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 MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A letter of intent concerning a potential merger between HealthPartners and Ramsey HealthCare, Inc., has been signed, and announced by James Evans, HealthPartners board chair, and Steve Schmidt, Ramsey HealthCare board chair.
 The impending merger would be the first such agreement between a Minnesota health plan and a hospital. Such arrangements have been successful in California, Massachusetts, New York and other states with high health maintenance organization (HMO) market share. Under the agreement, Ramsey would become an operating unit of the HealthPartners system, which already includes Group Health, Inc., and MedCenters Health Plan, two of the state's largest HMOs.
 The preliminary merger agreement calls for HealthPartners to assume the governing role of Ramsey HealthCare, the parent company which currently owns and directs the efforts of Ramsey's three major operating units; St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, Ramsey Clinic Associates and Ramsey Foundation.
 "We are committed to preserving the mission and vision of Ramsey HealthCare and its operating units. It's important, we believe, to keep them a key part of the Twin Cities and Minnesota health care industry. Ramsey offers some unique services, ranging from the burn and trauma centers, academic and research efforts, and services to the uninsured and low-income populations. We felt that we needed a strong partner in order to be able to continue this mission in a difficult future, which promises to be increasingly complex and competitive. Our board believes that HealthPartners is our logical partner. As a progressive member- governed organization, they clearly care about many of the same goals we have," said Robert Garland, president and chief executive officer, Ramsey HealthCare, Inc.
 "We were very interested when approached for discussions by Ramsey HealthCare," said George Halvorson, president and chief executive officer of HealthPartners. "Health care organizations throughout Minnesota are talking with each other, and developing partnerships and expansions to help position them to deliver health care in the future. We believe that Ramsey has a great deal to offer the community, and out members and clients.
 "We intend to continue support for Ramsey's programs including the trauma and burn units; the primary care training programs, their strong geriatric programs and their research efforts," Halvorson said. "In the future models for health care delivery, such as ISNs (integrated service networks) and national purchasing pools, we will all be accountable for a full range of ambulatory and acute care services. A combination of HealthPartners' strong clinic network, and health plans, and Ramsey's acute care and academic programs could allow us to offer a very broad range of services to our members and clients.
 "From a purely logistical perspective, Ramsey has excellent care resources, with some of the most modern programs, services and technology in town. They have upgraded each of the major care units over the past five years and have probably the best and most modern facility in the area. The location is excellent, the parking is convenient, and the care programs have earned national reputations. In an age of health care vertical integration, Ramsey is already vertically integrated. We took a hard look at both the current program and its potential, and we liked what we saw."
 The next steps of the discussions are to develop an actual merger agreement, and then to work through board of director approvals. These steps are expected to be developed by the end of 1993.
 HealthPartners is the parent company of a family of health plans and health-related companies. Formed through the affiliation of Group Health, Inc. and MedCenters Health Plan, HealthPartners is the largest managed health care organization in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), representing more than 580,000 members. Group Health, founded in 1957, is a network of staff medical and dental centers located throughout the Twin Cities. MedCenters, founded in 1972, is a network of contracted physicians serving members through affiliated medical and dental centers. Central Minnesota Group Health Plan, a staff-model health plan, serves members in the St. Cloud, Minn. area. HealthPartners offers a combined medical network of 3,500 physicians and dentists, and 4,300 employees.
 Ramsey HealthCare, Inc., the parent corporation of St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, Ramsey Clinic Associates and Ramsey Foundation, coordinates the delivery of medical and health services to the residents of the east Twin Cities metropolitan area and western Wisconsin. St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center is a 435-bed, private, non-profit, critical care, Level 1 trauma, teaching and research hospital located in downtown St. Paul. Ramsey Clinic Associates is a multi-specialty physician group with approximately 200 members. Ramsey Foundation supports the patient care, medical education and research conducted by Ramsey physicians.
 -0- 9/16/93
 /CONTACT: Sara McFee of HealthPartners, 612-883-5301, beeper, 612-527-2210; or Pat Motherway of Ramsey HealthCare, 612-221-2165, or 612-580-0411/

CO: HealthPartners; Ramsey HealthCare, Inc. ST: Minnesota IN: INS MTC SU: JVN

DB-KH -- MN012 -- 2869 09/16/93 17:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 16, 1993

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