Reports: Ascension and Providence St. Joseph in talks to merge
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Ascension Health and Providence St. Joseph Health are in talks to merge and create the nation's largest hospital chain, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
A merger between St. Louis-based Ascension and Providence out of Renton, Wash., would give the combined not-for-profit entity 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion. The deal would put the merged company ahead of HCA, which has 177 hospitals and reported $41.5 billion in 2016, according to Modern Healthcare data.
Ascension, the nation's largest Catholic system, declined to comment on the report. Providence, the nation's No. 2 Catholic hospital chain, did not respond to a request for comment.
This merger tops one of the busiest weeks in recent history for the industry.
On Thursday, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health announced that they had signed a definitive agreement to align their systems. The new health system would include 139 hospitals, more than 159,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and other advanced practice clinicians. The combined revenue would total $28.4 billion.
On Dec. 3, CVS and Aetna proposed a $69 billion merger. That would be the year's largest and would leverage CVS' pharmacy benefits management business.
Earlier in the week, Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care announced it would cross state lines to merge with Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin. That merger would create the 10th-largest not-for-profit health system in the country.
If the Ascension/Providence merger reports pan out, the reason to combine would likely be scale or to buffer any forthcoming reimbursement or volume declines.
Ascension saw operating income decline in fiscal year 2017, but ended the period with higher net income than the prior year due to strong investment gains. In the past few months, the Catholic giant has rebranded to bring continuity to its operations across the country.
Providence St. Joseph suffered a $512 million drop in operating income and a $252 million operating loss in its fiscal year 2016.
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