Did You Know?


Dave Kingsley

  • On July 30, 1943, Marie-Louise Girard was the last woman guillotined in France.  Her crime:  assisting women with abortion.  Many of the women she was helping had been raped by Nazi occupiers.  A 1988 movie, Story of Women, dramatizes her life.

  • Between 1908 and the present time, approximately 400,000 U.S. residents have been forcibly sterilized by state and federal government bureaucracies.  The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of state sterilization laws in the 1927 case of Buck v. Bell, Superintendent 274 U.S. 200.  Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the majority opinion in which he stated the following: It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.  Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

    Buck v. Bell
    is still extant case law – it has never been overturned.  The state of Oregon carried out a state ordered sterilization in 1981.  Over the past few decades evidence of involuntary hysterectomies and tubal ligations carried out on ICE detainees and women prisoners in the California prison system has been consistently surfacing.
  • Louisiana House Bill 813, which has cleared the Louisiana House Committee on Criminal Justice by a vote of 7 to 2, defines abortion as homicide, which would carry a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Critics of the legislation have argued that the bill will even outlaw use of IUDs as a contraceptive.

  • Aging prisoners have been the fastest growing demographic in the vast U.S. prison system. Human Rights Watch estimates that the age 65 or older inmate population grew an astonishing 94 times faster than the total sentenced prisoner population between 2007 and 2010. The older prison population increased by 63 percent, while the total prison population grew by 0.7 percent during the same period.
    Source: (https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/01/27/old-behind-bars/aging-prison-population-united-states).

Why Are We Putting Up With Medical-Industrial Grifters And Politicians Who Collaborate With Them?


Dave Kingsley

Who Pays for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act?

The answer to this subtitle, “Who Pays for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act?” is “You and I do. We all do.” We pay through our income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. We pay more than enough to provide all of us with first class medical care from the prenatal stage of life to the end of life. I can provide an overwhelming amount of evidence to support a claim that I will make in this and subsequent posts: we are getting far less for our money than we deserve because of greed supported by government/corporate corruption and propaganda.

Furthermore, corporations paid with taxes to underwrite our healthcare are allowed by federal and state governments to display their disdain for us with bizarre and insulting ad blitzes featuring carnival barkers like Joe Namath, Jimmie J. J. Walker, William Shatner, George Foreman, and other clownish characters with no self respect and the same amount of respect for us. You are paying for this incredible insult to your intelligence. If you are wondering why Medicare Advantage (MA) costs the Medicare program more than traditional Medicare, this is one reason.

Medicare has evolved into an incomprehensible Rube Goldberg morass of traditional and MA components incomprehensible to ordinary people. Enrolling in the program involves a lot of good luck or expert help for avoiding traps that could haunt you down the road if your health status changes. Even worse, hardly anyone knows that the MA program is an ongoing effort (facilitated by both political parties) to end traditional Medicare and rig the system in the favor of big insurance over beneficiaries. It’s succeeding with a swiftness beyond the wildest dreams of the corporate sponsors of the cleverly named Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

How Much Are You Paying For Government-Funded Healthcare?

In considering what you pay for federal/state collaboration with corporate America for medical care – which is practically all medical care in the U.S. – let’s consider the macro level numbers first and then discuss what it costs you – the resident/citizen/beneficiary. Annual expenditures for Medicare were approaching $1 trillion per year in 2020 and will no doubt reach that milestone this year. Medicaid expended $655 billion in 2020 and premium subsidies for the Affordable Care Act totaled $55 billion, medical care for post 9/11 veterans is estimated to cost $60 billion per year, tax deductions (expenditures) for employer sponsored health insurance is the largest tax expenditure at $227 billion, household out of pocket spending reached over $406 billion. With these expenditures and hospital, drug, physician/clinical services, the U.S. expended approximately $4 trillion for medical care in 2020 (https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NHE-Fact-Sheet).

We can only estimate total expenditures but $4 trillion is an acceptable official estimate, which would be approximately $11,700 per capita and 18% of GDP. This is double the expenditures of U.S. peer countries in Europe and Asia, which have universal, single payer systems rather the U.S. privatized model that blocks millions of our fellow citizens and residents from medical care.(https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/health-spending-u-s-compare-countries/).

