Altoona Regional Health System OKs UPMC acquisition

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The Altoona Regional Health System is scheduled to become part of UPMC on July 1 and be renamed UPMC Altoona following a unanimous vote by board members of the health system and its parent company, Central Pennsylvania Health Services Corp.

In the deal, which still requires approval by the state attorney general, UPMC has committed $250 million over 10 years to enhance facilities and services at Altoona Regional. It also is assuming responsibility for the hospital's outstanding debt and pension obligations and will give $10 million to the hospital's foundation, according to a statement released late Friday.

In return for its investment, the statement said, "Altoona Regional will become UPMC's regional referral center."

Under the agreement, two-thirds of the UPMC Altoona board members will be appointed by the current Altoona Regional board and one-third will be appointed by UPMC.

The deal, which has been in the works since November, recently has come under fire by some employees and members of the community who cited a lack of public input in the decision. Some also are worried that Highmark subscribers may eventually find themselves "out of network" if the contract between the hospital and Highmark is not renewed next summer.

UPMC officials have said they will negotiate will all insurers in Altoona.

"UPMC was chosen because it offers a relationship that will enable Altoona Regional to further enhance our quality of care and breadth of medical services," said Altoona Regional president and CEO Jerry Murray in a release. "We also will gain new access to capital, outstanding technology, science, innovation, and expertise."

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Steve Twedt: or 412-263-1963.

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