AtlantiCare, Geisinger plan health-care partnership

Posted: November 15, 2013

AtlantiCare, the dominant health-care provider in Atlantic County, has signed a letter of intent to join Geisinger Health System, an integrated health system in rural Pennsylvania known nationally for high quality and low cost, the providers said Wednesday.

AtlantiCare had significant talks with seven health systems to find a partner that would help accelerate its move toward a model emphasizing health management rather than getting paid for discrete episodes of illness, David P. Tilton, AtlantiCare's president and chief executive, said.

"Geisinger just kept rising to the top. They responded so effectively to our inquiries," Tilton said.

Alan Zuckerman, president of Health Strategies & Solutions Inc. of Philadelphia and a national health-care expert, said AtlantiCare and Geisinger were both strong operators and the merger talks were not about immediate financial needs.

"This is a response to health reform and the need to move into a higher level of providing value to your customers and being able to manage population health," Zuckerman said.

Geisinger, based in Danville, Pa., has four acute-care hospitals, a group practice of more than 1,000 physicians, and a health insurance plan with 448,000 members. Geisinger employs 20,800.

Adding AtlantiCare is an opportunity to see "how we can scale and generalize some of our innovations to other markets through other health-care providers," said Frank J. Trembulak, Geisinger's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Trembulak said Geisinger has been predicting consolidation for four or five years. The nonprofit has been doing its part, completing a merger with Lewistown Hospital in Lewistown, Pa., on Nov. 31 and signing a letter of intent with the Sisters of Christian Charity Health Care Corp. in Camp Hill, Pa., in September.


hbrubaker@phillynews.com

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