I believe however that when tax expenditures are considered, $4 trillion, or $11,700 per capita and 18% of GDP significantly underestimates the total expenditure for medical care in the U.S. corporatized, for profit system. Corporations receive significant streams of revenue through the tax codes, which burdens ordinary wage and salary earning Americans by increasing their tax burden while reducing the capital gains taxes of corporations and high net worth individuals. There has been no attempt to enumerate the total amount of benefits accorded to medical care corporations for real estate depreciation, interest on debt, executive compensation, and other forms of federal and state tax expenditures. I’ve already noted the $227 billion for employer provided health insurance and included that in the $4+ trillion total.

One Egregious Example Of Corporate Greed Among Many

It is past time that the American people were told about the excessive executive compensation, unnecessary increases in shareholder value through stock buybacks, stock splits, and other manipulation of stock prices. Taxpayers need to be clearly enlightened about how much of their money is going to medical care versus going to shareholders, executives, advertisers, and other wasteful expenditures that we can expect in a privatized public-funded medical care – technically known as the medical-loss ratio. The Centene Corporation is one of many examples of greed and corruption unquestioned by the people sent to congress to oversee our rights as taxpayers and citizens.

Centene, which derives its revenue from Medicaid – poverty medicine – paid its CEO Michael Neidorff $24 million in 2020. The total compensation for Centene executives and board members (which includes former congressman and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and former congressman Richard Gephardt) was slightly more than $64 million. Much of this compensation is paid in stock options and stock awards. The first $500,000 of executive compensation is tax deductible, hence tax maneuvers (tax arbitrage) through stock awards/option are beneficial to corporate earnings.

It is not uncommon these days for high paid corporate executives to have their stock awards diverted into individual and family trusts or some entity set up for tax avoidance. Having analyzed the proxy statements of several health care corporations, I’ve come to realize how fabulously wealthy many families and individuals have become in corporations earning most of their revenue from government funded medical programs.

What Should Excessive Government-Funded Medical Expenditures Mean to You?

It may escape peoples’ attention that the budget in their state is strapped because of the cost of Medicaid due to massive numbers of residents unable to obtain access to care through some form of insurance. State revenue is primarily derived from income, property, and sales taxes. In most states, consumers pay at least 4 or 5 percent sales taxes on everything they buy – including food and clothing. Some states like Texas and Florida have no income taxes and therefore have high sales taxes. The burden of sales and property taxes is inversely proportional to income and wealth. Higher income people have a lighter burden. Although poor people who have the greatest burden for taxes are funding poor peoples’ medicine while wealthy individuals benefit financially from Medicaid have a lighter tax burden. Furthermore, program beneficiaries are treated as second class citizens in the health care system. Indeed, millions of poor people can’t even qualify for Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act and are essentially uninsured.

What does it mean to anyone in a society in which some of their fellow human beings are forced to pay taxes but denied medical care or accorded only low tier medicine for no other reason than they are poor? The public’s acquiescence in and acceptance of this injustice is mind boggling and disturbing.

In addition to state and federal income taxes paid by wage and salary earners, most every worker pays nearly 3% of every paycheck for Medicare (1.45% deducted from wages/salary and 1.45% submitted by the employer). These payroll taxes fund the Medicare hospital trust fund (Part A). At age 65, citizens qualify automatically for hospital benefits but are charged a premium for physician services (Part B), which will be $170.10 per month in 2022 (deducted from Social Security). Coverage for drug benefits (Part D) will cost around $37.00 per month. In spite of these costs, a major medical catastrophe can bankrupt you.

Hundreds of billions of tax expenditures for depreciation, employer provided health insurance, and generous tax avoidance provisions too numerous to mention flow from income taxes deducted from wage and salary earners’ paychecks – labor is taxed heavier so that capital can avoid taxes.

Budget Deficit & Inflation Propaganda

The monied elites are undeservedly rewarded through privatized, government-funded (with your taxes), medical care. Consequently, these programs do add significantly to U.S. debt and deficits. However, debts and deficits don’t bother me as much as the blame heaped on programs that benefit the American people for “running up the deficit.” The power elite owns the media and controls legislators through obscene amounts of political expenditures and can perpetuate big lies for the purpose of cutting benefits and increasing their share of program expenditures.

Here is some truth: Of the total expenditures on Medicare in 2020, 57% was paid by beneficiaries through their payroll taxes, premiums, co-pays, and deductibles (See page 10, 2020 Medicare Trustees’ Report). I submit to readers that the corruption of privatization and politics accounts for the other 43%. For instance, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which legislated the drug benefit into existence, prohibits negotiation of drug prices. Very little serious discussion occurs regarding excessive payouts to shareholders and executives and lack of price controls in all phases of medical care.

