By Deborah Yetter,
On Wednesday, Passport Health Plan announced it reached an agreement with Evolent Health, a national health health management company, which will buy a 70% stake in Passport for $70 million. Passport is a non-profit Medicaid managed care plan based in Louisville.
Here’s how the changes could affect:
The about 303,000 people who get health coverage through Louisville’s Passport Health should see no difference once the sale to Evolent goes through.
“It should be transparent with no disruption to patients,” said Bill Wagner, CEO of Family Health Centers, a network of community health clinics in the Louisville area that serves many of Passport’s members.
Passport will keep the same name, and members would continue to see their same doctors, dentists or other health providers as long as those providers remain part of the Passport network.
However, in the long run, Evolent hopes patients might begin to see some improvements in health through its focus on “value-based care,” where it uses technology to pinpoint patient needs and predict potential health problems. The goal is to keep patients healthier, improve outcomes and reduce costs.
The University of Louisville
U of L, its medical center and U of L physicians are among the local health entities that joined to form Passport in 1997 as a pilot project to manage Medicaid in the Louisville region.
A majority owner, U of L will get about $45 million of the $70 million Evolent will pay to acquire Passport, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi announced Wednesday. It will use the funds to address “critical funding issues” at its medical school and University of Louisville Physicians, a practice that includes more than 700 doctors who also work as professors and researchers at the medical school.
U of L will retain a 19.2 percent ownership in Passport, Bendapudi said in a campus-wide letter Wednesday.
Passport’s West Louisville headquarters
Passport suspended construction of its planned West Louisville headquarters at 18th and Broadway in February, citing financial problems it said the sale to Evolent will resolve. The project delay was a blow to community leaders who had hailed it as a major economic boon to the area.
But Passport and Evolent officials said they are committed to reviving the project and finding a developer to help move the project forward.
The headquarters, part of a health and wellness campus, had been scheduled to open in 2020. Passport CEO Mark Carter said that opening the new complex will take longer but he hopes to see it succeed.
No major changes were announced regarding Passport employees. Evolent already supplies administrative services and about 470 of Passport’s 620 employees, under a partnership the two companies began in 2016.
After the sale is finalized, the remaining Passport staff will become Evolent employees.
However, Passport CEO Mark Carter will step down on June 7 and Scott Bowers, Evolent’s national Medicaid president, will become Passport CEO. Carter will remain on temporarily as an executive adviser.
A new board of directors would be formed to oversee Passport with representatives from the current owners, including U of L, and Evolent.
Family Health Centers
Family Health Centers is a network of eight community health clinics in the Louisville area that serves many Passport members and is considered a key part of Louisville’s public health safety net.
The clinics see about 44,000 patients a year.
CEO Bill Wagner said Evolent’s purchase of Passport is good news in that it ensures stable coverage for its patients.
“It will minimize any disruption that would have resulted from Passport either going out of business or being sold to another company,” he said.
As part of recent restructuring, Passport recently announced some cuts in payments to health providers, including the Family Health Centers.
“We did have to take a cut,” Wagner said. “We’re looking for ways we can offset that loss in income.”