Two of Texas’s major not-for-profit health systems announced Oct. 1 plans to merge, creating one system that covers over 30 Texas counties and currently employs over 73,000 people, according to a news release.

Baylor Scott & White Health and Memorial Hermann Health System have entered a stage of exclusive negotiations and regulatory review and an official agreement will be reached by 2019, the release stated.

The two systems collectively operate 68 hospitals, 1,100 clinics and two health plans throughout Dallas, Houston and Central Texas.

Memorial Hermann Health System president and CEO Chuck Stokes said combining efforts of two health systems with similar missions will help patients and health plan enrollees receive better, more affordable care.

“Together, we believe we will be able to accelerate our commitments to make care more consumer centric; grow our capabilities to manage the health of populations; and bend the unsustainable healthcare cost curve in the state,” Stokes said in the release.

By the closing of the final agreement, the two health systems will operate under a new name that has yet to be determined however individual locations throughout Texas will continue to operate under their current names.

Baylor Scott & White CEO Jim Hinton will join Stokes as a combined executive leadership team along with other executives from each health system.

Details of the letter of intent for the merge include a combined board of directors for the health system with an equal number of appointees from each health system. The current board chair of Baylor Scott & White Health’s board of directors, Ross McKnight, will become chair of the new combined board and a vice chair will be appointed by the current Memorial Hermann Health System Board of Directors.

McKnight said the merge could serve as a model for not-for-profit health systems seeking to keep health care costs affordable.

“This proposed combination starts the next chapter in the legacies of service and innovation for both systems,” McKnight said. “It will not only make a positive difference in the lives of millions here, it will become a national model.”