the hospital’s plight, he organized a grand bazaar to raise money. It took in $25,000 and put the hospital on firm financial ground.

Nearly 150 years later, a private equity firm has stepped in with needed cash for the Carney and the other five hospitals in the Caritas Christi Health Care network, which have struggled in recent years to meet their mission to provide care to the poor, while making the improvements necessary to survive in a cutthroat and increasingly complex industry.

The firm, Cerberus Capital Management, has promised the hospitals will continue to be run as Catholic institutions, in accordance with Catholic teachings that prohibit procedures the church considers to be immoral, such as abortion and sterilization. Hospital leaders have cast the deal as a way to preserve Catholic health care in Boston.

But some Catholics felt a kind of end-of-an-era wistfulness yesterday.

“It’s kind of a watershed for the Catholic community of Boston and the Boston metro area,’’ said Thomas Groome, director of the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College.

I'd say so. A statue of the hound from hell going to be outside the entrance?

Catholic hospitals have a rich history in Boston, where they proliferated as waves of immigrants from Europe arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mostly run by religious orders of nuns, they were institutions whose charitable mission came first.

The Carney, which moved to Dorchester in the 1950s, served those least able to afford medical care, in particular the city’s burgeoning population of Irish Catholic immigrants. In the first half-century of its existence, according to an early history of the Archdiocese of Boston, 30,000 of the 70,000 patients admitted during the hospital’s first half-century paid nothing at all for their care.


St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was established in 1868 as a women’s hospital, a novel idea at the time, by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, according to the archdiocesan history, and soon became a pioneer in the nascent field of gynecology....

Wow, all these preconceived notions my Zionist-inculcated school and society had me believing about Catholics.

The hospitals remained independent over the years, and after the rush of Irish Catholic immigrants dissipated, they eventually made room for immigrants from other places, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa.

But in recent decades, the religious orders that ran the hospitals dwindled and were supplanted by lay people. Catholics became increasingly integrated into the larger society. New technologies posed both financial and ethical challenges for the hospitals. In the mid-1980s, Cardinal Bernard Law knit together the six independent hospitals that make up Caritas Christi “to emphasize church teachings in confronting new developments in medical science and biological research,’’ O’Connor wrote in “Boston Catholics.’’

As he was covering for pedophiles, 'eh?


Caritas has also struggled for ways to preserve its financial health without sacrificing its Catholic identity. But it has not been easy. A proposed partnership with a Catholic health care chain in St. Louis that might have helped it modernize fell through two years ago, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley then stopped an alliance with a non-Catholic out-of-state insurer because of concerns about its coverage of abortion at other facilities.

The Archdiocese of Boston declined yesterday to answer any questions about how O’Malley will decide whether to approve the proposed acquisition of Caritas, or for how long its Catholic identity would be guaranteed. And a Caritas spokesman did not acknowledge requests for comment for this story. Church officials instead pointed to a news release from the hospital chain....

Who wants to admit they sold their soul, especially to the Zionist MSM?


"Hope, hesitation over Caritas deal; Some see gain, others friction in for-profit plan" by Robert Weisman, Globe Staff | March 26, 2010

Employees, patients, and community leaders said yesterday they are wary but hopeful after learning that the Caritas Christi Health Care system has agreed to be acquired by a New York private equity firm, while state regulators said the complicated approval process will probably stretch into the fall.

Yeah, maybe the devil won't f*** us.

Members of labor unions representing nurses and service workers at the chain of Catholic community hospitals in Eastern Massachusetts said the $830 million cash infusion promised by Cerberus Capital Management could pay for needed repairs and other improvements....

Oh, Labor in his back pocket, are they?

But many said they were uneasy about the prospect of the hospitals being under the control of a firm that typically snaps up underperforming companies, improves their operations, and sells them at a big profit for investors....

But that is for your health, too!!!

David Schildmeier, spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents 1,712 registered nurses at Caritas hospitals, was more blunt. “The concern is that this firm is blatantly about making money for shareholders,’’ he said. “These hospitals, as Catholic facilities, have always been about serving the health care needs of low-income populations in their communities.’’


For members of one labor union, trepidation about being bought by a private equity firm was tempered by the security of a four-year contract they signed with Caritas officials late last year — a pact that will remain in effect under new ownership....

Hey, I got mine!

Under the deal, all six hospitals would remain open and follow the Catholic Church’s tenets, with current management based in Boston. In addition, Cerberus would keep all 12,000 Caritas employees and has agreed not to sell the hospitals or take them public for at least three years.

The deals needs approval from state regulators, as well as from Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Outside Carney Hospital in Dorchester yesterday, patient Peggy Anne Canty, a former Carney nurse, said she was perplexed by the choice of buyer. “The word on that sign out there says Caritas, and Caritas means charity,’’ she said. “But now they are going to be for profit. . . . How can you call a charity a for-profit?’’

Not only that, but the SYMBOL of CERBERUS!!!

The sale was also the subject of talk during a Boston College Chief Executives’ Club luncheon yesterday. Some in attendance cited the economic benefits promised by the Cerberus deal, ranging from money for renovations and other projects to tax revenue for the state and some communities if the hospitals are converted to for-profit businesses, as called for by the agreement between Cerberus and the Caritas governing board....

Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy said Cerberus and Caritas agreed to continue setting aside $66 million annually that the hospital system provides for charitable care, treating people without insurance; community benefits; and pastoral care, such as aiding earthquake victims in Haiti.

While the state’s Supreme Judicial Court will have final say on the transfer of Caritas to for-profit status, the attorney general’s office will review the Cerberus plan and make a recommendation to the court. The attorney general is required to hold a public hearing on the sale.

“We have several criteria we look at, including whether this will be in the best interest of the public,’’ Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “I anticipate it will take several months. It’s fairly complicated. There are a lot of individuals involved, even within the Caritas chain, and a lot of money involved.’’

Yeah, and I'll bet she KNOWS SOME of them!


Just call her CONFLICT-of-INTEREST Coakley!

"Caritas chief donated to Coakley; AG has critical role in sale of hospital chain" by Casey Ross, Globe Staff | March 27, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office will play a crucial role as the state reviews the proposed acquisition of Caritas Christi Health Care by a New York buyout firm, was the guest of honor last fall at a campaign fund-raiser hosted by Caritas’s chief executive at his Newton home.

Ralph de la Torre, other executives of Caritas Christi Health Care, and their relatives gave at least $34,300 to Coakley during her US Senate campaign last year. That is about double the amount contributed to her by people affiliated with other major health care companies, according to donation records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

De la Torre himself gave the maximum of two $2,400 contributions, as did his wife, Wing.

The $34,300 total probably understates the amount de la Torre and others connected to Caritas raised or donated to Coakley. For example, that sum doesn’t include donations from members of Caritas’s various hospital boards who used their employer names or another affiliation to identify themselves in campaign records, nor does it include those who attended the fund-raiser at de la Torre’s house who had no affiliation with Caritas.

Under state law, the attorney general is charged with reviewing Cerberus Capital Management’s proposal to buy the Caritas chain for an estimated $830 million and convert it to a for-profit company....

Some advocates who track the influence of money on politics said the donations by Caritas-affiliated individuals to Coakley only underscore the inherent conflicts in the political process, in which politicians often stand in judgment on issues that directly affect their donors.

“The lion’s share of donations are given by interests and people that want something in return,’’ said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “And that’s why the system needs to be fixed, because these kinds of contributions do give the appearance that there might be a bias involved.’’

While they did not call on Coakley to recuse herself from the Caritas matter, Wilmot and others called for a fully transparent review, urging the attorney general to carefully examine the financial interests involved in the matter.

“It is incumbent on her to widely consult people who have a variety of viewpoints on the nature and desirability of this transaction,’’ said Alan Sager, professor of health care policy and management at Boston University. “The fate of our hospitals can’t depend on the transient financial urges or spasms of one corporation. The health of our communities must come first.’’

After company profit$, of course.



