HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA) CEO Sam Hazen on Q1 2022 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

HCA Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:HCA) Q1 2022 Results Conference Call April 22, 2022 10:00 AM ET

Company Participants

Sam Hazen – Chief Executive Officer

Bill Rutherford – Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Frank Morgan – VP, Investor Relations

Conference Call Participants

A.J. Rice – Credit Suisse

Pito Chickering – Deutsche Bank

Justin Lake – Wolfe Research

Kevin Fischbeck – Bank of America

Whit Mayo – SVB Securities

Ben Hendrix – RBC Capital Markets

Ann Hynes – Mizuho

Gary Taylor – Cowen

Brian Tanquilut – Jefferies

Scott Fidel – Stephens

Andrew Mok – UBS

Stephen Baxter – Wells Fargo

Joshua Raskin – Nephro Research

Jason Cassorla – Citi

Jamie Perse – Goldman Sachs

Sarah James – Barclays

Matt Borsch – BMO Capital Markets


Welcome to the HCA Healthcare First Quarter 2022 Earnings Conference Call. Today’s name is being recorded.

At this time, for opening remarks and introductions, I wish to flip the decision over to Vice President of Investor Relations, Mr. Frank Morgan. Please go forward, sir.

Frank Morgan

Good morning, and welcome to everybody on right now’s name. With me this morning is our CEO, Sam Hazen; and CFO, Bill Rutherford. Sam and Bill will present some ready remarks, after which we’ll take questions.

Before I flip the decision over to Sam, let me remind everybody that ought to right now’s name comprise any forward-looking statements which might be primarily based on administration’s present expectations. Numerous dangers, uncertainties and different components might trigger precise outcomes to vary materially from those who may be expressed right now. More data on forward-looking statements and these components are listed in right now’s press launch and in our varied SEC filings.

On this morning’s name, we might — we might reference measures equivalent to adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP monetary measure. A desk offering supplemental data on adjusted EBITDA and reconciling internet earnings attributable to HCA Healthcare, Inc. is included in right now’s launch.

This morning’s name is being recorded, and a replay of the decision can be obtainable later right now.

With that, I’ll now flip the decision over to Sam.

Sam Hazen

Good morning, and thanks for becoming a member of our name.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect our leads to the primary quarter with the Omicron surge, which slowed in the midst of the quarter. More considerably, the difficult labor market pressured margins as the price of labor elevated greater than we anticipated as in comparison with the primary quarter of the prior 12 months. In the face of those challenges, nevertheless, we had a variety of optimistic quantity and income indicators that have been encouraging.

Compared to the primary quarter of prior 12 months, same-facility admissions elevated 2%. During the quarter we supplied care to roughly 49,000 COVID-19 inpatients, which represented roughly 10% of complete admissions, in step with prior 12 months. Non-COVID admissions grew 2.2%. This development occurred in February and March. Inpatient surgical procedures grew roughly 1%. And throughout our inpatient enterprise, acuity ranges and payer combine continued to be robust.

Outpatient volumes additionally rebounded strongly within the quarter. Same-facility emergency room visits grew 15%. Same-facility outpatient surgical procedures grew practically 7%. And outpatient cardiac-related procedures grew by roughly 7%.

We proceed to consider that general demand for well being care stays robust in our markets throughout most classes, with favorable inhabitants traits and different contributing components that developed throughout the pandemic driving it.

Total revenues grew 6.9% in comparison with the primary quarter 2021. Same-facility inpatient revenues grew 5.4%. And same-facility outpatient revenues grew 10.6%. Bill will present extra shade on our revenues in his feedback.

I notice that our backside line monetary outcomes weren’t what we anticipated, however these prime line metrics have been optimistic.

Diluted earnings per share, excluding positive factors on gross sales of amenities, have been $4.12, which was down $0.02 from the prior 12 months.

In the quarter, we skilled greater ranges of contract labor bills than deliberate. As in comparison with the fourth quarter, we noticed modest enhancements in sure contract labor metrics. We count on additional enhancements within the the rest of the 12 months as we align the workforce appropriately by lowering each the utilization of contract labor and the related hourly charges for these contracts.

In some conditions, the challenges within the labor market additionally constrained our capability, stopping us from delivering hospital providers to sure sufferers. By the top of the quarter, we have been capable of overcome a few of these capability constraints. And for essentially the most half, our switch facilities have been capable of function usually and transfer extra sufferers to the correct setting in our networks.

It is vital to grasp, we’re doing what we completely should do to maintain our sufferers, and we are going to all the time try this. This previous quarter, our groups continued to indicate up and ship on our promise to offer high-quality care to sufferers who want our providers. I need to thank them for his or her dedication and exhausting work throughout these difficult occasions.

