Sunday, April 30, 2017

Why Do We Strive For The Heavens?

By Michael Hooper

Throughout history, we can find countless examples of human beings trying to reach for the heavens. We hike up a hill to get a better view, or we climb a mountain because it’s there. We build a rocket and fly to the moon. NASA has remote control vehicles on Mars looking for places to probe and dig for samples of dust and rock. We have developed listening stations that capture sounds from deep space. We use high powered telescopes to search for life on other planets. Scientists recently discovered seven planets around a white dwarf 40 light years away, these planets may contain water and life forms.


The Telegraph

The higher we climb, the harder we fall. Yet we climb anyway.

For years a friend of mine and I wanted to ride bicycles to the top of a hill in northeast Kansas -- the site is a burial ground that dates back over 4,000 years, maybe longer.

It was 80 degrees on a rare February day, Brian Carr and I decided it was time, we got on our bicycles and started riding up and around the hills, climbing higher and higher. We entered a grassy field, and continued to pedal up along an old pioneer’s path, until we finally reached the summit. It was here we looked for a 4,000-year-old Indian burial ground, we could not find it. The abundant tall grass prairie had hidden the sacred site.

We laid down in the grass and looked at the sun. The tall grass prairie made a good bed, deer had rested here. The sky was light blue with sun dogs, dripping with shafts of purple rays. We could see all around us, the four corners of the Earth. An eagle, the guardian of the day, flew over us and hovered for a bit, letting us know he sees us. Below us in the valley, the Kansas River moves eastward along its slow glide to the Missouri River. A Union Pacific train engine, bright yellow with an American flag, pulls grain cars to the west. And to our view to the south, we could see the interstate with hundreds of cars and trucks traveling east or west. 

About 20,000 feet above us, I see multiple passenger jets flying to Denver or Kansas City or Minneapolis or Dallas, maybe Los Angeles. Literally thousands of people inside the planes and automobiles, passing overhead and below us -- all at the same time -- a sea of humanity moving. Here I connect to all the living peoples on Earth and to the people in the sky and the aliens living on those distant planets 40 light years away; they are with me here now in my mind, and someone is there now also thinking the same thing, looking at Earth from 40 light years away, thinking, you know, there is someone over there on that planet who thinks about these things and is now with us in the same thought.

This place was like a vortex to the universe.

After an hour lying in the sun, we decided to look for the burial ground. I glanced behind us and there it was, we were lying next to it all along. The place found us, she drew us in and she treated us with majesty and grace. Growing among its circle of stones was a thorny low lying bush, we stood outside the circle. Its stones looked worn from rain and winds of time. The stones carried the memories of the Indians who placed them here and returned here to remember their ancestors. The tribes of old probably liked this spot, I imagine they too felt its powerful vortex to all things in the universe.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stormont-Vail Healthcare Earns Profit of $38.8 million

Stormont-Vail Healthcare has made profits in each of the last four years, while St. Francis Health Center has been struggling.

In 2015, Stormont-Vail Healthcare showed a net gain of $38.8 million on $591.5 million in revenue and $552.6 million in expenses, according to its 2015 Form 990 tax return. Stomont-Vail’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015.

Stormont-Vail's gain or profit in the 2014 fiscal year was $34.7 million on $550.3 million revenue and $515.6 million expenses.

Stormont-Vail is a 586-bed acute care referral center in northeast Kansas, with about 4,400 employees, according to its Web site.

Stormont-Vail's total assets increased in 2015 to $664.2 million from $640 million the previous year. A negative trend is the increase in liabilities to $366.7 million from $332.8 million in the previous year.

Stormont-Vail’s 2012 tax return showed a profit of $20.7 million on $517.1 million in revenue and $496.3 expenses. And the 2011 tax return showed a profit of $50.4 million on $576.4 million revenue and $526 million in expenses.

Tax returns in the past few years have shown some losses at St. Francis Health Center. St. Francis suffered a $12.4 million loss in 2015, a $6.1 million loss in 2014 and a $1.46 million loss in 2013.

