Healthcare Business News

UnitedHealth to acquire Monarch HealthCare

By Gregg Blesch
Posted: August 31, 2011 - 4:30 pm ET

UnitedHealth Group has reached an agreement to acquire the management arm of an independent practice association that includes about 2,300 physicians in Southern California.

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Larry Renfro, CEO of Optum, UnitedHealth's health services division, confirmed in an e-mailed statement that the company planned to buy the operations of Irvine, Calif.-based Monarch HealthCare. “Optum shares Monarch HealthCare's commitment to bringing patients, physicians, hospitals and healthcare payers closer together in the mission to increase the quality and affordability of care,” Renfro said in the statement.

The companies did not disclose terms of the deal, which is another sign that payers are keenly interested in forging closer ties to providers as the healthcare reform law fuels the trend toward integration and consolidation among physicians and hospitals.

Dr. Bart Asner, Monarch's CEO, described the agreement in an e-mailed statement as "a strategic relationship with Optum to support our physicians in providing high-quality, cost-effective patient care in Orange County, Calif."

Optum's plans come on the heels of WellPoint completing its purchase of CareMore, a Medicare Advantage company that the national Blues insurer was attracted to because of its network of clinics in Arizona, California and Nevada.

Monarch, meanwhile, has been working with WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross of California on an accountable care organization as a pilot site of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution.

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