Loss of business, a small revenue base and lots of debt were among the reasons Jennie Stuart Medical Center‘s rating dropped from BBB+ to BBB, Tabor reports. Fitch Ratings, one of the global agencies whose ratings guide investors, said uncertainty about the expansion of Kentucky’s Medicaid system and how federal health reform will affect the hospital’s finances were other reasons for the downgrade. The hospital has lost money in two of the last four years. Last year, it had a 1.9 percent loss.
Tabor explains there are eight ratings above the BBB level. If the facility’s rating “were to slip two levels lower, to BB+, it would be on the level of ‘junk bonds,’ no longer considered investment grade,” he reports.
There are three major rating companies in the U.S.: Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. Moody’s expects downgrades of nonprofit hospitals to outnumber upgrades by the end of 2012, reports Jeffrey Young for The Huffington Post. Fitch expects the same will happen, said Senior Director Emily Wong. Smaller hospitals will especially feel the pinch since they “don’t have as much ability to offset expense, inflation or reimbursement reductions,” Wong said.
Since October 2011, Fitch has reviewed seven nonprofit hospitals in Kentucky. Five were affirmed, one was upgraded and Jennie Stuart was the lone downgrade. The other facilities reviewed were:
• Norton Healthcare, Louisville: affirmed at A-