EVERGREEN PARK, Ill.—The board of directors of 294-bed Little Company of Mary Hospital voted to move forward with plans to build a new pavilion that will be the centerpiece of plan to modernize the campus just southwest of Chicago. The nine-story addition is designed to include 96 private patient rooms and a women's health center to include labor and delivery suites. The Catholic hospital was established nearly 80 years ago, and the plan also calls for significant renovation of space in an existing pavilion and for the original X-shaped tower to be demolished, making room for green space at the entrance to the new women's center. The project, which was approved in April by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, is expected to cost between $150 million and $175 million, paid for with a mix of bonds, cash and gifts. Groundbreaking is expected in January 2010.
Regionals: BadgerCare Plus Core Plan on hold and more news ...
MADISON, Wis.—Less than four months after launching a health insurance plan for low-income residents during one of the worst recessions in decades, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle suspended enrollment in the program because demand was higher than expected. Since launching the BadgerCare Plus Core Plan on June 15, state officials have received more than 500 applications per day from low-income adults. Program organizers say the plan can afford to cover about 54,000 people, but 60,000 applications have already been received, prompting a decision to place anyone who applied after Oct. 9 on a waiting list. The program is open to adults who do not have dependent children living with them and who earn less than $21,660 for an individual or $29,139 for a couple. Participants cannot have had access to employer-subsidized insurance for at least 12 months prior. A news release from Doyle said demand for the program showed a clear need for healthcare reform at the federal level, adding that BadgerCare and similar programs in other states “are merely bridges to get us to national health reform.” Wisconsin is not the only state struggling to pay for Medicaid programs (Oct. 5, p. 6).
WICHITA, Kan.—Managed-care company Coventry Health Care, Bethesda, Md., said it signed a definitive agreement to purchase Preferred Health Systems, Wichita. The 120,000-member health plan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Via Christi Health System, Wichita. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed, although Coventry said the acquisition would be neutral to earnings in the first year. The deal is expected to close within 90 to 120 days, pending regulatory approvals. The definitive agreement includes a provision for Coventry and Via Christi to partner on innovative services that transform healthcare delivery, Via Christi said. Preferred Health Systems was started in 1993 by local physicians and the two Wichita hospitals that merged to form Via Christi. The Roman Catholic system became the sole owner of Preferred in 1999.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—State regulators approved the acquisition of two-hospital BroMenn Healthcare System, Normal, Ill., by Advocate Health Care, which has nine hospitals in Chicago and its suburbs. Advocate and BroMenn started talks nearly a year ago and recently applied for permission for a change of ownership from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. BroMenn, located in central Illinois about 125 miles from Chicago, would be Advocate's first hospital outside the metropolitan area. According to the filing with the state, Advocate intends to assume all of BroMenn's assets and liabilities with no purchase price, with a planned closing date of Jan. 1, 2010. The state board's staff report says the hospitals have a combined book value of $86 million, though it notes a fair-market-value assessment had not been conducted. BroMenn is made up of 213-bed BroMenn Regional Medical Center; 25-bed Eureka (Ill.) Community Hospital; BroMenn Physicians Management Corp., which comprises 11 practices; and BroMenn Provider Network, a physician-hospital organization. The BroMenn hospitals, for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008, recorded income of $18.9 million on revenue of $186.1 million on their Form 990 filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
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