We do, nevertheless, have quite a few initiatives underway round retention, recruitment, capability administration and new care fashions that we consider will assist offset a few of these labor pressures. However, we now consider enchancment in our labor price can be slower than initially anticipated. This issue primarily influenced our revised outlook for 2022.

We will proceed to put money into our folks, in {our relationships} and in our networks. We consider these investments are applicable and will assist us handle the long-term alternatives for development that exists in our markets.

At the top of the quarter, we had roughly 2,500 amenities or websites of care in HCA Healthcare networks. This represents a 15% enhance over final 12 months.

Recently, we printed our Annual Impact Report for 2021, which highlights the large affect our colleagues had on the sufferers and communities we serve. You can discover the main points on our web site.

Before I flip the decision over to Bill, let me finish my feedback with this. Over the previous few years, now we have demonstrated a capability to regulate successfully to no matter our realities are, and I’m assured we are going to do it once more.

With that, I’ll flip the decision over to Bill. Thank you.

Bill Rutherford

Okay. Thank you, Sam, and good morning, everybody.

I’ll present some further feedback for the quarter after which handle our 2022 up to date steerage.

First, let me present a bit extra commentary on our revenues within the quarter. We are inspired with sure traits we noticed in our non-COVID exercise throughout the quarter. Same-facility non-COVID admissions grew 2.2% versus the prior 12 months, and our non-COVID income per admission grew 2.4% on account of sustaining our acuity ranges and a barely favorable payer combine as in comparison with the prior 12 months.

Within our COVID exercise, our same-facility COVID emissions have been barely above final 12 months and represented roughly 10% of our complete admissions, however we did see decrease acuity and depth with the Omicron variant this 12 months.

Our COVID inpatient income per admission was down roughly 15% from the primary quarter of final 12 months, which resulted in roughly $150 million much less COVID income this 12 months as in comparison with the primary quarter of final 12 months.

Let me transition to debate some money move and stability sheet metrics. Our money move from operations was $1.345 billion as in comparison with $2 billion within the first quarter of 2021. We did pay $344 million of deferred payroll taxes from 2020 throughout this quarter, representing 50% of the entire quantity deferred.

Capital spending was $860 million as in comparison with $650 million within the prior 12 months interval, and we accomplished simply over $2.1 billion of share repurchases throughout the quarter.

Our debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio on the finish of the quarter was barely under the low finish of our goal vary, and we had slightly below $7.9 billion of accessible liquidity on the finish of the quarter. We plan to make use of roughly $2.6 billion of this quantity to redeem our 2023 bonds within the second quarter.

Finally, I’ll point out, as famous in our launch this morning, throughout March of this 12 months, CMS accredited the direct to cost portion of the Texas Waiver Program. As a end result, we acknowledged $385 million of income and $160 million of further supplier tax assessments associated to this portion of this system from the interval September 1, ’21 by March 31, 2022. Of these quantities, roughly $244 million of the income and $90 million of the supplier tax assessments associated to the September by December of ’21 interval.

As famous in our launch this morning, we’re adjusting our full 12 months 2022 steerage as follows: We count on revenues to vary between $59.5 billion and $61.5 billion. We count on internet earnings attributable to HCA Healthcare to vary between $4.95 billion and $5.34 billion. We count on full 12 months adjusted EBITDA to vary between $11.8 billion and $12.4 billion. We count on full 12 months diluted earnings per share to vary between $16.40 and $17.60. And we count on capital spending to stay at $4.2 billion for the 12 months.

So let me present some further commentary on our adjusted steerage and three major areas that now we have thought-about.

First, our price of labor was greater than anticipated within the first quarter, primarily because of the utilization and value of contract labor. We now consider the disruption of the labor market and the strain this locations on labor price inflation can be slower to average than we initially anticipated.

Second, as I beforehand mentioned, we noticed decreased acuity and income from Omicron COVID sufferers within the quarter, and this decrease acuity has been factored into our steerage as properly.

And lastly, we made assumption round elevated inflationary pressures and count on that to have larger affect on us going ahead, together with for skilled charges, power procurement, price of utilities and different buy providers.

So let me shut with a quick dialogue on a few of the initiatives now we have underway to reply to these present market dynamics.

We’ve spoken up to now of our resiliency efforts, which now embrace 3 principal focus areas. First is round staffing and capability, as Sam talked about in his feedback. We have groups engaged on and centered on a number of work streams on this class. These work streams is centered round investing in and enhancing worker recruitment and retention efforts and enhancing capability administration by new case administration fashions and know-how options. In addition, we’re exploring new supply fashions by our care transformation initiatives. All of those are centered on supporting our care groups and easing a few of the present labor pressures.

Second, now we have our unique resiliency packages which might be persevering with. Many of those are advancing efficiencies by our subsequent technology of shared providers. Examples of those embrace a consolidation and alignment of laboratory operations, facility administration, environmental and meals and vitamin assist areas.

