Putting DaVita Under the Microscope

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This interview has been edited to correct errors outlined below.

As a taxpayer, you foot the bill for many people who are on kidney dialysis. The treatment costs around $80,000 a year. A lot more people are on dialysis today than were back when Congress agreed Medicare should pick up the tab. In this month’s 5280 magazine, Luc Hatlestad writes about this little-known industry and about Denver-based Davita, the second largest kidney dialysis company in the world. He speaks with host Ryan Warner.


Hatlestad said doctors are on contract with DaVita and they get compensated for their referrals to DaVita clinics. While DaVita does have doctors on contract, they are not paid for individual referrals. And DaVita notes that its contracts with physicians state there is no obligation to refer patients to DaVita's clinics. Also, Hatlestad described a lawsuit the company settled for $55 million without admitting guilt. He said the suit alleged the company ordered excessive amounts of a key drug for dialysis patients-- to get more government reimbursements. The company notes that "physicians order dialysis drugs, not DaVita." And a final point to clarify. Hatlestad may have given the impression that DaVita was under federal investigation for its financial statements. In fact, he was referring to law firms that are investigating on behalf of shareholders.

[Photo: DaVita]