Denver-based DaVita under fire after HBO report

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DENVER -- For more than 20 minutes Sunday, HBO's "Last Week Tonight" reported on the practices of DaVita, a Denver-based company specializing in kidney dialysis.

John Oliver, who hosts the comedy/investigative program, took on the company's CEO, playing a tape of Kent Thiry saying he runs his company just like he would a Taco Bell.

"Yes, you heard him right he just said he runs DaVita -- a health care company, like a Taco Bell," Oliver joked.

The 24-minute report then featured interviews from DaVita patients saying they often felt rushed by employees during treatment.

Oliver also highlighted the nearly $1 billion in lawsuits the company has settled in recent years.

Perhaps the most striking audio was from undercover recordings from "Last Week Tonight" staffers in which DaVita officials are heard equating dialysis to kidney transplants.

"It's actually a choice, you don't have to have a transplant,"  a female employee is heard saying.

"I haven't even seen it," Thiry said of the HBO report.

In a statement, the company said: "We are proud of our differentiated clinical outcomes, our teammates’ dedication to patient care and our strong culture. Our teammates are passionate about delivering high-quality patient care and enabling our patients to live fulfilling lives. We will continue to advocate for our patients and invest in our teammates and our culture."

For Coloradans, the report has people feeling mixed.

"They saved my life," said Leslie Henry, a DaVita patient of four years. "I recommend anybody to come here instead of giving them five stars, I recommend 20 stars."

But former employees of DaVita say the report was not a surprise.

"It was about making money," said Elena Navrro, a former employee.

Navarro is part of a collective action lawsuit accusing DaVita of not paying employees for staying extra to care for patients.

"You would have to choose between your job and patient's safety," Navarro said.

Ramos law firm is still collecting names of people who used to work for DaVita.

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