And then the third main effort underway is an initiative round advancing {our capability} to benchmark key efficiency metrics throughout the group. This is meant to determine variation and alternative to see our greatest practices throughout a number of areas, equivalent to provide utilization, supplier assist prices, discretionary spending and different comparable price space. Many of those have been factored into our unique planning assumptions, and we stay centered on these efforts to assist offset a few of the contract labor and inflationary price pressures we’re experiencing.

So with that, I’ll flip the decision over to Frank to open it up for Q&A.

Frank Morgan

Thank you, Bill. [Operator Instructions] Emma, chances are you’ll now give directions to those that wish to ask a query.

Question-and-Answer Session


[Operator Instructions] Your first query right now comes from the road of A.J. Rice with Credit Suisse.

A.J. Rice

Maybe simply attempt to drill down a bit bit extra on — I do know inside the vary, you have modified your outlook for EBITDA by about $650 million on the excessive finish, $750 million on the low finish. There’s quite a lot of shifting elements within the first quarter with what’s occurring with Texas supplemental funds. Can you inform us how a lot of that adjustment was as a consequence of what you noticed within the first quarter? And how a lot is altering in your pondering for the remainder of the 12 months? And significantly, perhaps simply drill down on the labor feedback about perhaps what you have been pondering earlier than versus what you are pondering right now by way of use of contract labor charges and so forth, if there’s something that may be shared there.

Bill Rutherford

Yes, A.J., that is Bill. Let me give {that a} shot. So as we’re trying ahead and we’re attempting to take what we noticed within the first quarter to make some assumptions and revision of our assumptions going ahead, let’s discuss in regards to the 3 areas.

And first, as I discussed, the strain on the labor price that what we’re seeing is it is greater than we initially deliberate. It’s primarily associated to using contract labor. But we’re additionally adjusting our base wage simply to be aware of the market as properly.

As I might give it some thought, our unique plans was to type of handle our general price per FTE someplace between that 3% and three.5% stage. What we noticed within the first quarter is our price per FTE was about 1.5% greater than we anticipated. So as we forecast this going ahead for the stability of the 12 months, it might have a $400 million to $500 million affect. So we factored that into our steerage.

The second space is relating to the Omicron variant, the much less acuity in income, not solely that we noticed within the first quarter, however to the extent that we proceed to see some COVID at a decreased stage than what we noticed within the first quarter, we factored that in. And then lastly, as I discussed, just a few inflationary will increase above what we initially anticipated.

So I feel the best way I might characterize it, roughly 2/3 of our revision, I might apply to type of our wage and inflationary price pressures and 1/3 of that because of the income acuity primarily to the COVID sufferers.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Pito Chickering with Deutsche Bank.

Pito Chickering

Embedded on the steerage discount, are you able to stroll us by the contract labor p.c of nursing hours in fourth quarter, within the first quarter and the way you assume that rolls off all year long. And then the identical query on the charges for contract labor. And simply because shares had a giant transfer right now, any likelihood you guys can provide us kind of a variety for a way we ought to be modeling 2Q EBITDA?

Bill Rutherford

Yes. Peter, let me give a shot at that. I feel we talked about on our fourth quarter name, our contract labor as a p.c of nursing hours was round 11%. In the primary quarter, it is about that stage, too. We have been 11.4% particularly within the fourth quarter, about 11.6% within the second quarter. We are experiencing elevated price per hour of that contract labor, principally, we consider, associated to the COVID surges. Our plans going ahead are to proceed to scale back the utilization of that contract labor and finally average the common hourly price that we’re having to spend for that contract labor. But we expect that moderation can be slower than we initially anticipated. So that is what’s primarily based in our assumptions, and it is principally influenced with what we noticed within the fourth quarter.

Sam Hazen

Yes. And let me add to that, Pito, that is Sam. I feel as now we have gone by 2 years of up and down intervals with surges, short-cycle regular interval surges, one other short-cycle regular interval, we noticed within the surges an acceleration in each turnover and using contract labor. As I discussed on my ready feedback, we do what we bought to do to maintain our sufferers.

What we’re anticipating is not any extra important surges as we transfer by the remainder of this 12 months. And we — that offers us some alternative and a few stage of confidence that we will average using contract labor. And a few of our different initiatives ought to present assist, recruitment, a few of our retention efforts and so forth, giving us a chance to wean ourselves off the excessive ranges of contract labor. And we noticed that within the quick cycles to a sure diploma, however we by no means have been capable of maintain it just because it was simply that, a brief cycle.

So as we undergo the remainder of this 12 months, we expect the cycle can be longer with respect to these surge, and that can give us a chance to achieve some traction with a few of these initiatives. Our groups are working diligently throughout the amenities to make this occur. And once more, I’m assured, simply as we have finished up to now, that we will make these changes over time and get us to the place we have to be.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Justin Lake with Wolfe Research.

