The prestigious Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., finally is getting close to being out of the managed-care business.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire last week agreed to acquire Matthew Thornton Health Plan of Bedford, N.H., for $46.5 million. Dartmouth-Hitchcock owns Matthew Thornton.
The deal would add 155,000 covered lives to the 264,000 the Blues already has in the state.
Structured as a merger, the transaction between the not-for-profit insurers is expected to close by Nov. 1. The insurers filed their merger agreement last week with the New Hampshire insurance department, which must approve the transaction.
Also, the board of Dartmouth-Hitchcock must sign off on the deal, which is expected to happen in a vote scheduled later this month, the insurers said.
The merger announcement came only a month after Brookline, Mass.-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care's $75 million bid for Matthew Thornton collapsed. As part of the break-up, both HMOs agreed to keep mum about why it unraveled.
Whatever the reasons, the recent bust-up marked Harvard Pilgrim's second failed bid for Matthew Thornton in three years (Aug. 4, p. 18).
When Harvard Pilgrim's deal fizzled, it didn't derail Matthew Thornton's plan to sell out.
Suitors that lost out in previous bids, including the Manchester-based New Hampshire Blues and Tufts Health Plan, Waltham, Mass., reaffirmed their desire to buy Matthew Thornton.
"There was interest then, and the interest remained," said Tricia Lederer, a spokeswoman for Matthew Thornton. "People didn't assume the Harvard deal would go through," she said, which helped explain why the Blues bid moved so quickly.
Details of the merger have yet to be determined, Lederer said. Specifically, no decisions have been made about layoffs, management changes or integration of product lines.
But Michael Autrey, a consultant with the Pace Group and interim president of Matthew Thornton, will not stay on, Lederer said.