SCL Health says St. Francis has lost $117 million over the last five years. Brian Newsome of SCL Health says, St. Francis Health Center had a negative cash balance of $51.6 million as of March 31, 2017.

SCL Health is trying to sell St. Francis or close it by this summer. Stormont-Vail has said it is considering acquiring St. Francis. Prime Healthcare is also interested in the hospital, according to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Earlier this year, Brownback vetoed Medicaid expansion in Kansas.

On April 18, SCL Health issued a press release, saying it is looking for a new owner for St. Francis. Multiple options were considered over the last two years to avoid closing the hospital and are still being explored now. The system is eager to discuss any alternatives that can be accomplished swiftly and is willing to donate St. Francis to another organization that can take over operations. With or without another operator, however, SCL Health will cease operating the hospital this summer. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

My Billing Nightmare With SCL Health

By Michael Hooper

In August 2013, my daughter went to the emergency room at St. Francis Health Center with terrible pains in her lower back. She was in the waiting room at the ER with some friends from high school when I arrived. When doctors finally examined my daughter, they discovered she was moving a kidney stone, this was causing all of her pain. 

About three hours after arriving, my daughter and I were sent home. Medical staff gave us the name of a St. Francis doctor who could treat her kidney stone issue. She was treated very well. Her doctor advised her to drink gallons of lemonade and water. She moved the kidney stone and never had another kidney stone moving through her since then. 

My insurance deductible was $6,000 per person. I received a bill for $4,248 from SCL Health.  I complained to SCL Health that I was overcharged $2,275 for a CT scan that was not needed. But SCL officials refused to change the bill. I talked to a patient representative. Then a director examined my daughter’s case file and wrote a letter to me saying he had reviewed the care given to my daughter and agreed we were overcharged. “We understand your concerns and will make an adjustment on your account of removing $2,275.48 for the CT scan," he wrote.

Wonderful. So then I sent a copy of his letter to SCL Health, asking them to lower my bill. You need to remove $2,275 from my bill, but the person I talked to said she was not authorized to remove that charge. Why not, I have proof that I was overcharged. I said if you don’t lower my bill I am going to the Kansas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division with a complaint. She still refused. I wrote a letter to the AG, which wrote a letter to SCL Health asking for an explanation. Suddenly, SCL Health officials called me and got very cooperative and apologetic and lowered my bill.

But that is not the end of the story. I had agreed from the very beginning of the process to send $200 per month to SCL Health until my bill was paid off. SCL Health cashed one of my $200 checks but did not credit my account. Then I received a delinquent notice from SCL Health saying I missed a payment. The letter said, “If your account is not brought current by your next payment due date, the payment plan may be deactivated and your account is at risk of placement with a collection agency.”

So I called SCL Health to get this straightened out. I said I had actually sent a check, SCL Health cashed it but did not credit my account. An SCL Health official said I must prove I made payment by getting a bank statement or cancelled check. You mean, I am responsible for correcting your mistake? Yes, she said. So I went to the bank and gathered up evidence showing SCL Health took $200 from my account. This actually happened a second time while I was trying to pay off the debt.

In the end, I paid off the bill. The St. Francis medical professionals who treated my daughter did a fabulous job. But without the Kansas Attorney General, I would have been screwed by SCL Health. I finally wrote a letter to the AG thanking them for being there, and that the problem was resolved.

During this entire time, I was lucky to be self-employed with flexible hours so I could devote many hours per day to solving this financial crisis with my daughter’s stay in the Emergency Room at St. Francis. Just imagine, though, a person going through this process without the knowledge of the Consumer Protection Act and The Kansas Attorney General?

I’ve heard from several employees of St. Francis saying the billing problems with SCL Health in Denver continue. One person said his wife had a baby but didn’t get a bill for the medical services for four months. If bills go out too late, payments are delayed and this hurts cash-flow. The faster bills go out, the sooner you get money in the bank.

St. Francis paid $42.7 million in System Allocation expense to SCL Health in 2015. From 2013 to 2015, St. Francis paid a total of $102 million for services like billing and payroll and IT. That seems like an awful lot of money being paid to SCL Health for sub par services.