Justin Lake

First, only a fast follow-up on Pito’s query. Can you give us a quantity as to the place you count on to finish the 12 months on contract labor as a share? And simply to verify, does that sit in working expense or different working? Because that was the road merchandise that appears prefer it was a bit off.

And then my precise query is, Sam, simply as you’re taking a step again, proper, there was an enormous enchancment in margins throughout COVID. It appears like they take a step again right here. I’m simply curious, do you suppose it is a sustainable margin or a sustainable EBITDA stage to type of take into consideration leaping off for subsequent 12 months? Or do you suppose a few of these enhancements might enable you to shut the hole versus the place you have been while you guided the 12 months initially?

Bill Rutherford

Justin, that is Bill. Let me begin with the primary a part of that. Without giving any particular numbers, you have heard us discuss, we count on to lower the utilization. If I look earlier than COVID, we can be hovering round 9% to 10% of ours. I do not know precisely, there are such a lot of uncertainties, however we count on it to sequentially enhance going ahead.

That does come by the SWB line, not the opposite working. You did point out the opposite working. It was primarily influenced with the supplier tax assessments that I discussed in my ready remarks.

Sam Hazen

Yes. This is Sam, Just. With respect to the margins within the first quarter, I feel the margins within the first quarter have been clearly pressured, as we have indicated right here, with considerably unprecedented ranges of price on the labor aspect. We — once more, these prices have been pushed in some respects by the surge that we have been reacting to and that pressured in a really important approach.

I do consider, over time, we will get well a few of that misplaced margin as we proceed to appropriately align our workforce with extra everlasting workforce or extra environment friendly workforce coming from the contract labor class.

As — setting a goal, we do not essentially have a goal for contract labor. Obviously, in 2019, we have been perhaps half of what we’re operating right now, someplace in that zone. I do not know if that is real looking within the quick run. But I’m hopeful within the intermediate run, with the variety of initiatives that now we have plus our Galen College of Nursing enlargement program, that we will begin to get again to these type of ranges. But I do suppose the primary quarter was uniquely pressured from a margin standpoint merely due to the elevated ranges of contract labor and the prices thereof.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Kevin Fischbeck with Bank of America.

Kevin Fischbeck

Just need to perhaps comply with up on that query there. I feel final quarter, you have been speaking about one thing like a 20% to 21% margin as type of in the end being sustainable. Is that the best approach to consider it? Or have a few of these issues modified your view? And it seems like, for essentially the most half, you talked about recapturing margin, you are speaking about price financial savings. Is there something on the speed aspect that’s a part of that equation? And in that case, does that take a few years to play out? Or is that one thing that we will take into consideration extra normalized margins as quickly as subsequent 12 months?

Bill Rutherford

Well, Kevin, when you have a look at our steerage, I feel it could indicate near these 20% margin ranges. Obviously, we have needed to alter a few of our pondering, given type of these inflationary price pressures that we’re seeing. So we’re doing every little thing we will to function the corporate as effectively as doable. There’s quite a lot of variables that we all know go into margin. Volume, acuity, payer combine, persevering with to handle our price buildings appropriately. So I might use that 19% to twenty% stage within the quick run. And over time, we’ll proceed to seek out methods to proceed to function effectively.

Sam Hazen

On the payer contract, we’re having extra discussions. Obviously, the payers perceive the inflationary pressures that suppliers have. And there’s early discussions. It does not change our income combine within the 2022 interval as a result of we’re largely contracted for 2022. But as we transfer into 2023 and 2024, Kevin, now we have alternatives to make the most of our payer contracts to get some reduction from the inflationary pressures. And as we additional our discussions with these industrial payers, I’m optimistic that we will acquire some escalators which might be extra consistent with the inflationary pressures of right now versus the inflationary pressures of the previous.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Whit Mayo with SVB Securities.


Bill, what are you assuming in your algorithm this 12 months for the steerage round COVID and non-COVID? I feel you have been assuming non-COVID was going to be, I do not know, 2% to three% of the entire. How has that shifted? And is there something that you would be able to share on how non-COVID, both inpatient, outpatient or something, is monitoring by April, which may simply give us a way of the run price.

Bill Rutherford

I am unable to say April, Whit, at this level. But we mentioned in our ready remarks, non-COVID was up 2.2%. And that was actually in February and March. In February and March, we have been seeing 4.5% to five%, doubtlessly in these ranges. So once more, that is why I mentioned we’re inspired by these traits. I do not suppose actually what we noticed within the fourth quarter actually in broad phrases have an effect on our quantity outlook. We nonetheless see good quantity demand within the marketplaces. So initially, we mentioned 2% to three% quantity development, COVID nonetheless being between that, perhaps 3% to five% of our complete admissions. And I feel proper now, I feel that is largely consistent with our present expectations.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Ben Hendrix with RBC Capital Markets.

