Financial updates from 16 health systems

The health systems listed below recently released financial results for the quarter ended March 31.

1. Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health had $15.13 billion in revenue for the nine months ended March 31, up from $15.12 billion in the same period last year. It reported operating income of $139.7 million in the first nine months of fiscal year 2022, down 79 percent from operating income of $653.9 million in the same period a year earlier.

2. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic recorded revenue of $3.9 billion for the three months ended March 31, representing about a 7 percent increase compared to the same period one year prior. Mayo Clinic ended the first quarter of this year with an operating gain of $142 million. In the same quarter last year, Mayo posted operating income of $243 million. 

3. Advocate Aurora Health, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill., recorded operating revenue of $3.6 billion in the first quarter of 2022. This represents a 9 percent increase over the comparable period in 2021, in which Advocate Aurora had $3.3 billion in revenue. Advocate Aurora ended the period with an operating income of $2.5 million. In the same period in 2021, Advocate Aurora recorded an operating income of $51 million. 

4. Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health saw revenues decline 6.6 percent year over year to $8.3 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, which ended March 31. CommonSpirit recorded an operating loss of $591 million in the three-month period ended March 31, compared to operating income of $539 million in the same period a year earlier. 

5. Renton, Wash.-based Providence saw its operating revenue hit $6.3 billion for the three months ended March 31. In the same quarter one year prior, Providence recorded operating revenue of $6.4 billion. It recorded an operating loss of $510.2 million in the first quarter of 2022, compared to $221.9 million from the same quarter a year prior.

6. Boston-based Mass General Brigham recorded operating revenue of $4.04 billion in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, up from the $4.02 billion recorded in the same period one year prior. Mass General Brigham posted an operating loss of $193.2 million. In the same period one year prior, Mass General Brigham recorded an operating gain of $250.2 million.

7. Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health‘s total revenue reached $564.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, a slight increase from the same period last year at $558.9 million. It reported an operating loss of $37.3 million for the three months ended March 31, compared to an operating income of $16 million in the same period last year.

8. Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth saw its revenue increase to $3.7 billion for the three months ended March 31, up nearly 8 percent from the same period last year. AdventHealth ended the first quarter of 2022 with an operating loss of $46.8 million. In the same quarter of 2021, AdventHealth recorded an operating income of $179.1 million. 

9. Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente reported total operating revenue of $24.2 billion for the three months ended March 31, up from $23.2 billion the year prior. Kaiser recorded an operating loss of $72 million. In the same quarter last year, Kaiser recorded an operating income of $1 billion.

10. For the three months ended March 31, Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health recorded revenue of $3.6 billion, up 3.7 percent from $3.4 billion recorded in the same period one year prior. Sutter Health ended the period with a $95 million operating gain. In the first quarter of 2021, Sutter had an operating loss of $49 million.

11. St. Louis-based Ascension reported operating revenue of $6.7 billion in the first three months of this year, up from $6.6 billion in the same period of 2021. Ascension ended the most recent quarter with an operating loss of $671.1 million, compared to an operating loss of $16.7 million in the same period last year.

12. Indianapolis-based Indiana University Health System had $1.93 billion in revenue for the three months ended March 31, a 2.9 percent increase year over year from $1.87 billion. IU Health posted an operating loss of $29.8 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared to an operating income of $192.7 million last year.

13. Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems had $3.1 billion in net operating revenue for the first quarter of 2022, a 3.3 percent increase from the $3 billion reported for the same period last year. The system posted a 17.2 percent decrease in its operating income, to $270 million for the three months ended March 31, compared to $326 million for the same period last year.

14. King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services had a 9.3 percent increase in revenue year over year for the first quarter of 2022. Net revenue was $3.3 billion for the three months ended March 31, up from a little over $3 billion in the same period of 2021. UHS’ operating income fell by 21.2 percent year over year for the first quarter of 2022 to $232.9 million, compared to $295.7 million for the same period last year.

15. Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare reported revenues of $15 billion in the first quarter of this year, up from $14 billion in the same period of 2021. HCA’s net income in the first quarter of 2022 totaled $1.3 billion, down from $1.4 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.

16. Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare posted net revenue of $4.8 billion in the quarter ended March 31, down 0.8 percent from the same period last year. Tenet recorded an operating income of $648 million in the first quarter of 2022. In the same period last year, Tenet’s operating income was $520 million.

The 18 health systems Walmart sends its employees to for care in 2022

In an effort to rein in healthcare costs for its employees, Walmart sends them directly to health systems that demonstrate high-quality care outcomes, otherwise known as Centers of Excellence.

Through the COE program, Walmart will cover the travel and treatment costs for employees seeking a range of services, but only with providers the company is contracted with. Walmart then reimburses with bundled payments negotiated with the providers.

To determine which providers get access to its 1.6 million employees, Walmart starts by examining health systems. Lisa Woods, vice president of physical and emotional well-being at Walmart, and her team analyze public data, distribute requests for information and conduct detailed on-site visits.

Below are the 18 health systems or campuses to which Walmart will refer patients for defined episodes of care in 2022. (See how COE participants have evolved since 2019 or 2021.)


Cleveland Clinic 

Geisinger Medical Center (Danville, Pa.)

Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle)

Weight loss surgery

Emory University Hospital (Atlanta)

Geisinger Medical Center (Danville, Pa.)

Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City)

Northeast Baptist Hospital (San Antonio)

Northwest Medical Center (Springdale, Ark.)

Ochsner Medical Center (New Orleans)

Scripps Mercy Hospital (San Diego)

University Hospital (Cleveland)

Spine surgery

Emory University Hospital (Atlanta)

Geisinger Medical Center (Danville, Pa.)

Carolina NeuroSurgery & Spine Associates (Charlotte, N.C.)

Mercy Hospital Springfield (Mo.)

Mayo Clinic Arizona (Phoenix)

Mayo Clinic Florida (Jacksonville)

Mayo Clinic Minnesota (Rochester)

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (Houston)

Ochsner Medical Center (New Orleans)

Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle)

Breast, lung, colorectal, prostate

or blood cancer

Mayo Clinic Arizona (Phoenix)

Mayo Clinic Florida (Jacksonville)

Mayo Clinic Minnesota (Rochester)

Hip and knee replacements

Emory University Hospital (Atlanta)

Geisinger Medical Center (Danville, Pa.)

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (Baltimore)

Kaiser Permanente Irvine (Calif.) Medical Center

Mayo Clinic Florida (Jacksonville)

Mayo Clinic Minnesota (Rochester)

Mercy Hospital Springfield (Mo.)

Northeast Baptist Hospital (San Antonio)

Ochsner Medical Center (New Orleans)

Scripps Mercy Hospital (San Diego)

University Hospital (Cleveland)

Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle)

Organ and tissue transplants

(except cornea and intestinal)

Mayo Clinic Arizona (Phoenix)

Mayo Clinic Florida (Jacksonville)

Mayo Clinic Minnesota (Rochester)

Massachusetts hospitals to spotlight payers’ record pandemic profits

The Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association is planning to release its semiannual health plan performance report next month and will focus on payers’ finances and enrollment in 2021. 

In a May 23 newsletter, the association highlights the 22 percent increase in payers’ net worth during the COVID-19 pandemic, which totals $6.1 billion for all plans in the state. The newsletter also points to the combined $1.2 billion profit made in 2020 and 2021, which exceeds the previous five years combined.

The newsletter does point to the important role insurers played during the pandemic, including providing coverage of medical care, new therapies, vaccinations and COVID-19 testing. Under federal law, payers also provided rebates to premium payers as healthcare utilization decreased significantly. Some payers independently provided financial support to stabilize providers and used their resources to support the pandemic response.

