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Aurora Health Care merging with Illinois' largest provider

Posted at 5:24 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 19:13:09-05

MILWAUKEE -- Aurora Health Care hopes to have a new name by next year. They want to be called "Advocate Aurora Health."

The merger between Aurora and Advocate Health Care is being called a new transformation for patients in our area that will have “…27 hospitals… employ 3,300 physicians… with combined annual revenues of $11 billion…”

UW-Milwaukee economics professor Owen Thompson found upsides to this merger, including the bigger pool of doctors to choose from. He is critical of it overall.

"Because I think this new larger provider network will be able to charge higher prices to health insurers or consumers directly," Thompson said.

The merger is now being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and is expected to go through by next year.

Here's the full news release sent by both hospitals jointly:

Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI —­­ Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care announced today their plans to merge to create Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th largest not-for-profit, integrated health care system in the United States, serving nearly three million patients each year. The two organizations, known for their track record on clinical quality and outcomes, cited enhanced scale, expanded access, greater efficiencies and a shared commitment to transform the care delivery model as key drivers for the merger.
“This merger is about transforming care delivery and reimagining the possibilities of health as bigger meets better and size meets value to benefit consumers,” said Jim Skogsbergh, president and chief executive officer of Advocate. “By joining forces we will be able to expand our network to scale innovation and create a destination in the Midwest for patients and the talented clinicians who care for them.”
“For the communities in Illinois and Wisconsin that we serve and for our two organizations, this is an unprecedented opportunity to shape our future and better serve patients,” said Nick Turkal, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Aurora. “We are fortunate that our organizations are coming together from unique and complementary positions of strength, particularly at a time of evolving industry dynamics. Working together, we will deliver on the promise of value for the people who receive, provide and pay for health care.”
Both the Advocate and Aurora Boards of Directors approved the plan, announcing the decision to physicians, nurses, associates and caregivers in both organizations today. The merger will build on the 20-year relationship the two health systems have had through the joint ownership and operation of ACL Laboratories.
“Advocate has a well-deserved reputation as a national leader in population health and their value-based approach has led to better outcomes and more affordable health care,” said Aurora Board Chair Joanne Disch. “We share a bold vision for the future as we create a consumer-centric system to improve the quality of life for the diverse communities we serve.” 
“We have a two-decade long relationship with Aurora and have great respect for the clinical and operational expertise that has made them a top tier provider and employer,” said Advocate Board Chair Michele Richardson. “Given our combined strength and stability, fueled by our talented physicians, nurses and staff, we are uniquely positioned to lead change in the health care industry.”
The new organization will operate 27 hospitals, more than 500 sites of care, employ more than 3,300 physicians and nearly 70,000 associates and caregivers. With combined annual revenues of approximately $11 billion, Advocate Aurora Health offers significant resources and the financial flexibility to expand investment and scale innovation.
The agreement includes a plan for a single Board of Directors comprising an equal number of members from Advocate and Aurora, with Skogsbergh and Turkal serving as co-CEOs. Disch will chair the Advocate Aurora Health Board of Directors during the first year of operation and Richardson will assume leadership for the second year. The plan also outlines a unified vision, along with plans to consolidate balance sheets. The Advocate and Aurora names will continue to be used. Each system will maintain its current headquarters.
The agreement is subject to state and federal regulatory review and approval, including the Federal Trade Commission and agencies within Illinois and Wisconsin. Closing is expected by mid-year 2018.