Ben Hendrix

Just an actual fast follow-up on the remark you made only a second in the past, Sam, about bettering effectivity of contract labor. We’ve all the time type of characterised this as type of the labor backdrop because the contract being the type of transitory piece and wage inflation being extra everlasting. Is that — can we learn that type of bettering effectivity remark is perhaps your expectation that contract labor utilization at greater charges is extra of a everlasting assemble now going ahead within the labor market?

Sam Hazen

Well, I feel it is exhausting than it was in 2019. I do not suppose will probably be exhausting than it was within the fourth quarter or the primary quarter. I feel charges will naturally come down because the surges subside and as workforce is aligned with extra everlasting employees and so forth. And so we’re dealing within the first quarter and the fourth quarter and a bit bit within the third quarter as properly very excessive price per hour for contract labor. And we don’t consider that’s sustainable. And so we’re anticipating enhancements in that.

Additionally, I feel we are going to see reductions within the variety of contract labor personnel that we use. Again, as our initiatives acquire traction, we have invested closely in our recruiting operate and actually improved the candidate expertise inside that. We have some bettering retention efforts and compensation packages that we expect are going to assist that element of our set of initiatives. So all of that leads us to consider that we will get the associated fee per FTE down from the place it was within the fourth quarter and the primary quarter. And in order that’s our pondering.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Ann Hynes with Mizuho.

Ann Hynes

Can you inform us — after I have a look at inpatient admissions and adjusted admissions versus 2019, they’re nonetheless down about 3%. Can you inform us what’s embedded in steerage for 2022 versus the 2019 baseline traits, please?

Bill Rutherford

Ann, that is Bill. So as I discussed earlier than, we nonetheless consider we’ll find yourself seeing 2% to three% admissions for the complete 12 months ’22. You’re proper, we’re down a bit on ’19. I’d should take a second to see what that represents in ‘19, it is about 1% is what I feel that will be our ’21 quantity versus the baseline ’19, could be down about 1%.

Sam Hazen

Yes, let me shade that a bit bit extra, Bill, if I’ll, please. I feel a few issues in terms of our same-store 2019 versus our same-store 2021. Our uninsured volumes are down 11% from 2019. So that is a really important level.

The second level I might say is we have had a reasonably important shift of orthopedic complete joint surgical procedures go from inpatient to outpatient from 2019 to 2022. Again, that is put strain on the admissions.

Our surgical procedures have been really up over 2019. And then once more, with our emergency room visits, when you have a look at the classes which might be the paying classes have been barely up, however our uninsured actions have been approach down.

So I feel you bought to have a look at the parts of the enterprise and perceive the totally different parts. And so the combo, barely higher shift inpatient to outpatient, which we have talked about over the past couple of years, and that influences the 2022 to 2019 comparability.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Gary Taylor with Cowen.

Gary Taylor

Wanted to consider seasonality of income and EBITDA if — when you can right here. Do we return to kind of pre COVID and take into consideration first quarter, fourth quarter EBITDA all the time being greater? Or will we take into consideration J&J and a few of the different gadget corporations have mentioned all-time excessive cancellations in January, issues actually began bettering in March and April. And then clearly, you have bought some anticipation that labor price might ease a bit sequentially. So are we again to regular EBITDA seasonality but? Or is the 12 months nonetheless extra advanced? And are you able to assist us a bit.

Sam Hazen

I feel a few issues, Gary. Thank you for that query. The seasonality, we talked about this within the fourth quarter name, was actually tough for us to discern as a result of, once more, we have been weaning ourselves off the Delta variant after which ramping up on the Omicron variant.

I feel the seasonality once more, with our quantity, is a bit unsure to us proper now. My sense is that this may very well be a extra regular interval on seasonality for quantity in 2022 than any that we have had over the past 2 years, clearly.

But the seasonality on our prices, as we have indicated, I feel are going to be totally different. And they are going to be totally different as a result of we’re at a excessive watermark on labor price per FTE within the first quarter. And sometimes, our prices would go up seasonally. But we expect as we work by the initiatives and the alignment of our workforce, we’ll have a special sample to our price in 2022 than what we have had in earlier years. And then hopefully, 2023 will get again to regular.

So that is how we’re enthusiastic about it. Obviously, there’s nonetheless months to return right here for us to grasp, in truth, if that does play out, however that is our pondering at this level.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Brian Tanquilut with Jefferies.

Brian Tanquilut

Sam, simply to — follow-up some questions on labor price? So one query we’re getting requested is, why now? Like you guys have finished an incredible job managing by labor over the past 1.5 years? And perhaps any shade you’ll be able to share on what you are pondering by way of turnover in your perm nurses.

