Nearly a year after calling off a merger with another trade group, the American Group Practice Association is negotiating with the Seal Beach, Calif.-based Unified Medical Group Association, sources familiar with the groups confirmed last week.
The AGPA represents about 250 mostly large group practices nationwide, while the UMGA represents about 90 prepaid groups, primarily in California. One-third of UMGA members belong to the AGPA.
Donald Fisher, the AGPA's executive vice president and chief executive officer, confirmed that the groups were talking. However, Fisher said, the goals of the negotiations are much more modest this time around.
Last year, the AGPA was close to merging with the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association, which represents 5,900 small to mid-sized groups. But just days before the groups were scheduled to bring an agreement before their respective boards, the deal collapsed because they could not agree on a governance structure (April 25, 1994, p. 3). They blamed a stalemate over how many seats each would have on the new governing board.
"Last year our stated goal in meeting with the MGMA was to have a single entity," Fisher said. "We are a long way from that point now."
He added that the groups "first want to see if we can work together to share some products and services," then move toward a merger if that proves successful.
UMGA Executive Director James Hillman could not be reached for comment.
A merger would unite the lobbying force and medical prestige of the AGPA with the managed-care savvy and research capabilities of the UMGA. Some of the UMGA's members-such as Mullikin Medical Centers, Long Beach, Calif., and Friendly Hills Health Network, La Habra, Calif.-have flourished under capitated payment systems.