- Ascension and AdventHealth are unwinding Amita Health, the Chicagoland area's largest health system by hospital count, with 19 hospitals operating throughout the region.
- The two national chains are parting ways after jointly operating Amita Health for seven years, the systems said in a Thursday statement.
- Keith Parrott, Amita Health CEO, will continue to serve as the leader of the Ascension hospitals and facilities; Thor Thordarson, chief operating officer at Amita, will lead the AdventHealth hospitals in the market.
Unwinding a hospital merger deal is rare in the healthcare industry, which has steadily consolidated over the years, raising serious concerns about a lack of robust competition in many hospital markets and the subsequent impact on prices.
Over two decades, from 1997 to 2017, antitrust experts reported nearly 1,600 hospital mergers involving thousands of hospitals.
"This merger and acquisition activity has increased the absolute size and geographic footprint of hospital and health care delivery systems — and with it, their market power and political heft," according to testimony of Leemore Dafny, a Harvard healthcare professor, before a House subcommittee on antitrust this year.
Mergers and acquisitions continued during the pandemic, a tumultuous time for hospitals and health systems. There were fewer deals in 2020 compared with 2019; about 79 deals versus 92 in 2019, according to Kaufman Hall. So far this year, there are fewer transactions but the average seller size is much larger.
The systems did not go into detail about why they decided to unravel the joint operating venture, but the two did say that moving on separately was best "in order to more nimbly meet the changing needs and expectations of consumers in the rapidly evolving healthcare environment."
After the transition, Ascension and AdventHealth will operate their own hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Chicago region. Ascension will walk away with most of the hospitals in the area as AdventHealth will be left with the four hospitals and other related entities, per the statement.
For AdventHealth, those hospitals represented about 7% of total operating revenue for full-year 2020, according to the statement.
The transition will require untangling more than 25,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 80 clinics and outpatient facilities that make up Amita Health.