And then I suppose for Bill, to comply with as much as that, is you known as out acuity as a driver of the income steerage minimize. But as we pull again on temp employees, is there going to be an affect in labor — or on volumes that we ought to be enthusiastic about?

Sam Hazen

So the primary half of final 12 months, our prices weren’t in what I name an elevated state from the labor. And we talked about this on our third quarter name, we additionally talked about it once more on the fourth quarter name and now we’re mentioning it on the primary quarter name. So we’re working ourselves out of some comparisons, primary.

But our prices of labor have been dramatically disrupted within the Delta variant for a few causes. One, we jumped our census from the second quarter to the third quarter by 8.5%. We had file census ranges within the firm within the third quarter. Not for the third quarter, however perpetually. And that compelled us to reply to these sufferers in an applicable approach.

The market — the labor market was being tremendously impacted throughout the summer time of 2021. And we had to make use of extra contract labor at the moment than we had in earlier intervals. Well, that is continued into the fourth quarter after which to the primary quarter. Again, we expect a few of that’s influenced considerably by the surges. So that is a part of what reoccurred.

As Bill alluded to it, the Delta variant was essentially the most intense income affected person inhabitants that we had. So the third quarter coated quite a lot of that price as a result of the income depth of the Delta sufferers was fairly excessive.

The fourth quarter had a mix of Delta and Omicron and it nonetheless was greater than the primary quarter. And so the labor prices actually have not modified per FTE in 3 quarters. I’m contemplating that to be a superb factor. And I’m additionally contemplating it to be the chance as a result of we’re utilizing an excessive amount of contract labor and it is nonetheless at elevated outsized charges.

And so our price development has continued within the quarter to be decreased. I feel our contract labor price per hour within the first quarter was down 5% from the fourth quarter. And inside the quarter — inside the first quarter, it was higher every month, month over month. Again, it provides us some confidence that the assumptions we’re making for the rest of the 12 months are affordable. So that is a part of why it does not seem like we handle by it in historic methods.

Our productiveness is at a really environment friendly stage in terms of staff per affected person. So we’re managing on that entrance in addition to we probably can. And as, once more, we get these different underlying initiatives into a traditional interval hopefully of no COVID surges, we’ll acquire floor on the strain that we have skilled over the previous 3 quarters.

Bill Rutherford

Yes. Brian, you bought a follow-up query. As I feel Sam talked about, too, in his feedback, there’s all the time the potential the place the labor pressures might have an effect on your quantity. What we have seen now could be in COVID surges as we handle by transfers, once more, I feel as Sam alluded in his feedback, on the finish of the quarter, we have been actually again to our regular ranges, however we’re persevering with to handle by that dynamic.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Scott Fidel with Stephens.

Scott Fidel

So we simply had the Medicare IPPS proposal [contract] for 2023 and definitely had a few totally different shifting items on that. So I believed it could be useful when you can provide us the gross versus internet kind of projection to your charges from that proposal. And then simply extra broadly, how you are feeling about CMS kind of factoring on this inflationary strain and in the end when you suppose that CMS will begin to issue that in additional precisely as we glance out perhaps to FY ’24 and past.

Bill Rutherford

Yes, Scott, that is Bill. I imply, clearly, we’re nonetheless assessing it. But I feel on first blush, we thought type of the gross enhance we noticed could be hovering slightly below 2%. That’s fairly in step with what we have seen. But I feel to your level, it does get netted out after we see the delay within the sequestration cuts on the market. So we’ll nonetheless assess that. So it could transfer it nearer to flat net-net all-in, however we’re seeing on the prime line slightly below 2% development on that. And so we’ll see how the ultimate rule comes out as we undergo feedback.

Sam Hazen

Yes. And in ahead years, sometimes, it takes a bit bit for the wage index to be adjusted to replicate what is going on on within the trade. So I feel as ’21 and ’22 begin to get baked into the formulation for inflation across the wage indexes of the hospital trade, it is going to begin to affect the reimbursement in barely alternative ways.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Andrew Mok with UBS.

Andrew Mok

Just wished to comply with up on the income commentary. Can you’re taking us by the parts of the decrease income steerage in additional element, perhaps assist bucket the $500 million decline between quantity, acuity and blend. And are there another government-related objects that you’d name out in that income decline?

Bill Rutherford

Yes, Andrew, that is Bill. I might inform you it is principally associated to the drop within the COVID acuity that I discussed in my feedback. And we’re estimating it to be roughly $150 million within the quarter. COVID, clearly, was greater at 10% of our admissions than we count on within the full 12 months. But when you run that out, I might say the overwhelming majority of that income decline could be because of the decrease acuity that we’re seeing with the Omicron variant and count on to see going ahead. And outdoors of that, there is not any different actually main merchandise that I might name out, simply the ebb and move of type of regular quantity patterns.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Stephen Baxter with Wells Fargo.

