Ascension vs. CommonSpirit vs. Trinity: How the 3 largest nonprofit systems' finances compare

The largest nonprofit health systems, Ascension, CommonSpirit Health and Trinity Health, reported net losses in the three months ended Sept. 30 compared to net incomes in the same period a year earlier.

Here's how the three systems' finances fared in the third quarter, according to financial documents:

1. St. Louis-based Ascension, a 144-hospital system, reported an operating loss of $118.6 million in the third quarter compared to an operating gain of $24.9 million in the same period last year. Third-quarter operating revenue hit $7.2 billion and operating expenses were $7.3 billion, both increasing from about $6.9 billion in the third quarter of last year. However, for the same period, it posted a $790.4 million loss on investments, down from a gain of $79.7 million in 2021. After factoring in nonoperating items, Ascension posted a net loss of $811 billion for the three months ended Sept. 30. A year earlier, it posted a net income of $80.4 million. 

2. CommonSpirit Health, a 140-hospital system based in Chicago, posted $23 million income for the three months ending Sept. 30, down from $34 million over the same period in 2021. However, CommonSpirit received $325 million as part of the California provider fee program under the CMS-approved state plan amendment; after normalizing for the program, it reported a $227 million loss for the quarter. CommonSpirit's quarterly operating revenue hit $8.53 billion. Salaries and benefits expenses increased 5.1 percent to $4.5 billion for the quarter due to high registry and contract labor as well as overtime, premium pay and inflation.

3. Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, an 89-hospital system, reported $550.9 million net loss for the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to $398.4 million net income in the same period last year. Revenue for the period increased slightly to $5 billion after Trinity acquired the remaining stake in Iowa-based MercyOne from CommonSpirit. The transaction closed on Sept. 1 and added $126.2 million operating revenue to the quarter. Excluding MercyOne, Trinity's revenue dropped $89.9 million compared to the same period last year. Third-quarter operating expenses rose almost 6 percent year over year to $5.2 billion, including a 5.8 percent increase in salary rates. Contract labor decreased $1 million during the quarter due to the MercyOne acquisition.

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