United, HCA battle has gone past words

Published September 18, 2006

United HealthCare's 850,000 members in the Denver area are in the same boat as the nearly half-million members here: Because of a contract impasse, they can not access HCA hospitals.

But in Denver, United suggests the fight has gotten physical. United spokesman Mark Lindsay said Dr. Craig Keyes, CEO of United's Colorado division, was accosted and his house vandalized in July.

"It was clearly tied to the negotiations," Lindsay said. "That's why we're taking the unusual step of becoming more vocal."

United did not accuse HCA of involvement, but noted the attacks took place after HCA sent a letter to United members with Keyes' e-mail and other contact information.

The offenses? Someone spray-painted Keyes' house with the words "Insurance pig." Shortly afterward, someone threw water on Keyes "in a public setting." Lindsay said no suspects have been apprehended.

HCA did not respond to a request for comment.