UnitedHealth’s Optum involved in $2.2B physician staffing acquisition

The rapid expansion of UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division into patient care has continued, with Moody’s Investors Service identifying it as one of the acquiring firms of a physician staffing firm in Tacoma, Washington.

The sale of Sound Inpatient Physicians was already public knowledge—majority owner Fresenius Medical Care had announced in April it was divesting its stake in the company to an investment consortium led by Summit Partners.

 

No mention was made of Optum in announcing the sale. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Moody’s report outed the UnitedHealth subsidiary as Summit’s partner in the deal when assigning a rating on debt related to the acquisition.

Sound Inpatient Physicians is ““primarily focused on providing hospital medicine,” Moody’s said in its report. “It also provides services across the acute episode of care including that for emergency rooms and critical care units. As of 2017, the company had 3,500 employees and roughly $1.3 billion in pro forma revenues.”

UnitedHealth Group hasn’t mentioned the purchase, but it falls in line with its recent acquisitions activity. In 2017, Optum’s major purchases including paying $4.9 billion for DaVita Medical Group, $2.3 billion for Surgical Care Affiliates and $1.3 billion for the Advisory Board Company’s healthcare division.

Optum’s moves come as other health insurance giants have been seeking horizontal combinations, like the proposed acquisition of Aetna by CVS Health and the merger between Cigna and Express Scripts. Unlike those more recent moves, however, Optum has been scooping physician practices for nearly a decade and now commands a physician workforce beyond that of healthcare giants like HCA.

“This is obviously scaring the crap out of hospitals in many markets,” Chas Roades, CEO of consulting firm Gist Healthcare, told Bloomberg in April.