That budget deficits and debts – often blamed on Social Security and Medicare – are running up inflation is one of the big lies foisted on the American people through clever, highly paid, public relations firms. Not one cent of Social Security is paid out of the U.S. Treasury. All of it – 100% – is paid for by beneficiaries through taxes they pay while earning a wage or salary. As I explained above, less than half of the funds for Medicare is transferred from the U.S. Treasury. That would not be necessary if corporations, i.e. shareholders and executives, weren’t lining their pockets with your taxes.

Why Are the American People Putting Up With The Medical Industrial Complex & The Politicians Supporting Its Greed & Corruption?

We could write books about the incessant propaganda and conditioning heaped on the American public. Suffice it say at this point that “we the people” are victims of clever framing, narratives, and political strategies. The Medical-Industrial juggernaut has unlimited amounts of money to spend on lobbying, paying off legislators (both Democrats and Republicans), and grooming the media. Taxpaying citizens and residents are sitting ducks. Therefore, they have been conditioned to believe that they don’t deserve anything better and should thank their lucky stars for the kindness and beneficence of the elites for any healthcare they do have. And if they are paying taxes and have no healthcare paid for with their taxes, too bad. That’s life.

There is an answer to the sorry state of affairs in the U.S. medical care system. Citizens must become informed, organized, and force their legislators to answer for the money they are receiving from Big Pharma, the American Hospital Association, and every other big money, medical-industrial group, roaming the halls of legislatures and paying for political campaigns and other goodies for legislators.

Paid professionals as advocates need a narrative and political strategy that might be risky. Speaking truth to power necessitates exposure of powerful people such as Congressman Richard Neal, current chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee and a poster child for medical-industrial graft. He holds hearings on the disgraceful nursing home situation in this country without any intention of seriously reforming the system. If you don’t believe me, just Google him.

The Tallgrass Economics Blog will be focusing on propaganda, framing, narratives, political strategies, and how citizens can fight the corruption in a government-funded medical care system they pay for. We believe that the Democratic Party, liberals, and progressives could step up their political communication skills. We also believe that the great people in nonprofits advocating for reform of tax funded medicine need to come together and call out the politicians who are helping corporations fleece the hard working, patriotic, people of America.

Capitalism Can Only Thrive in a Robust Democracy. As Democracy Weakens, Capitalism Rots


Dave Kingsley

Democracy is becoming weaker in the United States and the economic system is becoming increasingly corrupt and inefficient. 

    The primary hallmarks of a well-functioning capitalistic system are competitive free-markets, disruption of stagnant companies and industries by innovative startup companies, widespread opportunities for entrepreneurship, and a government with the political will to regulate the economy and business on behalf of the people and the general welfare.  These characteristics have been alternatively strengthened and weakened in the United States over the past 200+ years.

    Currently, the super-rich, and major corporations representing a burgeoning oligarchy have plied their increasing share of the wealth to government capture. Consequently, the U.S. government and a large proportion of the corporate world have settled into a destructive, money-driven, relationship.  Over the past few decades, the amount government largess channeled into corporations, their shareholders, and executives has accelerated. It is important to recognize this as one major underlying cause of what may be the twilight of American democracy and a free enterprise system.

We Cannot Overlook the Role of Religion in the Rise of Anti-Democratic Corruption

    I believe that a major cause of deteriorating democratic systems in this country is the money washing over elections and office holders. Our seriously corrupted political system is due in large part to dominance of the Supreme Court by a Christian-theistic-fascistic movement which has a propensity to throw its weight behind a strongman leader and a conservative, wealthy, white, elite.   For instance, Citizens United is merely a convoluted decision handed down for the purpose of legitimating the purchase of legislators by oligarchs and entire industries.

    Recent world history has taught us that major elements of modern Christianity are prone to collaboration with fascist autocrats.  Examples of Christian leadership’s deference to and support of strongmen abound.  The most recent example of course is the Christian white nationalist movement’s strong backing of the vile Donald J. Trump. The Catholic Church has a well-known history of providing comfort and aide to fascists throughout Latin America. 

    During the fascist-Nazi movement of the 1930s, the Catholic church was all too often willing to place its imprimatur on German, Italian, Spanish, (European) Nazism, and fascism.  Following the Holocaust, ratlines set up by Catholic priests helped shuttle war criminals such a Mengele and Eichmann to Latin America.

