Anthem to acquire palliative care provider

Anthem Inc. has agreed to acquire Nashville, Tennessee-based Aspire Health, which bills itself as the country’s largest non-hospice, palliative care provider.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, were not disclosed.

In buying privately held Aspire, Anthem broadens its stable of in-house clinical care assets, joining rivals such as UnitedHealth Group and Humana in making acquisitions that blur the line between insurers and providers.

“Anthem is focused on enhancing our ability to offer innovative, integrated clinical care models that can improve the quality of healthcare and deliver better outcomes,” said Anthem President and CEO Gail K. Boudreaux in a prepared statement.

Aspire provides services under contracts with more than 20 health plans to consumers in 25 states. The company uses proprietary predictive clinical and claims-based patient algorithms to identify patients with a serious illness who may benefit from an extra layer of support.

Aspire was founded in 2013 by former U.S. Senator and physician William Frist and Brad Smith, the company's chief executive officer.

“Several studies have repeatedly demonstrated how advanced illness programs can provide high patient and family satisfaction, reduce hospitalization, and decrease costs,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “As part of Anthem, we believe we will be able to further scale our model and positively impact the lives of even more consumers and families, making home-based advanced illness care available to patients who need it.”

Frist began his career as a heart and lung transplant surgeon and later served two terms as a Republican United States Senator representing Tennessee. He was the Senate Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007.

In 2016, the venture capital arm of Google invested $32 million in Aspire Health. At that time it was the largest investment Aspire Health had attracted.

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