Catholic Health Initiatives Announces Deal to Buy QualChoice Holdings

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014 3:12 pm  

Mike Stock, CEO of QualChoice Holdings Inc. of Little Rock. (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

Catholic Health Initiatives announced Wednesday that its subsidiary, Collab Health, has entered a stock-purchase agreement to buy health insurance carrier QualChoice Holdings Inc. of Little Rock.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The deal is subject to final approval from the Arkansas Insurance Department.

CHI said it doesn't expect any immediate changes for QualChoice's operations, and no changes will occur in provider network participation by any QualChoice provider investors.

Arkansas Business first reported in January that the two were in talks. Last month, sources said the deal was "close."

Catholic Health Initiatives is the parent company of St. Vincent Health System of Little Rock. St. Vincent has been a shareholder in QualChoice since 1999. Other shareholders include Arkansas Children's Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and TriZetto Corp.

QualChoice is the third-largest Arkansas-based health insurance company, writing $148.9 million in Arkansas premiums in 2012, according to an Arkansas Business list published in September

"CHI, through St. Vincent Health System, has been a partner with QualChoice since our inception and we are excited to now be a part of a national organization of such high quality," Mike Stock, CEO of QualChoice Holdings, said in a news release. "We have always had an excellent relationship with St. Vincent and look forward to working as part of Catholic Health Initiatives in the future."

Juan Serrano, CHI's senior vice president of payer strategy and operations, said the QualChoice deal is "integral" to its population health strategies.

"We regard Arkansas as a fantastic place to develop our health insurance capabilities as we strive to better serve communities here and across the nation," Serrano said.

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford has said he would fast track the regulatory filings required for the deal's approval. He also said that he expects QualChoice to sell insurance in other states because CHI is "such a big company."

"Catholic Health Initiatives has tremendous financial capacity, and it's going to really enhance the ability of QualChoice to write coverage for Arkansans," Bradford told Arkansas Business in January.

Catholic Health Initiatives of Denver is a national, nonprofit health system. It is one of the nation's largest, operating 87 hospitals in 18 states. On Tuesday, CHI announced that it had completed the purchase of Mercy Hot Springs, a 282-bed hospital with 2,000 employees. St. Vincent will operate the hospital under the name St. Vincent Hot Springs.



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