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UnitedHealth's Optum to acquire Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion

In an effort to fulfill its mission to expand its provider footprint to serve about two-thirds of the U.S. population, OptumCare Surgical Care Affiliates for about $2.3 billion in a cash and stock deal.

Deerfield, Ill.-based SCA owns or operates 190 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals, most as joint ventures with physicians and health systems. The company says SCA and its affiliates serve approximately 1 million patients per year in more than 30 states. In 2015, it had operating revenue of around $1.1 billion.

The deal signals that Optum, which is the healthcare arm of the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, is betting that any changes to the Affordable Care Act, which have lowered the level of the uninsured throughout the country and brought in patients to healthcare providers in droves, will continue to provide coverage for the up to 30 million people it has insured.

“Joining with OptumCare will enable us to better support and empower independent physicians, helping them provide high-quality care for their patients while making healthcare more affordable,” said Andrew Hayek, chairman and CEO of SCA. “We already have a strong relationship with OptumCare, so we have seen firsthand that our cultures and strategies are aligned and complementary.”

Larry C. Renfro, vice chairman of UnitedHealth Group and Optum CEO, said that tying up with SCA “will enable us to continue the transition to high-quality, high-value ambulatory surgical care, partnering with the full range of health systems, medical groups and health plans.”

UnitedHealth has said Optum aims to provide primary care and ambulatory services in 75 markets, representing about two-thirds of the U.S. population. Over the past year, Optum has purchased physician practices around the country. It also acquired urgent-care provider, MedExpress. In 2014, Optum agreed to acquire MedSynergies, a physician practice consulting firm, and care-monitoring company Alere Health for $600 million.

The company told investors in late November that it had clinical practices in 26 markets.

Optum will pay $57 per share of SCA to be funded between 51% and 80% with UnitedHealth common stock. Optum will have an outstanding payout in cash. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2017.

Hayek and the SCA leadership team are expected to remain a part of the merged company.

Shares of Surgical Care Affiliates Inc. climbed $7.82, or 16.1%, to $56.57 in morning trading, while UnitedHealth Group Inc. shares slipped $1.27 to $161.14.


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