Beaumont, Spectrum Health plan mega hospital merger

Two Goliaths in Michigan health care — Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health — announced Thursday they’ve signed a letter of intent to unite, forming a new, massive health system that would employ 64,000 people and operate 22 hospitals spanning the state. 

The deal is to include Priority Health, an insurance plan that enrolls 1.2 million people under the Spectrum Health umbrella and claims to be the fastest growing and second largest in Michigan. 

“We are — Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health — taking the next step in our bold vision to transform health in Michigan,” said Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health, who also will lead the new health care organization if the pact is completed.

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“What we’ve been through collectively in our state and our country over the past year has really solidified why we exist and what we do. And it also tells us what we can do even better. So it is with this in mind that we are really excited about the opportunity to bring together Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health. … We are coming together for Michigan by Michigan to improve the health of our community.”

The new health system, which would be Michigan’s largest, is to be called the BHSH System temporarily, Freese Decker said. 

“We’re going to take our time to figure out what that new name is while honoring and respecting the legacy names,” she said.

An exterior view of Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

If the plan passes regulatory reviews, the BHSH System is to have dual headquarters in Grand Rapids and Southfield.

The Federal Trade Commission reviews mergers of hospitals and physician groups to uphold antitrust laws, encouraging competition to drive down costs, improve care and foster innovation. The Department of Justice similarly reviews mergers of insurance plans.

Both federal agencies have ruled against mergers in the recent past. In 2020, the FTC challenged at least five such deals, Becker’s Hospital Review reported.