Reports surfaced early last week that St. Louis-based Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, based in Renton, Wash., have been discussing the possibility of a merger for months.
If the two Catholic health systems were to merge their operations, the resulting not-for-profit organization would be the largest hospital operator in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal, with 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of approximately $44.8 billion.
Currently, HCA Healthcare, based in Nashville, Tenn., is the nation’s largest hospital operator, with 177 hospitals and revenue of $41.5 billion in 2016.
Ascension and Providence St. Joseph reportedly have discussed other potential ways of combining the two systems besides an actual merger, according to The Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation. Neither health system has commented on the rumored merger talks.
Ascension is the largest Catholic health system in the country and Providence is the second largest, Modern Healthcare reported, noting that Ascension’s operating income declined in fiscal 2017 and Providence St. Joseph’s operating income was $512 million lower in fiscal 2016 than in the previous year. Ascension, however, had an increase in net income in fiscal 2017 relative to the prior year as the result of investment gains.