Friday, April 21, 2017

St. Francis Pays $102 Million to SCL Health

Tax returns show St. Francis Health Center paid $102 million to SCL Health for services such as billing and payroll from 2013 to 2015.

The 2015 Form 990 tax return for St. Francis Health Center shows $42.7 million expense for “System Allocation” to SCL Health.


Line 24b shows $42.7 million for System Allocation.



The 2014 Form 990 tax return shows $33.6 million to System Allocation to SCL Health.

The 2013 tax return shows $26 million for System Office Management Fees. There is no such expense in the 2012 tax return.

If you add up three years of System Allocation expenses, you come up with $102 million sent by St. Francis to SCL Health.

Brian Newsome, spokesman for SCL Health, said system allocation is the budgetary way SCL Health accounts for the services to the hospitals that they don't provide independently on their own, ranging from human resources to IT to payroll and billing, compliance, quality and marketing.

“I want to emphasize again what I shared yesterday that St. Francis dollars are being ‘taken’ from Kansas and used elsewhere is simply not true,” Newsome said. “I think part of the confusion is that people seem to think that these are separate entities and operations.”

A St. Francis Health Center employee said St. Francis used to handle all of its own billing, IT, payroll but several years ago, those operations were moved to Denver. The employee said $42.7 million for those services from SCL Health seems very high.

The 2015 tax return shows a $12 million loss.

If $42 million for system allocation were cut in half, St. Francis would have posted a profit in 2015, the employee said.

David Tangeman, accountant, says some employees were let go in Topeka and the positions were moved to Denver. But $42.7 million for services like billing and payroll seems high.

$42.7 million out of $278 million in revenue in 2015 is 15% of revenue. If someone takes 15% right off the top of a business, that business would be lucky to survive. Health care is not a high margin business.

Think about this. You could hire 200 people at $50,000 gross expense per employee for $10 million annual payroll. Yet St. Francis has been paying up to $42.7 million annually for these office functions?

The $42.7 million for System Allocation Does Not include wages and salaries for employees in Topeka. That's right there is a separate line item for wages on the expenses sheet in the Form 990. In 2015, St. Francis paid $2.9 million to officers, directors, trustees and key employees. Another $95.5 million was spent on other salaries and wages for a total of $98.4 million.

If System Allocation expenses were $42.7 million again in 2016 and again 2017, that would mean St. Francis has paid or owes $187 million in five years to SCL Health.

That is how it appears SCL Health bled St. Francis.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

SCL Health: St. Francis Has Negative Cash Balance

An official with SCL Health says St. Francis Health Center had a negative cash balance of $51.6 million as of March 31, 2017.
What happened to the $289 million in investments reported at the beginning of the year on the 2013 tax return? I asked. Later reported as $248 million in intercompany receivables on the 2015 tax return?
“There is not like a big cash reserve,” said Brian Newsome, spokesman for SCL Health. “What you saw has been used to keep the hospital going. It didn’t leave the market.”
Newsome said a change on the balance sheet for the reporting of investments in the 2013 Form 990 was not a material change to the organization. Reporting on the tax return changed that year to be consistent with health care reporting standards, he said. Nothing material changed.
Newsome said any implication that money was taken from St. Francis and transferred to the parent company is not true. He said assets did not leave the Kansas market. Some of the hospital’s reserves were used to keep the hospital going, cover losses and expenditures on electronic medical records, pensions and debt.
 “We’ve paid off debt associated with the hospital,” he said. That is not reflected in the 2015 tax return. He said St. Francis has lost $117 million over the last five years.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

KCC Rejects Sale Of Westar Energy To Great Plains Energy

The Kansas Corporation Commission today issued an order rejecting the sale of Westar Energy to Great Plains Energy, citing a failure to meet its merger standards.

"The Joint Application is denied," The 51-page order says. "The Commission finds the proposed transaction is not in the public interest and rejects Great Plains' application to acquire Westar. Both Parties have 15 days from the date of electronic service of this Order to petition for reconsideration."

