Advocate Health Tries Again With Hospital Merger

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By Liz Crampton

Chicago-area hospital system Advocate Health is giving a hospital merger another shot after the Federal Trade Commission blocked an earlier attempt to buy a rival provider in a recent, widely-watched legal fight.

Advocate now will merge with Wisconsin hospital system Aurora Health Care to form the tenth largest nonprofit system in the country, the providers announced Dec. 4. The combined health system, to be called Advocate Aurora Health, would have 27 hospitals and nearly $11 billion in revenue.

The federal government successfully prevented Advocate from joining with NorthShore University Health System on the grounds that a merged system would wield too much power in the Chicago hospital space, pushing up costs and removing options for patients. The FTC lost in federal district court in 2016, but an appeals court later sided with the government.

The Advocate-Aurora deal will be subject to similar state and federal regulatory approval. Aurora is a little farther north than NorthShore, which means the overlapping markets could be smaller and cause less antitrust concern. But it’s not clear whether regulators will still see problems. The parties expect the deal to close by mid-year 2018.

To contact the reporter on this story: Liz Crampton in Washington at lcrampton@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com

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