De la Torre has worked to cut costs and boost revenue from patient care, but many Caritas facilities are aging and there has never been enough money to make all the improvements needed. The plan under Cerberus is to draw more patients to Caritas hospitals for such routine procedures as hip replacement and gall bladder surgeries. The chain now loses much of that business to more expensive Boston teaching hospitals....


And speak of the devil!

"Cerberus’s success hurt by a pair of gambles; N.Y. company respected in equity world" by Casey Ross, Globe Staff | March 25, 2010

Cerberus Capital  Management chairman John Snow (left) listened in May 2007 as  DaimlerChrysler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said the company would  hand control of the struggling automaker to Cerberus after a nine-year  investment in the company.
Cerberus Capital Management chairman John Snow (left) listened in May 2007 as DaimlerChrysler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said the company would hand control of the struggling automaker to Cerberus after a nine-year investment in the company. (Thorsten Jochim/Bloomberg News/File 2007)

Secretive even by the standards of the hushed world of private equity, Cerberus Capital Management is perhaps best known for two big gambles that went spectacularly wrong: Its acquisitions of Chrysler Corp. and GMAC, both of which ultimately required huge government bailouts and lost billions for Cerberus and its partners.

Don't worry, Caritas; you see what will happen if they tank.

Until those deals, the Wall Street firm had a string of successful acquisitions that earned it accolades in the private equity world, where taking calculated risks on struggling companies can be rewarded with huge payouts when the business goes right.

That's what they are looking for after Obama's health bill.

Not so with Chrysler and GMAC. Because of the overwhelming troubles hammering the American auto and credit sectors, the two companies’ financial conditions only worsened despite Cerberus’s efforts to fix them. Combined, Chrysler and GMAC needed $22.6 billion in government aid to stay alive, and Cerberus’s reputation suffered as a result.

Now Cerberus — which takes its name from the mythical three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell — is trying another high-wire act. It will bring its highly sophisticated financial management to a cash-starved hospital chain, one that had been a nonprofit with a history of providing charitable care to the poor.

And we know how much the devil loves the poor seeing as there are so many of them.

Executives with both New York City-based Cerberus and Caritas Christi Health Care recognize the potential tensions in the arrangement, but took pains to stress that Cerberus sees itself as a long-term steward of the business and will not interfere with the hospital chain’s Catholic mission or day-to-day operations.

“We have no incentive to do a quick flip,’’ said Cerberus managing director Timothy F. Price. “What we want to do is make it successful, keep it successful, and hold it. We’ve been holding many of our companies five years or longer.’’

Since Cerberus was founded with about $10 million in seed money in 1992, the firm has acquired companies in a variety of sectors, including software firms, car rental companies, and the Hollywood movie production studio Spyglass Entertainment. It now has more than 40 companies in its investment portfolio and about $23 billion under management.

Chief executive Steve Feinberg is known for being among the country’s most powerful — and secretive — financiers, rarely speaking to the media or making public appearances. Among Cerberus’s more visible faces are its chairman, John W. Snow, a Treasury secretary in the George W. Bush administration; and Dan Quayle, the former vice president who occasionally gives public talks about the firm’s investments.

The purchase of Caritas is the firm’s first major foray into the medical care world, coming as the industry prepares for the implementation of the sweeping health care overhaul signed by President Obama this week.

Most of Cerberus’s investments have been successful. It typically buys distressed companies, tries to fix their finances or streamline operations, and profits by selling off all or part of the companies, and reaping fees for its management along the way. One recent success was Talecris Biotherapeutics Holdings Corp., a North Carolina biotechnology interest that it bought in 2005 for about $90 million and took public last year. The company is now valued at $2.5 billion and reported revenues of $1.53 billion in 2009.

“We’ve fixed a lot more companies than we’ve failed at, or today we wouldn’t have grown to be managing $23 billion,’’ Price said. “Some mixture of hits and misses are inevitable in our business.’’

But Cerberus also had failures and controversies.