The order also said, "Great Plains Energy does not dispute that they will incur a large amount of debt to acquire Westar. Nor does it dispute it has no written plan to de-leverage. The Joint Application is deficient. It does not include plans showing which generation plants will be retired early. There are no examples of reduced spending through procurement savings and no evidence that customers will see any savings. The Joint Application simply does not give the Commission any assurances that it will be able to service the newly-incurred debt without raising rates or reducing services. Therefore, the Commission has no choice but to find the proposed transaction is not in the public interest. Accordingly, the Commission denies GPE's application to acquire Westar."

The order also says, "While the Joint Applicants argue "the repetition of the same arguments by multiple parties does not make them deserving of more weight, true, reasonable, or supportive of the public interest," the Commission cannot ignore the substantial, competent evidence in opposition to the proposed transaction. As the Joint Applicants admit, of the 28 parties to the Docket, only the Joint Applicants are in favor of the merger. All of the other parties are aligned in opposition to the merger. The Joint Applicants try to discredit the opposition by claiming "most of the intervenors in this case intervened to pursue private individual interests" rather than representing the public interest the Commission is charged to protect. But the Joint Applicants are also pursuing their own interests in advocating for the transaction. As Westar's CEO Mark Ruelle testified, "[i]dentifying risk is not the stopping point for an analysis; it's the starting point for an analysis." The threshold question facing the Commission is how much financial risk can be accepted before the proposed transaction does not serve the public interest. In its detailed review of an extensive record, the Commission found the proposed transaction to be too risky. GPE's market capitalization is only $4.8 billion, yet it proposes to pay Westar a $4.9 billion acquisition premium. The size of the acquisition premium calls into question GPE's ability to service the transaction-incurred debt."



SCL Health Reclassified $289 Million In Investments From St. Francis Health Center

By Michael Hooper

Tax returns show SCL Health reclassified $289 million in investments on the balance sheet of St. Francis Health Center in 2013. SCL Health reclassified the investments as "other assets” or “intercompany receivables”  in subsequent tax returns for St. Francis.

If you look at the 2013 St. Francis Health Center tax return Form 990, it says there was $289 million in investments at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year, the investment total was $9.1 million, with the bulk of the assets -- $266 million -- transferred to “other assets.”




The 2015 Form 990, the latest available tax return for St. Francis Health Center, lists $248 million as “intercompany receivables.”

Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement he would launch an inquiry aimed at ensuring charitable assets of St. Francis remained in Kansas.

The statement from Schmidt said, "The hospital’s parent company maintains over $2 billion dollars in assets, yet is seeking to “divest” St. Francis, possibly leading to its closure. The Kansas roots of St. Francis trace back to 1858 and the founding of Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth which remains organized as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Kansas. The actions by Governor Brownback and Attorney General Schmidt seek to protect Kansas-based charitable assets from being improperly transferred from the state leading to the closure of St. Francis.

“St. Francis has benefitted from its status as a Kansas charity for many years, and it is important to make certain that such charitable assets are properly managed and remain in Kansas,” said Governor Brownback.  “The charitable assets should stay here for the benefit of Kansans, to serve their stated mission of improving the health of those who are poor and vulnerable. Northeast Kansas needs the medical services St. Francis provides.”

The office of the Attorney General has the authority to safeguard Kansas charities.

“Any decision by its out-of-state owners that would fail to maintain full operations of Saint Francis Hospital would be deeply troubling,” Schmidt said. “The absence of meaningful consultation with local leaders compounds the concern, particularly in light of the considerable benefits the people of Kansas have bestowed on this charitable operation over the years.”

Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast emphasized the importance of St. Francis to the health and economy of Topeka and surrounding communities.

“I share Governor Brownback and the Attorney General’s deep concern that the charitable assets of St. Francis Hospital, a hospital that met the health care needs of our community for so long, will be improperly removed from the people it serves,” Wolgast said. “I welcome the action the Attorney General is taking. St. Francis has been a vital part of this city and northeast Kansas for 159 years and has benefitted by the non-profit status the citizens of Kansas granted."

