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Intermountain Healthcare has found a new merger partner. Photo: Intermountain

Intermountain Healthcare will acquire SCL Health roughly six months after Intermountain and Sanford Health ended their merger attempt.

Why it matters: The combined Intermountain-SCL system will own 33 hospitals, will generate more than $13 billion of annual revenue and will dominate several areas throughout Utah and Colorado — consequently gaining leverage over health insurers and employers as a must-have network if the deal is finalized.

What they're saying: The combined hospital system is committed to "transparency and affordability," but could not guarantee prices or employer premiums would stay flat or decrease, Intermountain and SCL leaders said during a press conference.

  • However, Intermountain CEO Marc Harrison said: "Hold us accountable."

By the numbers: Both tax-exempt systems posted high-end profit margins in 2020, which were buoyed in part by taxpayer bailout cash used to stem the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Intermountain, which also operates its own health plan, ended 2020 with a net profit of $1.7 billion on $10.1 billion of revenue.
  • SCL, which is a Catholic system, ended 2020 with net profit of $349 million on $2.9 billion of revenue.
  • This year is on pace to be even more profitable for the systems as patient volumes returned during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
  • The combined health system will be headquartered in Salt Lake City and Harrison will remain CEO. SCL will take on the Intermountain name.

The big picture: The pandemic didn't stop hospitals from merging with each other, and the pandemic likely sped up hospital buyouts of physician practices.

  • This trend has raised scrutiny. The Federal Trade Commission put out a statement in August saying: "Too many hospital mergers lead to jacked up prices and diminished care for patients most in need ... hospital executives hatching merger plans should take note."

Go deeper: A reality check on hospital mergers

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - Health

The health care worker revolt

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The toll of the coronavirus pandemic has spurred nurses, front-line technicians and other hospital employees to walk out or authorize strikes.

Why it matters: The pandemic has buckled a system that already faced worker shortages and burnout. Patients ultimately can't receive adequate care if workers leave from the stress and violence.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.