Business briefs 3/11/05

Friday, March 11, 2005

Tenet sets settlement in pricing cases

DALLAS -- Tenet Healthcare Corp. has agreed to settle some class-action lawsuits over prices that uninsured and underinsured patients were charged at hospitals owned by the chain's subsidiaries. The settlement, announced Thursday, is subject to court approval and not expected to become final for several months. Class-action lawsuits are pending against Tenet hospitals in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. If a nationwide settlement is approved by the California court, the cases will be subject to dismissal.

Greenspan: Deficits threaten economy

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday that future budget deficits pose a bigger risk to the economy than record trade imbalances and the country's extremely low savings rate. In a wide-ranging speech, Greenspan said he believed the nation's flexible economy would be able to deal with current concerns over trade and savings. The Fed chief said the budget deficit is a problem because it is projected to rise significantly as a wave of baby boomers start to retire in 2008. "Our fiscal prospects are, in my judgment, a significant obstacle to long-term stability," Greenspan said. Greenspan has been steadily beating the drum about the urgent need for policy-makers on Capitol Hill and the White House to get the nation's fiscal house in order.

Charter spells out terms for settlement payouts

ST. LOUIS -- Charter Communications Inc. stockholders have until this summer to claim some of the $144 million the cable TV provider will pay to settle shareholder lawsuits over the company's federally investigated accounting practices. Charter, which announced the settlement in August, spelled out the guidelines for the payouts in its annual report filed recently with federal securities regulators, noting that shareholders could split $66.25 million in cash, along with $80 million in stock and related warrants. Charter -- the nation's third-largest cable TV provider -- will pay $144 million, with an additional $2.25 million to come from its former accounting firm, Arthur Andersen LLP.

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