CHICAGO - Increasing consolidation of the health care market may strengthen hospital debt but it may also pose a danger to hospitals that fail to join health care networks, health care officials said last week.

When health care institutions merge, their financial position becomes stronger, which can bolster an institution's outstanding debt, said Emmeline Rocha-Sinha, vice president and manager of the health care department at Municipal Bond Investors Assurance Corp., at the Bond Buyer Midwest Public Finance Conference in Chicago on Thursday.

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