In a transaction valued at $5.4 billion, Columbia/HCA purchases HealthTrust, the former HCA spin-off focused on rural hospitals. Rick Scott’s mega-organization absorbs about $1.7 billion in debt from HealthTrust and increases its operations to 311 hospitals and more than 170,000 employees.

At the time, HealthTrust is chaired by Clayton McWhorter. He will use proceeds from the deal to launch LifeTrust America, a developer and operator of assisted living communities, in 1996.