Fitch Ratings last week affirmed its AA-minus on $1.8 billion of debt held by Catholic Health Partners, Ohio’s largest health care system.

Fitch also affirmed its stable outlook on the system’s debt, most of which has been issued by Allen and Lorrain counties in Ohio and Knox County Health, Educational & Housing Facility Board in Tenn. The ratings agency maintained its F1-plus short-term rating on $100 million of 2012 bonds that are supported by the system’s internal liquidity.

CHP includes more than 100 facilities, including 24 acute-care hospitals and 14 long-term care facilities.

“The AA-minus rating reflects CHP’s broad operating footprint, solid operating profitability, elevated debt burden and adequate liquidity metrics,” Fitch said in the ratings report. “The stable outlook is based upon Fitch’s expectation that CHP will maintain its operating performance while generating steady improvements in liquidity and debt metrics.”

The system’s operating profitability is consistent with the ratings category and it has adequate liquidity, Fitch said. CHP’s debt burden, however, is considered high, with maximum annual debt service equal to 3.6% of revenue.

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