Creditors of the bankrupt California department store chain Mervyn’s sued Cerberus and two other private equity firms, accusing them of fraud when the three bought the company from Target Corp. in 2004. The lawsuit alleges that Sun Capital Partners, Cerberus, and another firm borrowed against the store’s real estate assets to purchase the company, but made Mervyn’s repay the debt by charging the stores “substantially greater’’ rents to occupy properties that it just days before owned.

Mervyn’s creditors said the additional costs were $80 million and contributed to the company’s bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the department store claimed the private equity firms paid themselves $58 million in fees from proceeds of the purchase, and $400 million in payments or distributions since then.

Price said the Mervyn’s lawsuit is without merit and the company “vehemently’’ denies the creditors’ allegations. The case is ongoing in federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Then there are the GMAC and Chrysler investments. Cerberus still owns roughly a 15 percent stake in GMAC, but forfeited its $1 billion plus equity investment in Chrysler when the company declared bankruptcy a year ago.

Some auto industry analysts said Cerberus executives got so caught up in being owners of one of America’s top automakers that it clouded their business judgment.

“I think it was ego,’’ said Craig Carlson, a Boston automotive industry analyst. “They thought they could own one of the Big Three automakers, which is pretty cool. They thought they were smart enough that they could turn it around and make it successful. They underestimated a lot of stuff.’’

That is not a good sign for Caritas.

And I am not buying the ruthlessly evil looters were too naive bit.

Cerberus asserts that Chrysler would have been much worse off had it not stepped in in 2007. The firm initiated job cuts and plant closings that made Chrysler much leaner.

You know what is coming then.

But when larger issues plaguing the auto industry swamped its company, Cerberus said it had voluntarily offered to give up its Chrysler stake and helped steer the carmaker into a soft bankruptcy landing, rather than an outright liquidation. Indeed, Obama singled out the chief executive Cerberus appointed at Chrysler for getting deals with Fiat and auto worker unions that are the basis for the company’s restructuring.

“Chrysler was a victim of the same worldwide financial meltdown especially targeted at real estate and automotive companies,’’ said Price, the Cerberus managing director. “I think by our actions and by the way we handled it, we kept more jobs and did more for Chrysler.’’

You mean the ones you creeps engineered?


What do you mean they don't know what they are doing?

"Equity firm in Caritas buyout lacks medical field experience" by Erin Ailworth, Globe Staff | March 26, 2010

When a private equity firm sought to buy three hospitals in Massachusetts in late 2004, state officials and community leaders examined its reputation for keeping hospitals open and providing patients with quality care.

The buyer was Vanguard Health Systems, owned by the private equity firm Blackstone Group. Massachusetts officials approved its purchase of MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham and of Saint Vincent in Worcester, in part, because of its track record running institutions around the country.

But Cerberus Capital Management, the New York buyout firm that wants to turn Caritas Christi Health Care into a for-profit company, has no experience in running large medical systems.

Don't need any when you are going to be cutting it up and selling it off in three years.

That will make it more difficult for the state officials who, under Massachusetts law, must review Cerberus’s request to convert Caritas....

For Stephen Rosenfeld, senior legal adviser for the health care advocacy group Community Catalyst, the prospect of Cerberus owning Caritas “just frightens the heck out of me.’’

Because of what a Cerberus is?

Though a highly successful investment firm, Cerberus is best known to the public for a spectacular failure: being unable to keep the ailing car maker Chrysler out of bankruptcy....

This will be the first for-profit hospital conversion for Attorney General Martha Coakley, who said little yesterday about her upcoming review, except that “It will take several months. It’s fairly complicated.’’

Especially when you have CAMPAIGN CONNECTIONS to it all!!!

Former Attorney General Thomas Reilly offered a warning, of sorts, about what happens once a nonprofit converts.

“The public should be mindful that other for-profit operators have bought and sold community hospitals,’’ his office wrote, “sometimes at a quick pace and sometimes to the dismay and disruption of the communities.’’

Yeah, they got three years.



Globe Editorial
Caritas sale is a net plus — if buyer lives up to obligations

Also see
: In blog, O'Malley backs sale

Well, that's it then; the Boston Diocese is now officially an apostate of Hell.