Moody's affirms Ascension Health Alliance's ratings

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed St. Louis-based Ascension Health Alliance's Aa2, Aa2/VMIG 1 and Aa2/P-1 senior ratings, Aa3 and Aa3/VMIG 1 subordinated ratings and P-1 CP rating, affecting $5 billion of debt.

The affirmation was supported by a number of factors, including $20 billion in total operating revenues, a nearly fully funded pension plan and a large portfolio of sizable hospitals and non-acute care business lines that provide geographic and operating diversity.

The system's challenges include competition in most markets and moderate operating margins (even with recent improvement) suppressed by significant investments in a major enterprise resource project called "Symphony."

The outlook is stable.

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