The Massachusetts Attorney General approved UnitedHealth Group’s $236 million proposed purchase of Atrius Health, one of the largest not-for-profit physician groups in the state.
As a condition of the deal, the proceeds from the sale must be used to create a new not-for-profit, the Atrius Health Equity Foundation, aside from transaction fees associated with the acquisition.
The deal will now be sent to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for review.
“While it will mean a loss in the charitable sector of an important healthcare provider, it will enable Atrius Health to continue to serve hundreds of thousands of patients, will preserve the value of the charitable assets, and ensure that the Atrius Health Equity Foundation will use sale proceeds to promote health equity,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in an email.
UnitedHealth Group in March 2021 said it intended to buy the Boston not-for-profit, which provides medical services to one in 10 patients in the state and is made up of more than 700 clinicians. The AG’s said its review of the deal increased the purchase price by $73 million and requires that Optum commit to continue serving MassHealth Medicaid patients and report information about healthcare cost and access to its office.
If approved, Atrius Health clinicians will join UnitedHealth Group’s Optum arm, the organization’s fastest-growing, $3.2 billion healthcare services division. The deal was part of UnitedHealth Group’s purchase of 10,000 clinicians in 2021. The healthcare parent—which also houses the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealthcare—is the largest employer of clinicians in the nation, with more than 60,000 clinicians working under Optum.
The proposed acquisition came as Atrius Health was struggling financially. An April 2020 audit found that the company was conserving cash and seeking new credit lines to prepare for the hurt that Atrius expected the COVID-19 pandemic to bring to its bottom line.