Beaumont's main hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. Photo: Elaine Cromie/Getty Images

Advocate Aurora Health and Beaumont Health have started formal merger discussions, the systems said today. The combined system would control 34 hospitals across Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and would generate $17.5 billion in annual revenue, which would be larger than companies like Salesforce or Mastercard.

Why it matters: This transaction — which is being initiated during a pandemic that hospitals say has stretched them financially — would create one of the largest hospital systems in the Midwest. But the evidence has been thorough in showing hospital mergers don't lower prices and don't improve care quality.

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Jun 24, 2020 - Health

Federal court rules hospitals must disclose their prices

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge upheld Tuesday the Trump administration's rules requiring hospitals to publicly disclose the prices they've negotiated with insurers — information that both hospitals and insurers would very much prefer to keep secret.

The state of play: The American Hospital Association sued to block the rules, arguing that they exceeded the administration's legal authority and infringed on hospitals' First Amendment rights. The court rejected both arguments.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 11,288,094 — Total deaths: 531,244 — Total recoveries — 6,075,489Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 2,839,917 — Total deaths: 129,676 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Trump's failing culture wars

Data: Google; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

President Trump built his political brand by stoking the nation's culture wars, but search data is showing us how much harder it's been for him to replicate that success while running against another white man in his 70s — and while there's a coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Google Trends data shows Trump's "Sleepy Joe" name-calling isn't generating nearly the buzz "Crooked Hillary" (or "Little Marco") did in 2016. Base voters who relished doubting President Obama's birth certificate aren't questioning Biden's.