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Moody’s affirms Ballad Health credit rating
Issues “Positive” Outlook
Against the backdrop of 30 health system credit downgrades by the various credit rating agencies over the past six months, Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its Baa1 revenue bond rating with a positive outlook for Ballad Health. This follows affirmation of Ballad Health’s "A-" credit rating by Standard and Poor’s in November 2019. Ballad Health released its second quarter results earlier this week which showed increased access to new providers, cost savings for patients, taxpayers and employers and continued stable financial performance in the face of significant challenges.
“With such serious headwinds for non-urban and rural health systems, we are proud that Moody’s has recognized the hard work of our board, our team members and our physicians as we seek to deliver high quality care at a lower cost,“ said Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine.
“With more than 600 rural hospitals at risk of closure in the United States, and the ongoing challenges that disproportionally affect non-urban and rural hospitals, the credit rating agencies have seen that our disciplined approach and willingness to adapt to this environment are bringing stability to hospitals in our region. Less than 25% of our patient volume is commercially insured, while more than 70% is uninsured, or covered by government programs that pay less than the cost of providing care. And with many of our commercially-insured patients carrying the burden of high-deductible plans, this means we have to remain focused on reducing cost while delivering high-quality care. Moody's recognizing this challenge and standing by its outlook is something our region should be proud of, especially given the trend of downgrades in the last six months.”
Ballad Health has been cited nationally by the nation’s largest commercial and Medicare health insurer and Harvard University as one of four health systems delivering on the movement toward value-based care. Additionally, Ballad Health has saved taxpayers more than $50 million through its efforts in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, while also delivering quality scores of 94.4% - the highest in its partnership with Medicare.
While Ballad Health’s efforts to reduce lower-acuity admissions and reduce costs have been recognized nationally, these efforts also have the effect of reducing revenue growth for Ballad Health. In its announcement, Moody’s recognizes this challenge as it predicts moderated performance going forward as Ballad Health continues to lead nationally in the movement toward value-based care.
Levine serves on the CEO Executive Forum of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, along with notable private and public sector leaders in healthcare at the federal level. In his role, Levine has committed Ballad Health nationally to lead in the pledge to bring accountability to the industry for movement toward value-based care. For more information on HCLAN, see https://hcp-lan.org/.
“Ballad Health is grateful that Moody’s recognizes the challenges created by doing the right thing to reduce costs should not inhibit strong credit ratings,” said Ballad Health Lead Independent Director David Lester.
"Ballad Health is committed to reducing costs in healthcare, delivering high-quality care to our neighbors, and being a responsible steward of healthcare assets. As the industry adapts to this 'new normal', it is critical for all to understand that non-urban and rural communities face unique challenges in this shift to value-based care. Ballad Health will continue to lead, but will also advocate for payment models that reward responsible behavior. Failure to do this will lead to an acceleration in rural hospital closings, and this is something Ballad Health has led in trying to circumvent.”