Anthem Blue Cross, seven hospital systems announce affordable health care partnership

Anthem Blue Cross and seven hospital systems plan to announce today a partnership to provide affordable health care to residents in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Joining Anthem,  the state’s largest for-profit health insurer and a unit of WellPoint Inc., are rivals Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the UCLA Health System, MemorialCare Health System, Good Samaritan Hospital, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Torrance Memorial Medical Center and PIH Health.

The participants are taking aim at HMO giant Kaiser Permanente, and the deal reflects the pressure insurers and hospitals alike are facing to hold down healthcare costs for employers and their workers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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The California Public Employees’ Retirement System — a giant pension fund and the nation’s second-largest healthcare buyer — has already signed on as the first major customer in the Southland, starting Jan. 1, according to The Times.

The new Vivity HMO will include, in addition to its hospitals, all of their affiliated physicians offices, surgery centers, clinics and other outpatient facilities.

“We will have a price point similar to Kaiser or better,” Barry Arbuckle, chief executive of MemorialCare, which runs Long Beach Memorial and five other area hospitals, told The Times ahead of this morning’s announcement at the Westin LAX hotel. “This is the next major step for managed care.”

The seven hospital partners and Anthem will share in any profits and losses from this joint venture, according to The Times.

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