“Despite these new expenses and efforts related to the COVID-19 emergency, health insurance company profits were substantially higher than at any point in recent history given the overwhelming effect of decreased medical utilization,” the newsletter said.

The association also criticized the decrease in claims payouts during the pandemic, arguing surplus revenue should have been used to increase payouts and not increase profits. 

The hospital group stated that four specific payers, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, UnitedHealthcare of New England, Tufts Associated HMO and HMO Blue from BCBS Massachusetts have risk-based capital ratios that approach or exceed 600 percent.

The Trend of Health System Mergers Continues

While healthcare is delivered locally, the business of healthcare
is regional, and the regions are only getting bigger.
and health system mergers alike have continued to shift from
local to regional, and the recently announced merger between Advocate Aurora
Health and Atrium Health clearly highlights that the regions are only getting

Advocate Aurora, with a presence in Illinois and Wisconsin, and Atrium Health,
with a presence in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will
combine to create a $27 billion health system that will span six states and make it
one of the leading healthcare delivery systems in the country. The combined
organization, which will transition to a new brand, Advocate Health, will operate
67 hospitals and over 1,000 sites of care, employ nearly 150,000 teammates, and
serve 5.5 million patients. Together, Advocate Health will become the 6th largest
system in the country behind Kaiser Permanente, HCA Healthcare, CommonSpirit
Health, Ascension, and Providence.

We have seen a number of large health systems come together recently,
including Intermountain Healthcare + SCL Health to create a $15 billion revenue
system, Spectrum Health + Beaumont ($14 billion), NorthShore University Health
System + Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare
($5 billion), LifePoint Health + Kindred
($14 billion), and Jefferson Health + Einstein Healthcare Network ($8

The exact reasoning for each merger differs slightly, but one of the common
threads across all is scale.
But not scale in the traditional M&A sense. Rather,
scale in covered lives; scale in physician infrastructure and alignment; scale in
clinical and operational capabilities; scale in technology, innovation, and
partnerships with non-traditional players; scale for capital access; and scale for
insurance risk to compete in a value-based world. It is no longer the strong
acquiring the weak. Rather, strong players are coming together to gain scale to
face the headwinds in a unified manner.

For Advocate Aurora and Atrium, coming together is about leveraging their combined clinical excellence,
advancing data analytics capabilities and digital consumer infrastructure, improving affordability, driving health equity, creating a next-generation workforce, research, and environmental sustainability. Together, they have pledged $2 billion to disrupt the root causes of health inequities across underserved communities and create more than 20,000 new jobs.

Both Advocate Aurora and Atrium are no strangers to mergers. Advocate and Aurora came together in 2018, and prior to that Advocate was intending to merge with NorthShore before being blocked due to anti-trust. Atrium has grown over the years, merging with systems such as Navicent Health in Georgia in 2018, Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina 2020, and Floyd Health System in Georgia in 2021. In the newly proposed merger, Advocate Aurora and Atrium are coming together via a joint operating arrangement where each entity will be responsible for their own liabilities and maintain ownership of their respective assets but operate together under the new parent entity and board. This may allow the combined entity more flexibility in local decision-making. The current CEOs, Jim Skogsbergh and Eugene Woods will serve as co-CEOs for the first 18 months, at which point Skogsbergh will retire, and Woods will take over as the sole CEO.

Mergers can come in various shapes and structures, but the driving forces behind consolidation are not unique. With the need to compete in value-based care, adequately manage risk, gain scale across covered lives, physicians, and points of access, successfully deliver affordable high-quality care, and the need to deal with the vertical and horizontal consolidation of the large-scale payers, the markets that health systems operate in must be large enough to be effective and relevant. We fully expect to see more of these larger scale health system mergers in the near term.

The physical delivery of healthcare is local, but, again, the business of healthcare is not; it is regional, and the regions are only getting bigger.

Hospitals urge Justice Department to probe insurers over routine denials

The American Hospital Association, on behalf of its nearly 5,000 healthcare organizations, is urging the Justice Department to probe routine denials from commercial health insurance companies. 

