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The nation’s largest Catholic hospital system, a sprawling behemoth of more than 140 hospitals called Ascension, is quietly building an unprecedented and strikingly unusual $1 billion private equity operation, using its wealth to invest like a Wall Street firm, a STAT investigation has found.

Rather than passively investing in private equity funds, the practice of several major nonprofit hospitals, Ascension has over the past six years actively made investment decisions to play the private equity game itself, for profit.


STAT constructed a portrait of Ascension’s unconventional private equity investment activities based on interviews with nearly two dozen academic experts, financial analysts, accountants, and community organizers and a review of more than 3,500 pages of financial disclosures, lawsuits, and previously undisclosed internal financial documents.

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