I believe SCL Health does not really own St. Francis, SCL Health only controls it. St. Francis Health Center is a nonprofit corporation without stock holders. An argument can be made that the owner is the state of Kansas.


SCL Health plans to sell/give away St. Francis Health Center by summer or risk closing the hospital. Stormont-Vail Health is looking at acquiring St. Francis, the newspaper reported.

SCL Health says, “St. Francis has struggled financially, losing $117 million over the last five years. Physician clinics lost $31 million in 2016 alone. All of this has come as the number of patients has dramatically decreased. Additionally without expanded Medicaid coverage and other challenges related to public programs, St. Francis experienced added pressure. Uncompensated and charity care more than doubled from 2012 to 2016.”

David Tangeman, an accountant, recently reviewed the 2015 Form 990 Tax Return. 

“In reviewing the 2015 St Francis tax returns it shows a $12.5 million loss,” he said.  “The buildings, land and equipment are carried on the books at $67.7 million after depreciation is deducted. Total assets are carried at $368.3 million in assets less $19.2 million in liabilities.”

“It is worth noting that $248 million of assets is listed as “Intercompany receivables. About $21 million is supposed to be bad debt or accounts receivable that is likely to be unrecovered. Still the Equity is $349 million so if you take that out you still have $328 million at the end of 2015," Tangeman said.

If you include all those assets, the picture does not look so dire. 

“This hardly seems like a entity that would go out of business on the face of it, but losing $12.5 million a year isn't sustainable either over the long term.” Tangeman said.

Tangeman wonders if the $289 million in investments was the charitable assets that transferred to the parent company?

Tangeman said the $248 million in intercompany receivables should be paid back to the hospital, it belongs to St. Francis Health Center.

The hospital and its staff were able to generate a modest profit over time and invest proceeds wisely and grow them into a quarter billion dollars. For many years, the hospital had a very strong balance sheet, with around $200 million investments in 2006. By 2013, those investments had grown to $289 million.

Brian Newsome, of SCL Health, said he would prepare a response to a list of questions that I gave him regarding the charitable assets of St. Francis Health Center. Several hours later this is what he had to say, "I connected with our finance folks this a.m., and I am now waiting for them to get out of a meeting this afternoon to confirm that what I’m pulling together for you is accurate. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know sooner rather than later that what you’ve reported thus far does not appear to be accurate. I’ll work on getting you correct info as soon as possible."


Newsome of SCL Health says St. Francis Health Center had a negative cash balance of $51.6 million as of March 31, 2017.

What happened to the $289 million in investments reported at the beginning of the year on the 2013 tax return? I asked. Later reported as $248 million in intercompany receivables on the 2015 tax return?

“There is not like a big cash reserve,” said Newsome, spokesman for SCL Health. “What you saw has been used to keep the hospital going. It didn’t leave the market.”

Newsome said a change on the balance sheet for the reporting of investments in the 2013 Form 990 was not a material change to the organization. Reporting on the tax return changed that year to be consistent with health care reporting standards, he said. Nothing material changed.

Newsome said any implication that money was taken from St. Francis and transferred to the parent company is not true. He said assets did not leave the Kansas market. Some of the hospital’s reserves were used to keep the hospital going, cover losses and expenditures on electronic medical records, pensions and debt.

 “We’ve paid off debt associated with the hospital,” he said. That is not reflected in the 2015 tax return. He said St. Francis has lost $117 million over the last five years.





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gov. Brownback Says St. Francis Health Center Not Closing Today

“Yesterday, I had a meeting with Mike Slubowski, the CEO of SCL Health, about the status of St. Francis Hospital. He committed to me that they would not announce a closure of St. Francis on Tuesday, and that they would work with us to find a solution that keeps St. Francis open.
“I intend to hold Mr. Slubowski to his commitment and anticipate further negotiations in the coming days and weeks. As I have said previously, St. Francis is an important local and regional health care provider, and a significant Kansas charitable asset that has long served its stated mission of improving the health of those who are poor and vulnerable.”

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hundreds Rally For St. Francis Health Center

More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil tonight, April 17, 2017, in support of St. Francis Health Center. Many employes of the hospital in Topeka held candles and sang Amazing Grace and walked around the hospital.



About 1,600 work for St. Francis. There are rumors circulating that SCL Health is considering closing the hospital.

Michael Hooper said St. Francis is not a failure but has successfully served the community for over 100 years. The hospital lost $12 million in 2015 but is still strong financially with over $248 million in reserves, according to the 2015 Form 990 Tax Return for St. Francis.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

St. Francis Had $248 Million In Reserves, Able To Overcome Losses

By Michael Hooper

Rumors are circulating St. Francis Health Center in Topeka, Kan., may announce on Tuesday plans to close the hospital, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.



SCL Health, of Broomfield, Colo., formerly known as the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, had previously announced plans to sell St. Francis Health Center.

The 2015 public tax return for St. Francis Health Center shows $278.5 million revenue and $291 million in expenses and an operating loss of $12.4 million. The organization received $14 million in investment income in 2015 compared to $20.7 million in the prior year.

Tax records show St. Francis Health Center is still strong financially -- able to withstand some losses. The organization has over $248 million in “inter-company” receivables, according to the 2015 Form 990 Tax Return Schedule D Part IX Other Assets.

Total assets of St. Francis were listed as $368 million at year end 2015, down 3.4% from $381.4 million in the prior year.

When Sister Loretto Marie Colwell was CEO of St. Francis, the organization was thriving. Much of the assets on the books today are the result of frugal savings efforts by Sister Colwell and staff during her 14 years there through 2006.

I wrote an article about St. Francis and Sister Colwell.

During Sister Colwell's leadership at St. Francis Health Center, the hospital healed the sick, gave to charity, invested in technology and improved the culture of the hospital -- all while improving its financial health.

Dr. Nason Lui, former president of the medical staff at St. Francis, said, "She didn't turn anybody down, and she was still able to keep the hospital financially stable, profitable and viable."

In the early 2000s, the hospital was doing great. St. Francis generated a total of $182 million in revenue from June 1, 2003, to May 31, 2004, and had $153 million in expenses -- with $29 million leftover for a margin of 16 percent. Its cash and investments grew 8.6 percent to $213.3 million by May 31, 2004, compared with $196.4 million on June 1, 2003.

Post Colwell

It seems St. Francis lost its way when SCL Health hired a new CEO and bought 132 acres of the former Menninger campus, with plans to build a new hospital there. But SCL Health shut down those plans, replaced the CEO and sold 13 acres to the the Sunflower Foundation.

Current leadership at St. Francis is 

 David Setchel – President
 Essence Montgomery - Vice President, Finance
 Erik Olson - Vice President, Medical Group
 Jenna Speckart - Vice President, Mission Integration
 Lisa Alexander, RN - Chief Nursing Officer
 Jacquelyn Hyland, MD - Chief Medical Officer
 Nikki Sloup - Director, Marketing and Communications

Tax returns in the past few years have shown some losses. St. Francis suffered a $12.4 million loss in 2015, a $6.1 million loss in 2014 and a $1.46 million loss in 2013.

Gov. Sam Brownback's recent veto of the expansion of Medicaid did not help the situation any. Hospitals suffer losses when treating people without insurance. Many of these patients cannot afford health insurance and cannot afford hospital stays, which costs thousands of dollars per day.


Who owns the $248 million in reserves?
If SCL Health closes the hospital, I believe the hospital's assets, including the $248 million in reserves, belong to Topeka, Kansas. Those monies were made here and invested under shrewd leadership and grew to a large amount of money. The Kansas Attorney General may be able to file a lawsuit to retain those assets in Kansas. SCL Health may want to take those investments and use them for other purposes, but I believe they belong with the hospital. The hospital and its staff were able to generate a modest profit over time and invest proceeds wisely and grow them into a quarter billion dollars.

