Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2018
Melanie Evans

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It isn't just the Federal Trade Commission scrutinizing U.S. health-care mergers these days. The Vatican is watching, too.

Some of the biggest recent deals involve nonprofit hospitals affiliated with the Catholic Church, which make up about 8% of U.S. hospitals. Many began as small institutions founded by nuns more than a century ago. But as they have combined and grown into large corporations, they are posing new moral quandaries for church officials, who have a say in which mergers go ahead.

A proposed union between Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health would create one of the largest U.S. hospital owners , with $28 billion in annual revenue--exceeding that of McDonald's Corp., Kraft Heinz Co. or Qualcomm Inc.

The deal won clearance from several congregations of nuns and two archbishops. But daunted by the merger's complexity, the archbishops in December also agreed to seek a review by a higher authority: the Vatican, which has the ultimate authority to reject or modify deals.

"They need to know what's going on" in Rome as U.S. health care consolidates, said Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who requested the Vatican review. No decision has been made yet. [...]

abortion bioethics conscience contraception market regulation religion