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Pennsylvania health system said to be pondering merger

Washington (Pa.) Health System — one of only three independent health systems in the Pittsburgh area — may be considering a merger, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported March 28. 

The health system is involved in merger negotiations with Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health and other large health systems, according to three sources described by the newspaper as "people with knowledge of the negotiations" who were "not authorized to speak publicly about them." 

The newspaper suggests that a partnership or acquisition is not unlikely. Highmark Health and Hershey, Pa.-based Penn State Health signed a strategic partnership in 2017, including a commitment for a shared $1 billion investment in a community health network. And Highmark's Allegheny Health Network currently owns Canonsburg (Pa.) Hospital, six miles from Washington Hospital.

Furthermore, Washington Health System has no bond debt, which is a favorable trait for potential acquirers. 

"We are routinely engaging in discussions with independent providers in the region about how we can work together to better meet the healthcare needs of the community," Highmark Health spokesperson Dan Laurent told the newspaper. 

Washington Health System and UPMC — which collaborates with the independent system to provide cancer care — both declined to comment on the newspaper's story. 

Becker's also reached out to Washington Health System. A representative declined to comment on the article. 

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