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Community Health's second quarter income drops on fewer patients

(Reuters) - Community Health Systems Inc reported a sharp decline in second-quarter profit on Monday, hurt by a drop in patient admissions at its hospitals and higher-than-expected bad debts.

Total admissions fell 5.1 percent in the quarter, compared with a year ago, the company said. Volumes were especially weak in May and June.

Community Health released preliminary results earlier this month, which sent its shares plunging. Monday's official quarterly results largely matched the preliminary figures.

Rising bad debts and declining admissions at hospitals in the still-weak economy are among the factors driving a wave of consolidations in the hospital sector. Patients are struggling with higher expenses for their medical care due to lack of insurance or larger deductibles.

Community Health is interested in a takeover bid for smaller hospital operator Health Management Associates, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month.

Community Health on Monday said its second-quarter income from continuing operations was $47.1 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with $102.2 million, or 93 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 33 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net operating revenue slipped 0.2 percent to $3.24 billion compared with the year-ago quarter. The company said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were $414.2 million in the second quarter, down from $483.1 million a year earlier.

(Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)