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2 Highmark acquisitions get initial OK

| Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Highmark Inc. will close its acquisition of Jefferson Regional Medical Center no later than March 1, the health insurer said Thursday, with approval of the deal by the Allegheny County Orphans Court.

The Orphans Court, which oversees transactions involving nonprofit corporations, also signed off on Highmark's purchase of West Penn Allegheny Health System, Highmark said. The $1.2 billion deal for West Penn Allegheny still requires the approval of the state Insurance Department, which could occur by early April.

“Jefferson Regional will play a leading role in Highmark's continued development as an integrated delivery system that will benefit all of the region's residents with more convenient, more modernized and more affordable, high-quality care,” Highmark CEO William Winkenwerder said in a prepared statement.

Highmark, the state's largest health insurer, is forming a hospital network to compete against UPMC, the dominant health system in Western Pennsylvania.

It announced plans to buy Jefferson Regional, a 373-bed hospital in Jefferson Hills, in June for as much as $375 million. The deal included as much as $100 million in improvements for the hospital and its outpatient center in Bethel Park, a $75 million donation to the hospital's foundation, and a guarantee for Jefferson Regional's debt and pension obligations, valued at about $200 million.

Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said the insurer expects to soon receive Orphans Court approval to buy St. Vincent Health System in Erie.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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