Specifically, the AHA is asking the Justice Department to establish a task force to conduct False Claims Act investigations into the insurers that routinely deny payments to providers, according to a May 19 letter to the department. 

The request from the AHA comes after HHS’ Office of Inspector General released a report April 27 that found Medicare Advantage Organizations sometimes delayed or denied enrollees’ access to services although the provider’s prior authorization request met Medicare coverage rules. 

“It is time for the Department of Justice to exercise its False Claims Act authority to both punish those MAOs that have denied Medicare beneficiaries and their providers their rightful coverage and to deter future misdeeds,” the AHA said in a letter to the Justice Department. “This problem has grown so large — and has lasted for so long — that only the prospect of civil and criminal penalties can adequately prevent the widespread fraud certain MAOs are perpetrating against sick and elderly patients across the country.”

Read the full letter here.

Mass General Brigham to cut spending by $70M a year

Boston-based Mass General Brigham submitted a cost-reduction plan to Massachusetts regulators May 16, which includes a promise to cut healthcare spending by $70 million a year. 

The health system was ordered by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission in January to develop a plan to reduce costs after the watchdog determined it had pushed healthcare spending above acceptable levels in the last few years. Specifically, the commission found that Mass General Brigham had substantially higher-than-average commercial spending from 2014 to 2019. The health system spent $293 million those years, more than any other provider in the state.

To achieve its spending reduction goal, Mass General Brigham said it would focus on four items: cutting prices, reducing utilization, shifting care to lower-cost sites and expanding value-based care. 

A key savings driver in Mass General Brigham’s plan is to lower outpatient and ConnectorCare rates to improve affordability. ConnectorCare is a program of subsidized private health insurance plans for patients whose family income doesn’t exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level and who are not eligible for MassHealth, Medicare or other affordable health coverage. The health system expects to save about $53.8 million in spending a year through reducing these rates.

“Mass General Brigham is committed to expanding access to consumers, particularly in ambulatory care. To achieve improved access, we are focused on decreasing the price variation between Mass General Brigham pricing and the marketplace,” Mass General Brigham said in the performance improvement plan. 

The health system said it expects to save $10.8 million in spending a year by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and post-acute care and reducing use of high-cost outpatient imaging. 

The health system said it expects to save $5.3 million in spending a year by shifting care to lower-cost settings, such as moving to “hospital at home,” expanding telehealth or using other ambulatory sites. 

In addition to reducing utilization, shifting care to lower-cost sites and reducing price, Mass General Brigham said it is committed to expanding value-based care.

6 hospital, health system deals called off this year

Six health system and hospital deals have been canceled so far this year, whether it be a scrapped merger or acquisition or the unwinding of a partnership.

1. Proposed Dartmouth Health, GraniteOne Health merger canceled
Lebanon, N.H.-based Dartmouth Health and Manchester, N.H.-based GraniteOne Health are canceling their proposed merger after the state Attorney General’s Office said the move would violate the New Hampshire constitution, according to VTDigger.

2. Hackensack Meridian, Englewood withdraw merger plans
Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood (N.J.) Health have dropped their merger plans, a spokesperson for Hackensack Meridian told Becker’s.

3. Canyon Atlantic ends bid to buy 2 Pennsylvania hospitals
The prospective buyer of two shuttered Pennsylvania hospitals has filed a motion to end litigation to purchase the facilities, The Daily Local reported March 8.

4. Lifespan, Care New England withdraw merger application
The boards of Lifespan and Care New England — both based in Providence, R.I. — have decided to withdraw their merger application after the Federal Trade Commission made an announcement Feb. 17 it would file suit to block the deal.

5. Hoag, Providence to split: 5 things to know
Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, Calif., and Providence, a Catholic health system based in Renton, Wash., said they would end their affiliation in January.