    Most Christians and Christian leaders in the United States are opposed to the vicious, vile politics of Donald Trump and today’s Republican Party.  Unfortunately, they are far too passive, unorganized, and quiet.  I say to them: “Please do not underestimate the organization, money, passion and commitment of the proto-fascist Christian white nationalists promoting Trump and Republican candidates.” 

    The Wasteful, Corrupt, U.S. Healthcare System is a Symptom of a Sick Political System

    There is a reason Americans pay two to three times per capita for healthcare than peer countries in the advanced, industrialized sphere of the global economy:  corruption.  How many ways can we document the claim that corruption is at the root of the wasteful, inefficient, U.S. healthcare system?  In so many ways that they are too numerous to mention in one blog post.  I will discuss some in this post and many more in future posts, but I first want to say as a capitalist that privatization and healthcare are not compatible.  Medical care cannot be reduced to an industrialized, free market model and at the same time optimize the health and wellbeing of the U.S. population.

    As dark money as well as money right out in the open began to flood into the political system, the American people were conditioned to believe that traditional government programs on behalf of the general welfare were necessarily wasteful and inefficient.  We were sold the myth that private enterprise is more competent than government bureaucracy.

    Actual practice – for instance in the case of the military, infrastructure, Social Security and Medicare – belie this deceit.  Nevertheless, practically every facet of the public domain supported by taxpayers has been handed over to private corporations.  That includes the publicly funded healthcare system.  The mind-boggling amount of capital that has flowed from the pockets of ordinary, non-wealthy, Americans into the holdings of the 1% is so excessive that it will be difficult for those hardworking, every day, Americans to grasp.

    Officially, healthcare accounts for $5 trillion or 20% of the U.S. economy.  I think it is more than that due to the generous tax reductions gifted to corporations, boards of directors and executives in the healthcare industry.  In my view, practically all revenue streaming into corporations providing medical services is coming from government sources – taxpayers – such as Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and Obamacare.  At the same time, lobbying and campaign contributions keep costs spiraling up while care deteriorates and shareholders, boards, and executives pocket immense amounts of dividends, stock-growth, and compensation.

    The Finance-Insurance-Real Estate (FIRE) lobby, Big Pharma, device manufacturers, physician associations, the nursing home industry, and other powerful representatives of industries benefitting from corruption and excessive payouts can see the limitless government largesse available to them and have their representatives crawling all over our Nation’s capitol and the legislatures of the 50 states.  Legislators of both major political parties have become dependent on campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex.

    In future blog posts, we will be documenting the inordinate corruption overtaking the government funded U.S. healthcare system.  See the coming post regarding 1Health Healthcare and the Centene Corporation.  Two of a very large number of scandalous and yet typical cases of healthcare rip offs at the expense of “we the people.”

We Must Demand the Truth about the Federal Budget: It’s Important for Funding Medicare, Medicaid, and Other Federal Programs for the Elderly


Dave Kingsley

Political Economy Accounts for the Effects of Propaganda – Orthodox Economics Do Not

The focus of this blog is on economics, finance, and politics – we could more aptly say that we conduct research and write about “political economy.”  As opposed to orthodox economics – overwhelmingly taught in the academy and practiced by most professional economists these days – political economy considers the cultural, historical, and political, context of the economy.

In the current cultural context, an increasingly high tolerance of lying, and intentionally misinforming the public has been developing since the Reagan Revolution. A survival of the fittest, winner take all, hyper-competitive capitalism has become intertwined with money in politics, boosting venal politics. This is having a major effect on how federal spending is presented to the public.


 Propaganda has become a noticeable feature of public discourse on federal funding. By propaganda, I’m referring to intentional disinformation, i.e., lying, plus the individuals and organizations that wittingly and unwittingly disseminate it. As the venality of politics increases, there is a proportional increase in significant amounts of propaganda. For instance, in the past few decades, the late Wall Street mogul Peter G. Petersen funded several “inside-the-Washington, D.C.-beltway think tanks” for the purpose of selling the public on the belief that this country – the richest country on the planet – can’t afford to fund a decent level of retirement security, e.g., Social Security, SSI, medical care, e.g., long-term care, housing, and other programs for a dignified and humane old age.

