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Expand chart
Data: Ascension financial disclosures; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Taxpayer bailouts and massive gains from Wall Street investments helped Ascension — the largest tax-exempt hospital system in the country — glide through the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Dominant hospital chains like Ascension really haven't had to worry about their financial status during the pandemic, unlike smaller hospitals and safety-net systems, in part because those chains already accumulated massive rainy day funds over the years.

By the numbers: Patients still aren't going to Ascension's hospitals and doctors' offices as much as they were before the pandemic. But the Catholic system is still making a surplus from patient care as it treats sicker people, according to its most recent financial disclosure.

  • Ascension has received $1.8 billion in federal bailout grants and has registered $5.7 billion in total net profit in the 12-month period that ended March 31.

What they're saying: Ascension told its bondholders that the pandemic has cost the system "$1.9 billion in lost revenue and pandemic-related expenses," and that although the federal grants didn't completely cover that amount, it was "able to absorb the remaining negative financial impact through other operations."

  • It's worth noting Ascension is sitting on $26 billion of cash and investments.

Between the lines: Ascension is essentially a hedge fund that also happens to run hospitals and other care facilities.

  • Just one example: Ascension is a major investor of R1 RCM, a medical billing, coding and collections company whose stock price has doubled since the pandemic started.

Go deeper: Hospitals are making a fortune on Wall Street

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Aug 30, 2021 - Health

Stormy financial forecast for hospitals

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The financial forecast for hospitals in the second half of this year is looking decidedly stormier, thanks to the Delta variant, according to a new report from credit rating agency Fitch Ratings.

The big picture: The impact of Delta stretches across all areas of a hospitals' balance sheets and will likely hurt margins in the near- and medium-term.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant's involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Driving the news: Officer Michael A. Riley, 50, is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as "Person 1," in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack.