St. Agnes HealthCare buys 25% of Maryland Physicians Care


January 15, 2000|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

St. Agnes HealthCare announced yesterday that it is joining a partnership with Maryland Physicians Care to provide better service and more choices in primary care doctors for Medicaid patients.

Paying $2.5 million to become a 25 percent shareholder in MPC, Baltimore-based St. Agnes joins Maryland General Health Systems of Baltimore, Washington County Health System of Hagerstown and Western Maryland Health System of Cumberland in the ownership of the managed care organization. MPC currently serves 28,000 Medicaid HealthChoice members in Baltimore and 17 counties.

"When the state moved Medicaid people to managed care organizations two years ago, a number of patients we had been serving for years moved to other plans that were serviced by other hospitals," said Robert W. Adams, president and chief executive officer of St. Agnes HealthCare. "Part of our mission to serve the poor, the disadvantaged and the sick was compromised.

"We felt we needed to reach out and open up access to our communities," Adams added. "Joining MPC was one way of achieving that."

Created in 1997 by the two Western Maryland and Baltimore health systems, MPC is one of eight health plans participating in the Medicaid program. MPC contracts with nearly 1,600 physicians and has administrative offices in Baltimore and Cumberland.

With St. Agnes joining the organization, more than 150 of its primary care physicians in the city, and in Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties will be added to the network.

For MPC, the partnership allows the health plan to expand into a broader geographic area. For example, MPC's current Medicaid members will be able to find a doctor or get neonatal intensive care more easily now in Baltimore.

"This partnership also gives us more influence on health practices in the city," said Eric C. Hunter, chief operating officer of MPC. "We've got all kinds of plans not just to provide the basic health care, but to do above and beyond what we're required to do by law.

"Being owned by community-based entities gives us more flexibility to do that," Hunter said.

Hunter said working with St. Agnes will allow MPC to bring more preventive health care measures to the city such as health fairs, dental education lessons for elementary school students and smoking cessation programs for the community.

"MPC has developed, and continues to develop, a superb reputation through the quality care its physicians and hospitals provide, and through its innovative, creative outreach programs," Adams said. "St. Agnes and the physicians and other providers associated with our hospital look forward to our association with Maryland Physicians Care."

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