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HealthPartners sold; layoffs possible

DAVID PITTMAN and LORRIE COHEN Citizen Staff Writers

There could be job layoffs coming at HealthPartners of Arizona, which will be sold to United HealthCare Services, a Minneapolis-based company.

The sale was announced in a statement late yesterday from both companies. Cost of the transaction was not disclosed, but a high-ranking HealthPartners official said it was $235 million.

HealthPartners of Arizona, a holding company, is owned by TMC HealthCare, Samaritan Health System and the Southern Arizona Independent Physicians Trust.

Phil Soucheray, manager of media and public relations for United HealthCare, said, ”There is a possibility that with the combination there will be layoffs. We don’t know yet. We are going to take this up in timely consideration with employees that might be affected.”

The sale includes the following HealthPartners subsidiaries: HealthPartners Health Plans; Arizona Physicians, the largest HMO in the state’s indigent health-care system; HealthPartners Administrators; and HealthPartners Insurance Co.

HealthPartners of Arizona is the fastest-growing managed-care company in the state. It serves 520,000 people in Arizona.

Soucheray said United HealthCare, one of the largest HMOs in the country, already has 160,000 Arizona members.

Officials of United HealthCare Corp. said they will continue building the Arizona client base.

”We have the resources to sustain the plan’s rapid growth and invest in improved systems and infrastructure,” said Jeannine Rivet, chief executive officer of United HealthCare.

Owners of the Arizona HMO cited the strong strategic and philosophical fit between the companies.

”We considered factors including commitment to quality, continuity of HealthPartners’ provider networks, local management, community involvement, competitive pricing, innovative products and customer service before selecting United HealthCare,” said Dr. Darrell Thorpe, president and CEO of TMC HealthCare.

James C. Crews, president and CEO of Samaritan Health System and HealthPartners, predicted the transition would be smooth and said customers would continue receiving ”the same high level” of service.


HealthPartners of Arizona

• Headquarters: Tucson, Phoenix

• Members: 520,000

• Doctors in network: 4,000

• Employees: 1,100

• Revenues ’97: $666.5 million

United HealthCare

• Headquarters: Minneapolis

• Members: 13 million

• Doctors in network: 262,000

• Employees: 30,000

• Revenues ’97: $12 billion

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