I have already blogged somewhat about Petersen’s phalanx of organizations such as The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, The Concord Coalition, and The Bipartisan Policy Committee.  The boards of these organizations include prestigious individuals from government, the military, business, and super-rich families. Former congresspersons who have behaved suitably while in office often serve as board members or high paid executives of these special interest “think tanks” which pass themselves off as legitimate research institutions, when in fact they are propaganda machines.

Petersen’s Billions for Propaganda Have Had a Huge Impact on Budget Beliefs

If you are looking for information on the federal budget, you can find some nice looking, colorful, pie charts online that are simple, easy to understand, and wrong.  The pie chart below is nothing less than a lie. This representation of the 2019 budget has been typical of what has been disseminated over the past several decades. The 2020 budget will be atypical due to COVID and would muddy the waters somewhat on this post, which addresses enduring concerns.

The above chart illustrates the percentage of “federal spending” that is allocated to major categories such as Social Security and defense.  This is typical of what one finds when Googling the federal budget.  This chart is disseminated by the Committee on Budget & Policy Priorities (https://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-introduction-to-the-federal-budget-process).  The CBPP is usually on the progressive side of issues, but they are on board with the pervasive misinformation regarding the budget.  Unfortunately, misinformation about the federal budget dominates public discourse.

Social Security is “Off Budget” by Law:  It Only Makes Sense that it Would Be.

What’s wrong with the information on the above chart?  Although the data are purportedly “budget data,” they are not.  The title of the chart is “Federal Spending FY 2019,” which is a rather slick maneuver, because it appears in a document entitled “Introduction to the Federal Budget Process.”  No doubt, Social Security is a component of federal spending, but it has nothing to do with the budget.  “In the 1983 Social Security Amendments a provision was included mandating that Social Security be taken “off-budget” starting in FY 1993” (https://www.ssa.gov/history/BudgetTreatment.html#:~:text=Research%20Notes%special%20Studies%20by%20the%20Historian%27s,%20%24567%20billion%20%201%20more%20rows%20).

Expenditures on Social Security are from a dedicated payroll tax, benefits are actuarially determined based on individual accounts, and no general fund transfers are made to the program, which cannot run a deficit or borrow money. Benefits would be reduced if revenue could not meet payout earned by beneficiaries.  So, to display it as 23% of the federal budget is false. Furthermore, prior to 2020 and the COVID crisis, Trust Fund balance of $3 trillion had accumulated.  This was not counted against the deficit.

In 2019, Only 42.6% of Medicare ($339.8 billion) was Transferred from the General Fund.

The pie chart above pertains to a mythical budget of $4.4 trillion (see bar chart below).  Medicare is shown as 14%.  However, only 42.6% ($339 billion) of total Medicare expenditures of $796.2 billion is appropriated through the federal budget process. 

Instead of 14% of the total federal budget of $4.4 trillion, Medicare is less than 8%.  That is, if the federal budget is actually $4.4 trillion, which it isn’t.  Social Security must be eliminated.  There can be no argument about that.  Approximately $1.5 trillion in tax expenditures should be added, which would result in a total budget of nearly $5 trillion.

Tax expenditures are subsidies provided to corporations and individuals through the tax code.  “The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-344) requires that a list of “tax expenditures” be included in the budget” (https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/131/Tax-Expenditures-2021.pdf, p. 1).  You may have noticed that they never show up on impressive pie charts? So, for instance, subsidies to employers for health insurance provided by employers to their employees ($228 billion – the biggest tax expenditure) are not included in charts provided by think tanks.  Capital gains, employer defined benefits and defined contribution programs, accelerated depreciation, and a large number of other tax subsidies, most of which benefit high net worth individuals and corporations (including the long-term care industry), are major subsidies that cost taxpayers and put pressure on other forms of revenue.

Although Social Security & Medicare are a Small Part of the Federal Budget – they are Blamed for the Deficit

Social Security is not part of the $5 trillion federal budget.  So, the $339.8 billion transfer from the general fund for Medicare, which had total expenditures of $796 billion, mostly paid for with premiums, co-pays, deductibles (out of pocket or OOP expenses), and the payroll tax is on budget.  Hence, the entire $1.8 trillion expended on Social Security and Medicare only accounts for 6.8% of the entire federal budget.

The media will parrot press releases produced by the organizations responsible for budget propaganda.  Advocates, and activists have a duty and obligation to debunk and rebut these lies about cherished programs for the elderly.

The Financial Performance of “Nursing Home” Corporations during the COVID Pandemic, Part I: The Ensign Group


Dave Kingsley


The long-term care industry is paid by federal and state governments to care for medically fragile patients. That is an awesome responsibility. Historically, the industry has failed to provide the level of quality expected in a wealthy, humane, democratic society.  But the irresponsibility and negligence of so-called “nursing home” corporations in the face of a deadly pandemic has resulted in a human tragedy of incomprehensible proportions. Let’s call what happened what it is: gross negligence.

The public needs to know about the providers who have failed the patients in their care.  Hence, with this post, I will commence a series of highlights of companies in the business.  These posts are designed to illustrate the variety of corporations structured as publicly listed corporations, family trusts, private equity firms, family offices, sole proprietorships, and real estate investment trusts (REITs). One purpose of this series is to demonstrate the wide variety of ownership structures.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, I have been interviewed by various journalists about facilities with egregious amounts of COVID infections and deaths.  One task that I assisted members of the press with was tracking down ownership, which is often opaque and somewhat difficult to determine.  Initially, I’m highlighting two of those facilities and their owners: (1) Riverbend in Kansas City, Kansas, owned by The Ensign Group (ENSG) and Avocado Acute Care in San Diego, California, owned by the Jacob Graff Family Trust. This first post pertains solely to The Ensign Group.

The Ensign Group & the Riverbend Post-Acute & Rehabilitation Center

Riverbend Post-Acute & Rehabilitation Center came to the attention of the Kansas City media early in the sweep of the COVID pandemic through long-term care facilities.  According to the Kansas City Star, thirty patients had died from COVID in the facility as early as April.  I was contacted by Fox4 television reporters working on a story about a notorious loss of life in the facility early in the pandemic.

I was interviewed on air about the industry in general, but at the time I was not that knowledgeable about Riverbend ownership.  However, it did not take long to pin down The Ensign Group (ENSG) as the ultimate owner, which is a “holding company” and one of a handful of publicly listed owners in the business.

With over 200 facilities, The ENSG is one of the major players in the long-term care industry.  Given that it wasn’t formed until 1999, it is a rather young company.  Nevertheless, its revenue recently surpassed $2 billion.  Furthermore, a review of its annual 10-K and quarterly 10-Q reports filed with the SEC suggests that it has had robust earnings per share, has accumulated several hundred million dollars in cash and equivalents, and has very little debt (debt to equity ratio is at .15 versus 1.45 for the industry) – a very good position to be in these days.

How is it doing in this pandemic?  According to its third quarter 2020 10-Q filing, revenue was $599,255,000 compared to same quarter of 2019, which was $512,109,000.  It is doing stunningly well.  The ENSG reported 3rd quarter long-term debt of $113,322,000 compared to $325,217,000 as of December 31, 2019.

…earnings per share for the quarter was $0.77, representing an increase of 97.4% over the prior year quarter and adjusted diluted earnings per share for the quarter was $0.78, an increase of 95.0% over the prior year quarter.


At last check today I noticed that ENSG stock today was listed at $74.37 per share – near an all-time high. Here is what the Forex website had to say about the stock:

We wrote about the Ensign Group (ENSG) back in September and stated that gains may be only starting. The premise for our bullishness was the fact that earnings were increasing significantly and the technicals were following suit. Well, this momentum continued in the third quarter as the company reported adjusted net income of $44 million on sales of just under $600 million. In fact, record earnings over the past few quarters have resulted in management increasing its 2020 guidance significantly. Updated guidance for this year comes in at $3.12 per share on sales of approximately $2.435 billion. The maintaining of the top-line numbers illustrates that margins continue to increase. Management expects to do $3.50 in earnings per share in 2021 which would be a 12% increase over this year if met.


The annual 10-K reports and 10-Q filings are hundreds of pages of financial and other information. Suffice it to say that the ENSG has been an excellent investment. It is difficult to understand the lack of preparation by management for a pandemic they knew was coming. The 2020 proxy report indicates the CEO’s 2019 compensation was $6 million. Lobbyists for the industry will claim that providers are operating on a low margin, which is a lie and needs to be debunked by advocates. I suggest that advocates never buy the excuse that low quality and grossly neglectful care is caused by a provider’s financial hardship.

 I will conclude with this:  providers have received an immense injection of federal funds through the CARES act and other supplemental payments from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  No doubt the ENSG has taken advantage of the lending facility provided by the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department and has probably received some outright grants worth $millions.  It is not feasible at this time to sort out just how these programs have enhanced cash flow, but I will be working on this issue in the months ahead.