Impact of Family Health Plan sale will be significant - The Business Journal of Milwaukee: Page 1 of 2
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Friday, May 5, 2000
Impact of Family Health Plan sale will be significant
The Business Journal of Milwaukee - by Julie Sneider
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The sale of Family Health Plan Cooperative could be a boon for Wisconsin's charities, but a bust for the state's consumers. Proceeds from the sale of Family Health Plan Cooperative, Milwaukee's only nonprofit HMO, will have to go to a charity or charities. But how much might be paid out and which charities might benefit haven't been decided. The sale also will result in a shrinking HMO field in Wisconsin, and the diminished competition could cause HMO premiums to continue to rise. The fate of the charitable proceeds and the impact on the local HMO market are two of the many uncertainties raised by the pending sale of Family Health Plan, one of the oldest health maintenance organizations in Wisconsin and the only "cooperative sickness plan" in the Milwaukee area.
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On April 26, Family and its management firm, Family Health Systems, signed a letter of intent to sell the insurance and health care delivery operations to United Wisconsin Services Inc., a Milwaukee managed care company, and Wheaton Franciscan Services Inc., the Wheaton, Ill.-based health care system and parent of Covenant Healthcare System Inc. in Milwaukee. Officials at United Wisconsin, Wheaton and Covenant declined to discuss details of the proposal. In general, the plan calls for United Wisconsin Services to acquire Family's insurance business and for Wheaton and Covenant to take over operation of Family's seven clinics, the 75-member physician group and the SurgiCenter of Greater Milwaukee. Although Wheaton and Covenant would operate the clinics, they would not own clinic properties, which were acquired by a California real estate investment trust (REIT) more than a year ago. The agreement would bring together two of the state's larger HMOs: United Wisconsin is the publicly traded arm of Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin and the parent of CompcareBlue, a Milwaukee HMO. All parties said they anticipate closing the sale in the third quarter of the year. However, the sale of Family Health Plan will require a more involved approval process than most HMO mergers in Wisconsin because it is organized under state law as a cooperative.
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