CHESTERFIELD, MO.— Mercy has signed a letter of intent to make Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Crystal City, Mo., part of the Mercy health system. The deal could be completed in four to six months, officials said. Financial details of the transaction—not specifically referred to as an acquisition in a news release— were not disclosed. The proposal’s terms include a Mercy investment in Jefferson for the purpose of upgrading the 196-bed hospital, expanding facilities and enhancing programs. Jefferson interim CEO Jeff Buck said the hospital had reviewed many proposals and offers since May. “The board of Jefferson Regional sees a partnership with Mercy as a natural progression of their commitment to quality, communitybased care, honoring the intentions of community leaders who founded the hospital in 1957,” Buck said in the release. Mercy officials added that Jefferson’s staff shares Mercy’s culture and principles and that this made the hospital attractive to investors.
OAK BROOK, ILL.— Advocate Health Care is moving ahead with a pair of hospital projects totaling $455 million in Chicago and in south suburban Oak Lawn as the hospital network looks to tap record-low interest rates. In Oak Lawn, Advocate proposes a nine-story patient tower and 1,000-car garage on the campus of Advocate Christ Medical Center. Meanwhile, on Chicago’s North Side, the not-for-profit healthcare system with $4.4 billion in revenue is planning a three-story Center for Advanced Care at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. The roughly 140,000-square-foot building would treat outpatients with digestive diseases and cancer, among other illnesses. Advocate’s plans are outlined in a pair of applications filed with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which regulates medical construction to avoid duplication of services. Both projects would be financed with debt accounting for about 61% of the projects’ combined costs. The remaining tabs would be paid with cash and securities.
—Crain’s Chicago Business
SPRINGFIELD, ILL.— Illinois is looking for a company to build its health insurance exchange even though it likely won’t operate independently of the federal government until 2015. The Illinois Department of Insurance has asked for proposals from vendors to set up, operate and maintain the computer infrastructure for the insurance exchange. The system must meet federal requirements and integrate “seamlessly” with the state’s Medicaid system; bids are due Aug. 30. The department also is searching for three information technology professionals to help with the exchange who will report to the insurance department’s IT project manager. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that states develop exchanges where consumers and small businesses can buy health insurance from private carriers, among others. The state-level exchanges are intended to satisfy two key requirements of the federal law. They would be markets where individuals and small employers could satisfy the mandate to buy insurance, but the law would also guarantee that insurance companies would sell policies to most people who apply. Because the Illinois General Assembly has not passed legislation to establish an exchange and Gov. Patrick Quinn has not established an outline for one through executive order, Illinois’ exchange will be run jointly by the state and federal governments starting Jan. 1, 2014. About 337,000 people are expected to buy health insurance through the exchange in 2014, according to documents from the Illinois Department of Procurement. That number is projected to climb to 489,000 in 2015. By setting up a jointly run exchange, the state is doing “a two-step dance,” preparing for its eventual transition to a state-run exchange Jan. 1, 2015, said Jim Duffett, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care in Champaign. “They’re doing it to get the ball rolling,” he said. The federal government has given $39 million to start the exchange, said a state spokesman, with another $90 million possible. Most of the initial payment will go toward developing the exchange’s computer infrastructure. But if the Legislature fails to pass a bill establishing the exchange by spring, the insurance department is unlikely to extend the federal-state partnership on the exchange another year, said Laura Minzer, executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Healthcare Council. “They will simply say to the federal government, ‘Come in,’ ” she said.
—Crain’s Chicago Business
Jefferson Regional, above, plans to become part of Mercy’s health system in four to six months.