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HCA Adds Notch in FL Belt

HCA Healthcare, already Florida's largest for-profit chain, will become still larger with the pending purchase of Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness.

The hospital board on Wednesday announced that it voted to proceed with the sale at a price of $127.5 million. The announcement comes nearly a year after the financially troubled facility owned by Citrus County took bids from potential buyers, or hospitals wanting to merge. 

HCA, based in Nashville, will lease the 198-bed publicly owned hospital during final proceedings. HCA lists 86 Florida facilities -- outpatient surgery centers as well as hospitals -- at its website.

In other business news:

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona, has formed a commercial partnership with a Japanese pharmaceutical company, DaiichiSankyo Co., the Orlando Sentinel reported this week.  A three-year arrangement, the partnership will pursue research on prevention of "metabolic syndrome," the underlying condition that leads to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other major killers. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

In Tampa, the former WellCare CEO and other executives who were sentenced to prison this week will not have to pay restitution to their former company, theTampa Bay Timesreports.

WellCare Health Plans Inc.  had asked that Todd Farha, Paul Behrens and others convicted last year in a massive Medicaid fraud scheme to be forced to pay the company $365 million, including the $134 million in compensation they received while working there.

But U.S. District Judge James Moody said that in such a situation the company could not be construed as a victim.  For more details on the sentencing, see"Ex-WellCare CEO Farha Gets a Break."

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.