CHICAGO -- The amount of BBB-rated health care debt has grown 15% over the last decade, partly due to deteriorating credit quality in the health care industry and greater investor acceptance of lower rated new issues, Standard & Poor's Corp. said last week.

Changes such as increased competition and revision of the federal government's Medicare reimbursement system, have contributed to an increase in BBB-rated debt, said Laura Kuffler, an associate director at Standard & Poor's. The triple-B category also has grown because of greater acceptance of those bonds by investors, many of whom are in search of greater yields, she said.

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