S&P Global Ratings has affirmed the credit rating assigned to MaineHealth, northern New England’s largest healthcare system.
The agency affirmed its A+ rating with an outlook of “stable.” This is unchanged from the previous year.
“Given the uncertainty in the healthcare industry overall, including the mounting challenges to health care in rural states like Maine, and our announcement last fall of plans to invest $512 million in new facilities at Maine Medical Center, we were very pleased to see S&P maintain our strong credit rating,” said Albert G. Swallow, Executive Vice President and Treasurer of MaineHealth.
MaineHealth has member healthcare organizations serving patients in southern, central, coastal and western Maine as well as Carroll County, N.H. All told, 1.1 million people reside in the area served by MaineHealth.
In its report, S&P Global noted the consistent growth in the system’s operating margins as well as the organization’s relatively low debt levels and healthy reserves. The report singled out the performance of the system’s flagship hospital, Maine Medical Center in Portland, noting it is seeing growing demand and posting strong financial results. S&P also noted the work being done across the MaineHealth system to integrate its services and align members in ways that should result in financial and clinical improvement.
S&P said that MaineHealth’s upcoming borrowing plans, including funding for a much-needed expansion and renovation project at Maine Medical Center, have not negatively impacted the credit worthiness of the organization, but it did say it would continue to monitor the impact of future borrowing on the organization’s finances.
“Clearly, our work together as members within a system has a lot to do with our growing financial strength,” said Swallow.
Swallow noted that MaineHealth members are currently engaged in conversation over how they can optimize the system’s structure by creating a single budget and balance sheet overseen by a system-wide board of trustees.
“Hopefully these conversations will lead to a refinement of our governance and operating models so that we can fully leverage our $2.2 billion system while retaining local decision-making over the care delivered in our communities,” said Swallow.