4 health systems hit with rating downgrades

Here is a summary of recent credit rating downgrades, going back to the last Becker's roundup on Jan. 17.

Operating concerns and a bleak financial outlook for some resulted in the following changes:

Geisinger Health System (Danville, Pa.): Moody's Investors Service downgraded Geisinger Health System's outstanding bonds from "A1" to "A2" Feb. 13 amid expectations of continued cash flow weakness. 

The outlook for the system, which has about $1.3 billion in debt, is stable. 

Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System:  The system suffered a credit downgrade because of recent operating losses and amid expectations of no immediate financial improvement.

The S&P Global move Feb. 7 to downgrade the system to "BBB+" from "A-" follows a similar move from Fitch Jan. 18.

Marshfield signed a memorandum of understanding with Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health to discuss a potential merger Oct. 12 that would include 25 hospitals.

Tower Health (West Reading, Pa.): Troubled Tower Health, which is currently undergoing a strategic review and selling off several assets, suffered a rating downgrade on its bonds, S&P Global reported Feb. 6, adding that the outlook is negative.

"The downgrade reflects Tower Health's significant ongoing operating losses that are expected to continue in fiscal 2023, and a steep decline in unrestricted reserves to a level that we view as highly vulnerable," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Anne Cosgrove.

Fairview Health (Minneapolis): Moody's Investors Service downgraded the revenue bond ratings of Fairview Health from "A3" to "Baa1." 

The downgrade reflects Moody's projection that weak operating performance will be challenging to overcome due to increased labor costs and lower inpatient volume. Inflation and annual transfers to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis will also hamper margins, Moody's said.

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