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Highmark makes $275M deal with western Pa. health network

By , - Last modified: June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Health insurer Highmark Inc., the Pittsburgh-based parent company of Highmark Blue Shield in Cumberland County, has entered into a “strategic partnership” with the Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Allegheny County.

Highmark plans to invest $75 million in the medical center's foundation and assume up to $200 million of Jefferson's debts and long-term obligations.

The deal, which should be completed by year's end, also includes planned upgrades to the emergency department at the Bethel Park Campus and expanded clinical services such as neurosurgery and gynecology.

The alliance was announced Tuesday.

"Highmark and Jefferson are pursuing a strategic partnership to establish Jefferson as the southern hub of Highmark's new integrated delivery and financing health care system and to expand key clinical services to the southern region of greater Pittsburgh," said Aaron Billger, a Highmark spokesman. "Highmark will work collaboratively with Jefferson to support the health system's medical staff, provide health and wellness services in the community and promote the Jefferson brand."

The goal is to deliver a better patient experience while controlling the cost of medical care and producing good patient outcomes, Billger said.

Jefferson operates in 14 community-based locations throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.

The deal must be approved by the state Attorney General and Allegheny County Orphan's Court.

Highmark also has a proposed affiliation with West Penn Allegheny Health System. That $475 million deal will become an acquisition for the insurer if state regulators approve it.

"While Highmark retains a very strong provider network in Central Pennsylvania, there are no partnerships of this nature at this time," Billger said.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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