ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Nov. 11, 2013) – Lovelace Health System (LHS) today announced it has reached definitive agreements for Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), through its affiliate Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM), to acquire Lovelace Health Plan (LHP). The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, is anticipated to close approximately Dec. 31. LHP currently serves 108,000 members in New Mexico.
Additionally, LHS and BCBSNM have agreed to a long term provider agreement that will allow LHP members a seamless transition and ensure continuity of members’ care. Under the agreement, LHP members will continue to have access to the physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and services of the current Lovelace provider network. We anticipate that many LHP members will gain access to BCBSNM’s large network of providers and hospitals.
“After careful consideration, Lovelace Health System made the strategic decision to focus on growing its primary, specialty and acute care services, providing greater access to high-quality and compassionate care throughout the region,” said Ron Stern, Lovelace Health System president and CEO. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a proven, trusted and local partner, and we are confident this is the right option for our patients and health plan members.”
No member’s care will be interrupted during this transition. Members of LHP’s commercial plans will have the opportunity to transition to comparable BCBSNM products. In addition, current Lovelace Medicare Plan members will experience no changes to their benefits throughout 2013. Medicare plan members who remain with Lovelace during the 2013 open enrollment period will see enhanced benefits in 2014. Upon completion of the transaction BCBSNM will honor those benefits and members will also gain access to ABQ Health Partners physicians.
LHP members do not need to take any action pertaining to their health insurance coverage at this time. LHP and Blue Cross and Blue Shield are committed to ensuring a smooth transition process for members and their families and will be communicating directly with members in the coming days and weeks ahead to insure a seamless transition.
The transactions are the logical next step after LHP was not chosen to remain part of the New Mexico Medicaid managed care program, Centennial Care, which occurred earlier this year. LHP lost 84,000 members when they were not chosen as one of the final Centennial Care organizations and thereafter transferred their Medicaid operations to Molina early this summer.
It is too early to speculate how the transactions, which are currently subject to regulatory review and approval, may impact LHP’s approximately 350 employees. Lovelace will work closely with BCBSNM and other organizations to provide job placement assistance, as well as giving priority consideration to these employees for open positions within Lovelace Health System.
“Lovelace Health Plan is comprised of a talented team of professionals whose skills are in great demand, and we will do everything possible to minimize the number of affected individuals,” Stern said. “While this is a difficult decision and one we did not foresee making, we believe it is necessary to ensure the long-term financial health of our system.”
It is not anticipated that the LHS provider operations and facilities will be impacted by the transactions, and efforts are already underway to continue expanding the system’s network of physicians. During the past year, Lovelace Health System has added more than 70 providers to the Lovelace Medical Group and invested $18 million in new equipment, programs and services throughout the system.
Lovelace Health System consists of Lovelace Medical Center, Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital, Lovelace Women’s Hospital, Lovelace Westside Hospital, Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center, Lovelace Regional Hospital – Roswell, Lovelace Medical Group, Southwest Medical Associates and 11 retail pharmacy locations in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe.