60 MINUTES REPORT ON COLUMBIA TO ARRIVE IN LESS THAN 60 DAYS


A long-delayed "60 Minutes" report on Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. likely will air in the next few weeks, but it isn't the only journalistic probe of the healthcare giant in the works. The New York Times has had a reporter working full time on a Columbia story for months. That story is expected to delve into the Nashville, Tenn.-based chain's rapid growth, its aggressive business practices, its campaign against tax-exempt organizations and its physician investment strategy. The "60 Minutes" report will focus on Columbia's proposed acquisition of Cleveland-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio. Reporter Mike Wallace grilled Blues' spokesman William Silverman about whether the insurer's top three executives have a conflict of interest because they stand to pocket $19 million in payouts. Silverman wrote about his Wallace interview (he spent part of it wondering whether Wallace was wearing a hairpiece) in a commentary in the Cleveland Plain Dealer headlined "Bushwhacked by "60 Minutes". Reports of the New York Times story and the "60 Minutes" show caused Columbia's stock price to rise slower than the market average during a sustained rally last week, the Wall Street Journal reported. (1-800/Columbia)

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