Oct 1, 2018

Baylor, Memorial Hermann in talks for giant hospital merger

Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Photo: Baylor Scott & White Health

Leaders of Baylor Scott & White Health and Memorial Hermann Health System said Monday they are discussing a potential merger that would create a behemoth not-for-profit system across Texas with 68 hospitals and almost $15 billion in annual revenue.

Why it matters: Hospitals have been consolidating rapidly, as executives argue bigger scale will lead to better care and lower costs. But research shows hospitals with more market power raise prices, and these deals do not guarantee better, less expensive care.

The details: Baylor Scott & White mostly operates throughout central Texas, with a heavy presence in Dallas, while Memorial Hermann is based in Houston. Both systems also own their own health insurance companies.

  • Baylor Scott & White itself is the product of the merger between Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare five years ago.
  • Baylor Scott & White has above-average profits, recording a 7% operating margin and 10% total margin in the first nine months of its latest fiscal year. Memorial Hermann is profitable, but has struggled in the past 18 months in the competitive Houston area.
  • The two systems expect to close a deal by next year and did not say whether there would be layoffs. Baylor Scott & White CEO Jim Hinton would be the CEO of the combined system.

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Murkowski calls Mattis' Trump criticism "true and honest and necessary and overdue"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Thursday that she agreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis' criticism of President Trump, calling it "true and honest and necessary and overdue."

Why it matters: Murkowski, who has signaled her discomfort with the president in the past, also said that she's "struggling" with her support for him in November — a rare full-on rebuke of Trump from a Senate Republican.

Facebook to block ads from state-controlled media entities in the U.S.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook said Thursday it will begin blocking state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. this summer. It's also rolling out a new set of labels to provide users with transparency around ads and posts from state-controlled outlets. Outlets that feel wrongly labeled can appeal the process.

Why it matters: Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, says the company hasn't seen many examples yet of foreign governments using advertising to promote manipulative content to U.S. users, but that the platform is taking this action out of an abundance of caution ahead of the 2020 election.

Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.