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IU Health is getting into the Fort Wayne market. Photo: IU Health

The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is reporting Indiana University Health, the dominant not-for-profit health system in the state, is expanding into the city. Brian Bauer — the former CEO of Lutheran Health Network in Fort Wayne who was fired by Lutheran's for-profit parent, Community Health Systems — will lead the IU Health region.

Why it matters: This is not just a small regional deal in Indiana. CHS is on the brink of collapse. And now Lutheran, one of CHS' most profitable hospital systems, faces a powerful competitor that likely will nab Lutheran's patients as well as doctors, nurses and other employees.

Inside Fort Wayne: Two sources familiar with Lutheran told me the environment is "toxic" and "adversarial." Lutheran already has lost employees to a separate nearby system, Parkview Health, the sources said. They also said Lutheran's profitability has dwindled this year. IU Health did not respond to inquiries.

  • IU Health plans to build hospitals and outpatient centers in the Fort Wayne area, and that would be a giant blow to Lutheran, which many Wall Street analysts say is the "crown jewel" of CHS. One source said Lutheran's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization last year were around $280 million.
  • That will make it even tougher for CHS to pay down its mountain of debt if profits get sucked out of its most lucrative region.
  • CHS, which is in the process of selling off hospitals, turned down a buyout offer of Lutheran last year.

What to watch: CHS will report third-quarter earnings after markets close Nov. 1, and the investor call will be the following morning.

Go deeper

Coronavirus hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking ProjectHarvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Danielle Alberti and Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 100,000 Americans are now in the hospital with coronavirus infections — a new record, an indication that the pandemic is continuing to get worse and a reminder that the virus is still very dangerous.

Why it matters: Hospitalizations are a way to measure severe illnesses — and severe illnesses are on the rise across the U.S. In some areas, health systems and health care workers are already overwhelmed, and outbreaks are only getting worse.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
22 mins ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

New hope for "smart cities"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's time to polish our gleaming vision of urban environments where internet technology makes everything from finding a parking space to measuring air quality a snap.

Why it matters: The Biden administration's Cabinet appointees are likely to be champions of bold futurism in urban planning — which could mean that smart infrastructure projects, like broadband deployment and digital city services, get fresh funding and momentum.