SCL Health used to be located in Lenexa. Several years ago, SCL Health hired a new CEO, Michael Slubowski, who moved the headquarters from Lenexa to Denver and started expanding and spending money on Denver area locations including over $600 million on the main Denver hospital rebuilding it.

SCL Health sold two of its Kansas-based hospitals — Providence Medical Center in Kansas City and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth — to for-profit operator Prime Healthcare Services.

Michael Slubowski recently announced plans to resign as president and chief executive of SCL Health to become president and chief operating officer of Trinity Health in Novi, Mich., a health system he worked for from 1997 to 2010.
Slubowski joined SCL Health in January 2011 and oversaw the relocation of its system services operations from Lenexa, Kan., to Denver and later to Broomfield, Colo.

A modest proposal
There should be a way to make St. Francis break-even. With $278 million in revenue, and $291 million in expenses, the leadership should be able to cut expenses somehow by $20 million and break even or make a slight profit. Don’t shut down a good hospital. If you close all the doors now, then it will be very hard to re-start, to re-open.

Let’s find a way to save St. Francis. Close down unprofitable ventures. Find core profit centers in your operation and build from there a sustainable health care concern. There is certainly enough capital within the hospital’s reserves to keep this organization going, especially if the hospital cuts $20 million in operating expenses.

SCL Health should consider giving St. Francis to the City of Topeka, along with the hospital's $248 million in reserves. This way the organization would have sufficient reserves to keep the organization going. Let St. Francis Health Center continue to heal the sick and bring people back to good health. The medical staff save people every day. Find a way to keep this mission alive.



Friday, April 7, 2017

Why Payless ShoeSource Is Bankrupt: A Leveraged Buyout Disaster

Payless ShoeSource and two related Hong Kong-based logistics businesses recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Payless says it is using Chapter 11 bankruptcy court to reorganize the business, to strengthen its balance sheet and position the company for long-term success. Payless plans to close 400-500 stores. The company has about $838 million in debt, plus $250 million outstanding accounts payable, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

We all know traditional brick and mortar retailers are struggling, but also contributing to the company's financial demise is  Payless owners Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital Partners. They have bled the company of its cash and loaded up the balance sheet with debt. Since the company’s leveraged buyout in 2012, Payless' owners have taken out nearly $350 million in debt-funded dividends, according to Moody’s reports. Shortly before declaring bankruptcy, Moody’s downgraded Payless’ debt to Caa2 junk status, with a negative outlook.

Also constraining the rating is the company's history of highly-aggressive financial policies that includes nearly $350 million of debt-funded dividends since the company's 2012 leveraged buy-out,” Moody’s wrote on Feb. 2, 2017.

In 2012, an investor group, including Golden Gate Capital, Blum Capital Partners and Wolverine Worldwide, acquired Collective Brands in a $1.32 billion buyout, with Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital Partners taking control of Payless, and the remaining footwear brands going to Wolverine.

Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital took out $350 million in cash from Payless and loaded the company with debt at a time when retail was struggling from huge online competition.

Leveraged buyouts can be disastrous for companies because they can’t afford to pay all the bills plus additional interest expense on debt, when sales are declining.

A huge problem facing retailers today is customers who go into the stores, try on shoes, then walk out and buy the shoes online from a competitor. This happened to Best Buy until it offered price matching.

Brick & mortar retailers must find creative ways to compete, price matching is probably one solution. It may come to a point where retailers will have to charge a fee if someone is trying on clothes or shoes without buying any merchandise from the store.





Union Pacific Will Beat EPS Estimates in Q1

Union Pacific Will Beat EPS Estimates In Q1


Summary

Growth in the shipment of coal, metals and grain will help Union Pacific post earnings of $1.30 per share, beating consensus estimate of $1.24 per share.
Union Pacific’s total freight shipments increased 2% to 2.1 million carloads/intermodal units through Week 13.
Grain volumes are up 20% at Union Pacific through YTD through Week 13.
Growth in the shipment of coal, metals and grain will help Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) post earnings of $1.30 per share in first quarter 2017 -- a 12% increase over Q1 EPS 2016.