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New York’s bishops sell Fidelis Care, create health foundation

Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier    |    09.05.2018
Category: Health


A multinational, for-profit health-care company recently acquired the nonprofit Fidelis Care in a transaction valued at $3.75 billion.

New York state’s bishops, who founded Fidelis Care in 1993, will use $3.2 billion of the proceeds to form the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which is intended to provide up to $150 million in grants each year to help improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers in need.

Fidelis Care was founded on the belief that all of New York’s residents should have access to affordable, quality health insurance, and the Catholic-sponsored health plan gradually spread throughout New York state. Fidelis, which began operating in Monroe County in 2007 and by 2012 had a presence in each of the Diocese of Rochester’s 12 counties, provides coverage through such low-cost plans as Child Health Plus, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage.

A Fortune 500 company, Centene focuses on under-insured and uninsured individuals, and has been offering government-sponsored and state-based health plans for more than 30 years. It currently is the largest Medicaid Managed Care Organization in the country, according to its website, to www.centene.com.

Fidelis Care and Centene shared similar missions and even before the acquisition were closely aligned on many levels, according to a July 2 statement from Michael F. Neidorff, Centene’s chairman and CEO.

“We look forward to working with Fidelis Care’s network of New York health professionals to support the next generation in government-sponsored health-care programs in the state,” Neidorff said in the statement.

Centene announced its plans to acquire Fidelis Care last September and embarked upon a nine-month process of developing an integration plan and obtaining required regulatory approvals. In April, New York state’s Department of Health and Department of Financial Services approved the transfer to Centene of the managed-care plans owned and managed by Fidelis Care. After requesting comments from the public, acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood approved the sale in June, and Centene completed its acquisition of Fidelis on July 1.

Father Patrick J. Frawley will continue to serve as Fidelis’ CEO. Fidelis Care will continue to be headquartered in Queens and maintain operations throughout the state, including in the dioceses of Rochester, Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse. According to a May letter to clients from Fidelis Care, policyholders will find 2019 coverage virtually identical to their current coverage, and will still have access to their current benefits and provider network.

Rates, however, are expected to go up significantly in 2019.

New York’s bishops, meanwhile, have taken steps to improve the health of New Yorkers in need. In May they announced the formation of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which will be steered by a board of health experts, business leaders and philanthropists. Alfred Kelly, the CEO of Visa Inc., will chair the board.

Named after St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants, the foundation is intended to provide grants to improve the health and well-being of poor and underserved New Yorkers — including immigrants and other marginalized communities — throughout the state, according to a May 8 press release from New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and New York’s bishops.

“The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, born of our Catholic tradition of healing for the sick and caring for the poor, will provide assistance to needy New Yorkers of every color, every religion and every background,” said Cardinal Dolan, who also is president of the New York State Catholic Conference. “The foundation will seek to transform the lives of underserved New Yorkers from all corners of the state and set a national model for addressing the health and wellness needs of low-income communities.”

Grants awarded through the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation are intended to eliminate barriers to health care, bridge gaps in health services and seek to drive better care for marginalized communities in the hopes that focusing on the social determinants of health will result in healthier New Yorkers over the long term, according to a spokesperson for the foundation.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors currently is working with the new foundation’s board of directors to develop a comprehensive grant-making program focused on strengthening individuals, families and communities, and the foundation is expected to start awarding grants in 2019.

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