Healthcare Business News

Regional News/West: Montana Blues seek approval for merger with Health Care Service Corp., and other news

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 24, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

HELENA, Mont.—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana has filed for regulatory approval for its proposed deal with Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in four other states. The insurer said in a news release that it submitted paperwork to the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance as well as the Montana attorney general. Under the transaction, the companies will contribute about $120 million to set up a charitable foundation focused on improving quality and access to healthcare programs in Montana. Health Care Service Corp. will spend about $18 million to acquire some of the assets of Montana Blues and will assume certain liabilities. Montana Blues will contribute its remaining assets, valued at about $100 million. Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp. operates Blues plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It plans to retain all of the employees of Montana Blues, which will continue to operate under its not-for-profit status, according to the release. The companies announced their deal in September. At the time, a spokesman for Health Care Service Corp. said he expected a late spring or early summer deal closing.

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ASHLAND, Ore.—Ashland Community Hospital reached a tentative deal with a new potential partner weeks after it was announced that the hospital had ended talks to be acquired by San Francisco-based Dignity Health. Ashland Community is in talks with Asante, a Medford, Ore.-based system that operates 307-bed Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, about 13 miles north of Ashland, and 107-bed Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass, Ore. Ashland Community said in a news release that Asante was a finalist in a 2011 search for a partner, as was Providence Health & Services, which owns 134-bed Providence Medford Medical Center. The structure and financial terms of the proposed deal with Asante were not disclosed. “Asante offered a structured merger that is a better fit and will resolve our debt issues faster,” Ashland Community board chairman Doug Gentry said in the release. “Asante has significant strength in the local market and a commitment to clinical excellence. The board appreciates their commitment to maintain Ashland Community Hospital as a viable hospital with the support of their strong financial position.” Ashland Community Hospital lost money in four of the past five years through 2011, with a margin of negative 4.57% for 2011, according to the 2012 Oregon Community Hospital report. After conducting due diligence, Gentry said, hospital leaders would seek approval on legal documents by the Ashland City Council. The hospital leases its property from the city.

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