Stephen Baxter

Just wished to ask one other one on the labor market. So I’m certain a part of your course of round this concern includes an incredible diploma of aggressive intelligence about what is going on on in our markets. I hoped you would share a bit bit about what you are seeing out of your native market rivals and whether or not there are methods round contract labor or employed labor ahead, so even perhaps doubtlessly placing sure service traces on pause or perhaps exacerbating a few of the pressures you are feeling. I suppose, massive image, do you suppose they’re being as disciplined as you might be? And if not, how ought to we take into consideration the longer-term implications of that?

Sam Hazen

So from a aggressive standpoint, I imply, clearly, our wage packages should be aggressive. And meaning various things in several circumstances. And now we have made changes to our compensation packages, actually beginning again within the third quarter of ’21, to reply to a few of the market dynamics. We proceed to be very fluid in that individual space of our enterprise in responding to the totally different circumstances from one market to the opposite.

I might say that we expect we’re in a fairly great place. We have not seen any uncommon maneuvers broadly. We are lucky once more to have rivals that are typically solely native and in 1 market or 2 markets on the most. So we do not see kind of patterns that permeate all 43 markets for HCA Healthcare. And in order that’s a optimistic on that entrance.

But we have not seen something distinctive but from the aggressive panorama with contract labor and so forth. But I’ve bought to consider that they’re dealing with lots of the similar challenges as we do. And I consider over time we have been ready to make use of our working self-discipline, use our methods, use the learnings that now we have throughout the corporate to create benefit for us. And I consider we are going to proceed to do this.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Joshua Raskin with Nephro Research.

Joshua Raskin

Quick follow-up on contract labor. How lengthy are these typical contracts in place? And then my actual query is, are you having any points with discharges, post-acute discharges? Is that impacting size of keep, driving up price and, clearly, the identical DRG, the identical cost?

Bill Rutherford

Yes, Josh, it is Bill. Typically, these contracts vary round 13 weeks. So it takes time to regulate. But given the dimensions, they’re all the time flowing by our system on there.

And relative to post-acute and discharge planning, I might say, sure. I feel that is a part of our case administration initiatives that I spoke to in my ready feedback. I feel the provision and demand dynamics in post-acute, whether or not it’s expert nursing or different post-acute settings, on occasion could cause a backup in our discharges. And that is why we’re attempting to advance and make the most of some applied sciences, advance a typical organizational construction round case administration so we will proceed to deal with that and enhance that size of keep when sufferers are able to go house and there is applicable ranges of discharges.

That is a dynamic on the market. There’s little doubt about it. But I feel we’re focusing quite a lot of effort and power and sources to attempt to proceed to enhance in that space.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Jason Cassorla with Citi.

Jason Cassorla

I simply need to return to your feedback across the initiatives for retention recruitment capability administration and new care fashions. Can you simply assist by way of what’s totally different with these initiatives right now perhaps in comparison with maybe the way you utilized these initiatives again in 3Q ’21 when labor was choosing up. Is it simply extra depth there? Or are you leveraging incremental levers that perhaps weren’t thought-about or beforehand — utilized again then?

And then if doable, are you able to assist quantify the offset of those packages or initiatives associated to the $400 million to $500 million internet strain relating to the upper wages and prices with the revised steerage?

Bill Rutherford

Yes. I’ll begin and I’ll let Sam kick in. I feel it is a mixture of each escalating current initiatives and new ones. One, I’ll give an instance, and Sam talked about this earlier, round recruitment. We’ve elevated our funding in recruiter considerably. And that is been a very intentional effort.

Same round retention. We’re placing frequent retention methods throughout the group on there.

And then the case administration that I discussed in my feedback, we lately accredited an effort to actually align organizationally round our case administration methods. And we’re investing in new applied sciences to present us higher predictive assessments of sufferers’ wants at discharge.

So it is a mixture of accelerating and emphasizing current efforts in addition to implementing new ones. And it type of touches all bases, if you’ll, between recruitment, retention, capability administration.

And new care fashions, as you understand, can we — can we deliver new assist employees to assist the care groups, whether or not it’s by affected person care techs, by affected person security attendance and the like.

So we have a variety of initiatives to attempt to simply, as I mentioned in my feedback, proceed to assist the staff and ease these pressures.

I might say in our steerage, in our unique steerage, we had already factored in some affect of these. And we’ll proceed to deal with these to attempt to, I feel, counter a few of the market pressures that we’re seeing.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Jamie Perse with Goldman Sachs.

Jamie Perse

Question on volumes. Last 12 months, the timing of the COVID wave was fairly just like what it appeared like this 12 months. You had a very nice acceleration in 2Q final 12 months by way of volumes throughout the board. What are you seeing now by way of volumes? And is final 12 months’s expertise a superb proxy for a way we ought to be enthusiastic about the acceleration into 2Q?

