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UW Health, Meriter on track for merger

An agreement between UW Health and Meriter allowing patients to avoid overcrowded hospital stays could be finalized as early as this summer.

In a move that will reduce overcrowding and address the need for construction in local health care facilities, UW Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter have signed an agreement to merge operations.

The joint-operating agreement that has been cleared by the Federal Trade Commission comes nine months after the two health care providers announced plans for the agreement. The move  includes merging health insurance plans and sharing net profits, according to a statement released Monday.

UW and Meriter have previously collaborated on various services over the years, including infertility care, dialysis, sleep care, plastic surgery, mother-baby care and the Madison Surgery Center.

The new agreement will expand that partnership to all clinical care, mostly through allowing patients to transfer from UW Health to Meriter, which often has extra capacity.

“Although the organizations have reached important milestones in the process, nothing changes operationally today for patients, members or employees as a result,” the statement said.

Unity Health Plans and Gundersen Health Plan—both affiliated with the Gundersen Health system—merged last year. The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance must still approve the planned merge of UnityPoint Health’s Physicians Plus Insurance Corp.

Since signing letters of intent in June 2016, the organizations have made progress on their due-diligence reviews, met with regulators and set outlines for authority and operating structures.

If approved, the combination of Physicians Plus, Unity and Gundersen Health Plans would eventually give members more choices in terms of providers, products and plans.

Final agreements are expected to be announced this summer.

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