CEO of radiology provider Envision Healthcare exits as Congress scrutinizes firm’s surprise billing practices

The chief of radiology provider Envision Healthcare is departing at the same time that a powerful House committee investigates his firm’s tendency to saddle patients with surprise medical bills.

The Nashville-based physician group first announced President and CEO Chris Holden’s departure on Feb. 5. Envision did not disclose a reason for his exit, but said its board members are launching a nationwide search to replace their 13-year leader. In the meantime, Chief Operating Officer Karey Witty and other C-suite members will oversee the CEO office.

Investor-owned Envision is one of the country’s largest multispecialty, facility-based provider groups, leading a team of more than 900 radiologists, along with numerous other provider types. The House Committee on Energy & Commerce is currently investigating Envision’s medical billing practices, while its owners have reportedly poured millions into the fight against legislation to address this issue; private equity firm KKR completed its purchase of Envision last year for nearly $10 billion.

"We are concerned about the increasing role that private equity firms appear to be playing in physician staffing in our nation’s hospitals, and the potential impact these firms are having on our rising healthcare costs," Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., and Ranking Member Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in a September announcement of the investigation.

In KKR’s news release, leaders applauded Holden for his long tenure while avoiding any mention of the Congressional inquiry, or the company's surprise billing track record.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we appreciate Chris’ dedication to Envision’s clinicians and employees and thank him for his many contributions to the company. Envision is a special organization with exceptional people playing a vital role in the U.S. healthcare system today,” Max Lin, a partner at New York-based KKR and a member of Envision’s board, said in a statement.

Envision employs physicians in a range of specialties beyond just radiology/telerad. Those include emergency medicine providers, hospitalists, anesthesiologists and pediatricians, working in 1,800 healthcare facilities across 45 states and Washington, D.C. Envision has acquired multiple radiology practices in recent years, ballooning its total of imaging experts to more than 900, performing 10 million reads annually in 570 U.S. care facilities, according to the company’s website.