And then only one fast follow-up. Can you guys give us what p.c of your Managed Care contracts are in place for 2023?

Sam Hazen

So February and March, which have been clearly months publish Omicron surge, behaved equally to the vacation surge that occurred on the finish of 2020 and on into the primary a part of 2021. Again, we had strong non-COVID admission development in February and March, as Bill alluded to, within the mid-single digits. So we’re inspired by that. There’s nothing to recommend that the patterns can be totally different. But once more, we’re studying, clearly, as we undergo these patterns and we’re hopeful that we can’t have any extra surges and we’ll have the ability to decide a few of these patterns extra successfully.

With respect to our payer contracts, we’re about 50% contracted for 2023 and about 30% contracted for 2024. Again, these capacities in every of these years give us alternatives to regulate a few of the inflationary expectations to the realities that now we have right now.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Sarah James of Barclays.

Sarah James

You’ve been speaking in regards to the majority of the strain being on temp labor, however I hoped you would unpack that a bit bit. Are you speaking about 2/3, 1/3 temp labor to type of the longer-tailed objects like wage inflation and bonuses or a extra excessive cut up?

And you guys are in a singular place proudly owning a nursing college. So are you seeing any shift in what area college students are deciding on? And how is that influencing your technique?

Sam Hazen

I do not know, Bill, if we — if I’ve the cut up proper in entrance of me to have the ability to reply the primary query, however let me communicate to the second query. We can get again to you on that first query with a bit bit extra specificity if we will.

It’s nonetheless early for us with the Galen College of Nursing packages and expansions. But simply a few of the new faculties that we have opened, Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee, elements of South Carolina, the enrollment in a few these conditions is file stage enrollment in nursing program within the Galen College of Nursing. So we have seen a very strong preliminary enrollment. That provides us confidence.

We additionally consider that now we have a chance to combine these college students into our group to assist present wants in addition to hopefully create synergy as they graduate this system and need to come to work for HCA Healthcare.

So we’re actually inspired by the prospects. But once more, that is extra intermediate run, type of a acquire, though there can be some quick run with nurse externs and rotations and so forth that we will make the most of, hopefully successfully, to assist present day wants. But the preliminary enrollment in a variety of these new faculties would recommend that there is nonetheless an inexpensive provide of scholars who need to go into nursing faculties.

Maybe circle again to — I suppose — I feel you may have a solution to your second query.

Bill Rutherford

No, no, I haven’t got a solution, Sarah. We’ll should get again with you. I feel our general labor mark is a mix of the non permanent labor and a few of the base wage inflation. I am unable to cut up it for you precisely. We’ll get again with you on that. But it is a mixture of each.

Sarah James

Just to make clear on the nursing college. I used to be attempting to grasp just like the structural shift that is happening, in case your graduating nurses are deciding on one area like surgical versus house well being versus like when you’re seeing identical to a structural shift in the place graduating nurses are going.

Sam Hazen

No, no, we’re not.


Your subsequent query comes from the road of Matt Borsch with BMO Capital Markets.

Matt Borsch

Question is off matter for the quarter, however there’s — I’ve been following this carefully, however there’s been clearly an ongoing dialogue round compliance with the value transparency rules. And I do know there’s quite a lot of complexity to the implementation. But are you able to simply handle the place, out of your standpoint, you might be with that? And what — while you would count on to get, if not already, to full compliance on that?

Sam Hazen

Well, I used to be going to say, we consider we’re compliant with the CMS guidelines, that are tremendously advanced and in some ways tough to implement due to the variations that exist from one industrial contract to a different and from one market to a different. So now we have, by our — an inside course of, established a program that we consider and CMS has validated in sure circumstances, is compliant. And we proceed to attempt to refine these displays in ways in which, once more, happy CMS’ evolving interpretation in addition to our skill to regulate a few of our postings to satisfy the evolving necessities.

Frank Morgan

Thank you very a lot. I’ll flip it again over to Emma.


Your final query right now comes from the road of Ben Hendrix with RBC Capital Markets.


Just to get to that 1/3 of the information down that is associated to the decrease acuity on COVID quantity, is there any option to give us an concept of the margin differential between the decrease acuity sufferers you have seen by Omicron versus COVID sufferers traditionally after which versus a non-COVID inpatient admission?

Bill Rutherford

No. I feel we would should comply with up off-line on that. I haven’t got any specifics in entrance of me of the precise margins. But I do know when now we have the acuity drop like we did, the income does move by just about all the way down to margin. But I haven’t got precise percentages that I might share with you between these varied variants that we have seen.

Frank Morgan

Okay. Emma, I feel that is about it now.


That concludes right now’s question-and-answer session.

Frank Morgan

All proper. Thank you, everybody.


This concludes right now’s convention name. Thank you for attending. You might now disconnect.

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