6. Trinity Health won’t buy Tower Health hospital
Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic has abandoned its plan to buy Tower Health’s Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hospitals performed 100,000 unnecessary surgeries in the first year of COVID-19, Lown Institute says

U.S. hospitals performed more than 100,000 surgeries on older patients during the first year of the pandemic, according to a new Lown Institute analysis. 

The healthcare think tank relied on Medicare claims data and analyzed eight common low-value procedures. It called the 100,000 procedures unnecessary and potentially harmful in a press release. It found that between March and December 2020, among the most-performed surgeries were coronary stents and back surgeries. 

The procedures either offered little to no clinical benefit, according to the institute, or were more likely to harm patients than help them. 

“You couldn’t go into your local coffee shop, but hospitals brought people in for all kinds of unnecessary procedures,” Vikas Saini, M.D., president of the Lown Institute, said in a statement. “The fact that a pandemic barely slowed things down shows just how deeply entrenched overuse is in American healthcare.”
Here is the volume of each procedure analyzed, for a total of 106,474 procedures identified:

1. Stents for stable coronary disease: 45,176
2. Vertebroplasty for osteoporosis: 16,553
3. Hysterectomy for benign disease: 14,455
4. Spinal fusion for back pain: 13,541
5. Inferior vena cava filter: 9,595
6. Carotid endarterectomy: 3,667
7. Renal stent: 1,891
8. Knee arthroscopy: 1,596

Among the “U.S. News & World Report” 20 top-ranked hospitals, all had rates of coronary stent procedures above the national average in what the Lown Institute called “overuse.” Four had at least double the national average, including the Cleveland Clinic, Houston Methodist Hospital, Mt. Sinai and Barnes Jewish Hospital. The procedures and overuse criteria were based on previous Lown research.

“We’ve known for over a decade that we shouldn’t be putting so many stents into patients with stable coronary disease, but we do it anyway,” Saini said. “As a cardiologist, it’s frustrating to see this behavior continue at such high levels, especially during the pandemic.”

In response to the Lown analysis, the American Hospital Association said in a statement Tuesday that delays or cancelations in non-emergency care may have negative outcomes on patients. “Lown may define these services as ‘low value,‘ but they can be of tremendous value to the patients who receive them,” the statement read.

It also pointed to its response to last year’s Lown analysis, which it criticized as being based “on data that are not only incomplete, but also not current.” The organization argued the services surveyed only represent a portion of the care hospitals provide. It added that procedures are determined by physicians based on an evaluation of the patient’s medical needs. 

Relief funding helped hospitals stay in the green during COVID-19’s initial barrage, study finds

Despite substantial operating margin declines during the first year of COVID-19, U.S. hospitals were able to keep their finances on track thanks to billions in government relief funds, Johns Hopkins researchers wrote in a new study published Friday in JAMA Health Forum.

Per their analysis of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Cost Reports data, researchers found that thousands of hospitals broadly maintained their overall profit margins thanks to a boost in “other nonoperating income,” the category under which hospitals recorded the collective $175 billion in subsidies Congress allocated to support healthcare facilities and clinicians.

This was particularly the case for government, rural and smaller hospitals that typically run on tighter margins, the researchers wrote. Because they, by design, received more targeted relief than other types of hospitals, these facilities were able to record higher overall profit margins in 2020 than in prior years.

“Hospital operations were really hit hard during the pandemic,” Ge Bai, professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, a professor of accounting at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and an author of the study, said in a statement.

“Our study shows that the relief funds provided an important lifeline to keep financially weak hospitals up and running.”

Among the study’s sample of 1,378 hospitals, mean operating margin declined from –1.0% in 2019 to –7.4% in 2020, representing the hit facilities took to their operations prior to the relief funding.

Those hospitals’ mean overall profit margin during the first year of the pandemic was 6.7%, which the researchers wrote was stable in light of the preceding four years and across all ownership types, geographic locations and hospital sizes.

The difference-maker, they wrote, was an increase in other nonoperating income as a share of a hospital’s total revenue. While that mean share was 4.4% in 2019, it jumped to 10.3% in 2020 thanks to the government relief funds.

