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Catholic Health Partners to acquire Kaiser Permanente Ohio

Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, the largest health system in Ohio, has agreed to acquire Kaiser Permanente Ohio.

Kaiser Permanente Ohio, which employs about 1,600 people and is the smallest of the enterprises across the country run by health care juggernaut Kaiser Permanente, said in a news release it was choosing to transition its health plan and healthcare operations to Catholic Health Partners “after careful consideration of patient needs and the state's changing health care environment.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the news release issued by both organizations said several steps, including regulatory approval, must be taken over the coming months before the deal is finalized. The resulting organization would continue to provide care for more than 80,000 members enrolled in Kaiser Permanente Ohio's health plan.

Officials said it was too early to say whether the pending deal would result in layoffs.

“Catholic Health Partners' mission is closely aligned with ours, as they, too, are dedicated to delivering high-quality, affordable care for their patients while providing tangible benefits to the communities they serve,” said Patricia D. Kennedy-Scott, regional president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio, in the release. “As a statewide organization, CHP possesses unique advantages, including the presence in Ohio, scale, and a track record of quality and cost-effectiveness needed to perpetuate our legacy and care for our members.”

As part of the deal, Catholic Health Partners said it would acquire Kaiser Permanente's health plan but not Ohio Permanente Medical Group, which employs more than 200 physicians and allied health professionals who exclusively care for those enrolled in Kaiser's benefits offerings. Instead, Catholic Health Partners will offer employment to all the medical group's employees, said Liz Vogel, Catholic Health Partners' director of public relations.

Ms. Vogel said the newly formed organization would be re-branded once the acquisition was complete, though it was too early say what its name might be.

Summa was health giant's first big deal in '13

Nancy Paton, Kaiser Permanente Ohio's chief public affairs officer, characterized the announcement as “really great news” for the health plan's members given that they'll receive care under the purview of the state's largest health system.

“What's really great with CHP is their mission and their dedication to integrated care matches completely our mission and our approach,” Paton said.

The planned deal is poised to be Catholic Health Partners' second big play in Northeast Ohio this year. In late February, Catholic Health Partners announced plans to buy roughly a third of Summa Health System, a $1.4 billion medical enterprise in Akron. In announcing that deal, both organizations stressed their forays into population health management, something Kaiser Permanente has stressed for years.

Catholic Health Partners already has a peppered presence in Northern Ohio, with community hospitals in Lorain, Lima, Toledo, Warren and Youngstown. In all, the health system employs more than 33,000 and operates more than 250 health care facilities, including 24 hospitals.

The health system in recent years has focused on its efforts in Ohio, though it still operates facilities in Kentucky. In 2011, Catholic Health Partners shed its assets in Pennsylvania and Tennessee by selling off nearly one-third of its hospitals to for-profit operators.

In announcing its agreement with Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Partners president and CEO Michael D. Connelly said in the joint release, “This opportunity interests us because it preserves a values-based, patient-centered care model that we can expand throughout the region. Additionally, it enables us to focus on enhancing quality, improving access to health care, and effectively managing costs.”

Catholic Health Partners to acquire Kaiser Permanente Ohio originally appeared on the Crain's Cleveland Business website.



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