Ascension Health and Providence St. Joseph Health have shelved talks to create the largest hospital network in the nation.
St. Louis-based Ascension and Renton, Wash.-based Providence, which are both not-for-profits, put their plans on hold, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, while they rethink their own strategies as patients increasingly seek care outside of hospitals. That reality has been causing heartburn at medical centers across the country, including in Illinois, prompting CEOs to add more outpatient sites like clinics and immediate-care centers to woo patients.
Ascension has a sizable footprint in the Chicago area. Earlier this month, the health system and Presence Health, a large Chicago-based Catholic health system, completed their union. Their marriage created the largest hospital network in Illinois based on number of medical centers. Presence is now part of a joint venture called Amita Health that Ascension shares with Adventist Midwest Health.
The Ascension-Providence deal would have been the latest in a flurry of mergers as hospitals grapple with a collision of financial woes. Besides patients hunting for cheaper outpatient care, medical centers also are dealing with rising drug prices and patients are coping with health insurance plans they can't afford. They're skipping out on paying their bills, leaving hospitals on the hook.