Additionally, certain types of hospitals with traditionally lower overall profit margins saw significant improvements in 2020. These included government hospitals (3.7% to 7.2%), rural hospitals (1.9% to 7.5%) and hospitals with fewer admissions (3.5% to 6.7%).  

“Hospitals that tend to serve socioeconomically disadvantaged patients and more who are uninsured are the most vulnerable to financial losses,” Yang Wang, a doctoral student in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management and the study’s first author, said in a statement. “But the extra federal funding helped them stay operational.”

The researchers’ study included hospitals with fiscal years beginning in January whose financial data were compiled and processed as part of RAND Hospital Data, which in turn pulls its data from CMS’ Medicare Cost Reports. The findings persisted among a second sample of 785 hospitals from the database with fiscal years beginning in July.

The government’s distribution of COVID-19 relief funds to providers has faced some critique from healthcare policy researchers, some of whom suggested that the methodology led to funding skewed toward hospitals serving well-insured communities.

Much of the relief set aside for hospitals has since run dry or is on its last legs as of early 2022. With COVID hospitalizations again ticking upward and earlier surges still unaccounted for, industry groups and the Biden administration alike are pushing Congress for more relief support.

RWJBarnabas Health, Saint Peter’s integration deal wins NJ approval, awaits FTC signoff

RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) and Saint Peter’s Healthcare System’s proposed integration has received the blessing of New Jersey regulators, a key step forward as the systems look to form what they describe as the state’s “first premier academic medical center,” according to a Monday announcement.

The organizations are now awaiting a final approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before moving ahead with the deal.

“State approval now puts us on the cusp of being able to create New Jersey’s first multi-campus premier academic medical center that will draw top talent, increased research funding and more opportunities for groundbreaking clinical trials, while also enhancing specialized services and improving overall patient care,” Saint Peter’s President and CEO Leslie Hirsch said in a statement.

“New Jersey deserves to have a premier academic medical center of national distinction like many other states that will serve as a destination for patients from all walks of life to get lifesaving treatment for complex illnesses and as an anchor for medical innovation, educational opportunity and economic development,” Hirsch said.

The two health systems had signed a definitive agreement declaring their “intention to integrate” in late 2020.

The organizations said that in addition to increasing services and strengthening patient access, the premier academic medical center’s location in New Brunswick, New Jersey, would play a role in attracting more academic talent and research to nearby Rutgers University.

The systems’ announcement also cited affirmation from Superior Court Judge Lisa Vignuolo, who said when authorizing the transaction that the deal “will serve in the public interest and the public good.”

RWJBH is the larger of the pair, providing care to more than 3 million patients annually across 11 hospitals, four children’s hospitals and dozens of other centers. It’s already the largest academic health system in New Jersey thanks to a collaboration with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Schools to train over 1,000 medical residents and interns across RWJBH hospitals yearly.

Formed in 2007, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System is a Catholic organization headlined by the 478-bed Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick. It also operates a children’s hospital, primary and specialty care networks and a surgical center.

Under the previously announced terms of the agreement, Saint Peter’s would remain a full-service acute healthcare provider in New Jersey and continue to adhere to its Catholic healthcare mission. RWJBH would make significant strategic capital investments in St. Peter’s facilities, technology and innovation.

“This is a tremendous milestone in a years-long journey towards fulfilling our shared vision to bring transformative care to New Jersey,” RWJBH CEO Barry Ostrowsky said in a statement.

The beginning of the year already saw RWJBH officially acquire Trinitas Regional Medical Center, an Elizabeth, New Jersey-based Catholic teaching medical center.

Regulators’ green light for RWJBH’s moves contrasts with the recent opposition to Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health’s now-nixed merger plans. The FTC and half of the country’s state attorneys general fought the proposal due to concerns that it would remove competition and harm residents in New Jersey’s Bergen County.