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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.

Go deeper

12 mins ago - World

Australia to acquire nuclear submarines in historic security pact with U.S., U.K.

From left: Biden, Johnson and Morrison. Photos: Tayfun Salci (Anadolu Agency), Anna Moneymaker, Rohan Thomson/Getty Images

The U.S. and U.K. will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of a historic trilateral security partnership announced Wednesday afternoon by the leaders of the three countries.

Why it matters: The partnership, known as AUKUS, is a major strategic pact that will bind the U.S. and U.K. to Australia's security for generations — and a warning to China as the Biden administration continues to lay the groundwork for countering Beijing in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Biden expresses "great confidence" in top general after Woodward report

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday expressed "great confidence" in Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley after a new book said the general secretly assured his Chinese counterpart that President Trump had no plans to launch an attack.

The big picture: Details emerged that Milley told his Chinese counterpart that if Trump did decide to attack, Milley would give him a heads-up, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

FBI apologizes to the U.S. gymnasts abused by Larry Nassar

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, from left, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, and Collegiate gymnast Maggie Nichols arrive for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FBI director Christopher Wray on Wednesday apologized to U.S. gymnasts abused by Olympic Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar for agency's mishandling of the investigation.

Driving the news: Wray made the comments after four gymnasts — McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols — testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and detailed how the FBI mishandled their reports.