AtlantiCare-Geisinger Frequently Asked Questions

Why is AtlantiCare joining Geisinger?

AtlantiCare believes that joining Geisinger will strengthen its ability to innovate healthcare and improve the quality, experience and value for patients and the communities we serve—ensuring access well into the future.

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, signaled a fundamental change in the way healthcare would be delivered in the future.  Geisinger and AtlantiCare embraced the opportunity to lead change by developing and adopting new models of care that can deliver more value to the healthcare consumer. For example, Geisinger’s ProvenCare® and AtlantiCare’s Special Care Center are nationally acclaimed models that have successfully produced quality outcomes and improved experiences for patients at lower cost overall.

For more than 25 years, we have taken bold steps to advance our vision of building healthy communities, including forming the AtlantiCare health system and earning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recognition in 2009.  Joining Geisinger is another milestone in our journey. By joining forces, our like-minded, high-quality and financially strong organizations hope to combine their collective population health capabilities, and capital and intellectual assets to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve—from Pennsylvania to southeastern New Jersey.

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Who is Geisinger?

Geisinger Health System (GHS), headquartered in Danville, Pennsylvania, is a national thought leader in population health. With over $3 billion in annual revenue, the integrated health services organization is widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development of innovative care models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®.

As the nation’s largest rural health services organization, Geisinger serves more than 3 million residents throughout 48 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. The physician-led system is comprised of more than 23,500 employees, including a 1,200-member multi-specialty group practice, seven hospital campuses, two research centers and a 467,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $7.7 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania economy.

The non-profit health system and the health plan have repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service.

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How did you select Geisinger?

During a thorough, year-long process, AtlantiCare thoughtfully considered partners that could help us achieve our vision of building healthy communities and advance the organization for future generations. This included forming a Board and Physician Task force, which worked closely with AtlantiCare Senior Management to identify potential partners. Some of our guiding principles included: commitment to our community and our employees, cultural and strategic compatibility, physician alignment and management expertise, financial strength, and a population health focus and competency. The health and wellbeing of our community is our top priority and has guided decisions with regard to this opportunity. We determined that Geisinger was the best option and met many of our objectives.

The AtlantiCare and Geisinger Health System relationship is built on the understanding that the healthcare delivery system in the United States is changing to a value-based model. As a result, the emphasis is on implementing evidence-based medicine programs, enhancing capabilities and clinical services, optimizing the use of the electronic health record and clinical informatics, and implementing population health management and value-based payment models.

Geisinger is well experienced in the technology enhancements and care redesign necessary to successfully achieve the outcomes most meaningful to our patients and communities. Together we will provide a system of care different from what is currently available in southern New Jersey.

Representatives from each organization will sit on the AtlantiCare and Geisinger Health System Foundation boards of directors. AtlantiCare will retain its strong brand name and local autonomy in caring for its local community, and benefit from Geisinger’s nationally acclaimed innovations. The agreement also provides the opportunity for Geisinger Health Plans, already licensed in New Jersey, to expand in the Atlantic County and surrounding area.

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Is AtlantiCare being bought?

AtlantiCare is not being bought. Pending recommendation from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Health and approval of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, AtlantiCare will become a member of Geisinger Health System. Geisinger and AtlantiCare have committed to investing more than $175 million in our strategies to improve healthcare delivery, to expand access and to innovate and grow our services.

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What other partners did you look at? Did you look at local hospitals?

Yes, we considered a number of local, regional and nationally recognized systems as potential partners.  Through our rigorous process and our guiding principles, we were able to identify the ones that were most likely to be compatible with our unique culture and shared our population health focus and capability.

Geisinger shares our passion around building healthy communities and has the experience and capabilities to produce meaningful outcomes with us.

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How long has it taken to complete the agreement?

We began our search for a partner in 2012. AtlantiCare and Geisinger announced the signing of a letter of intent to explore ways the healthcare organizations could work together to benefit healthcare for their patients in November, 2013. We announced the signing of a definitive agreement to join in May, 2014. Since then we have be going through the regulatory approval process. In June of this year, the Office of the State of New Jersey’s Attorney General notified AtlantiCare that its application to become a member of the Geisinger Health System is complete. The public hearings were the next part in the regulatory process, in accordance with New Jersey’s Community Health Care Assets Protection Act. After the required public hearings, which were held July 16 in Atlantic City and in Galloway, New Jersey, the Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey Department of Health will make a written recommendation regarding the integration. If favorable, AtlantiCare will apply to the Superior Court, Chancery Division, for final approval of the transaction.

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Will the AtlantiCare name/brand go away?

No, our healthcare organization will still be known as AtlantiCare and will carry the tagline “A member of the Geisinger Health System,” that identifies our integration with Geisinger Health System.

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Will AtlantiCare’s commitment to the community change?

AtlantiCare is committed to providing care within our facilities and throughout the communities we serve. In 2014, we provided nearly $800,000 in community benefits programming and services. We are committed to helping organizations that share our vision of building healthy communities. Historically, AtlantiCare has provided more charity care than its seven closest competitors in southern New Jersey. In 2014, it provided more than $30 million of charity care.

Is AtlantiCare experiencing financial difficulty?

AtlantiCare, an A+ rated healthcare organization, is financially strong and continues to experience positive performance and robust growth this year.  AtlantiCare comes into this membership from a position of strength.

AtlantiCare and Geisinger will merge the strengths of two high-quality organizations that can achieve even better outcomes for the people of Pennsylvania and southeastern New Jersey.

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Is Geisinger paying for AtlantiCare?

No. Geisinger and AtlantiCare have committed to an investment of more than $175 million over the next five years to upgrade tools and technology, improve clinical quality, enhance care delivery, and expand access to services. 

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Will AtlantiCare be run by people in Pennsylvania? Will AtlantiCare have seats on the board?

AtlantiCare will continue to have local autonomy in operating our business and providing services to the region.  We will be represented by local community members on the Geisinger Board, its Insurance boards, and its Executive Committee. Geisinger will also have representation on our boards.

By joining Geisinger, we will preserve access for our community to high quality care by ensuring an economically viable organization well into the future.

In the end, both Geisinger and AtlantiCare want to help people in our communities become healthier.  Together, we believe we can.

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How will AtlantiCare's patients experience the change?  What does this mean for our community?

Patients will benefit from our joining Geisinger, especially as we adopt Geisinger’s proven models of care that can help improve access to more affordable care with quality outcomes that are meaningful to them. Geisinger will share its nationally renowned models— ProvenCare® and ProvenHealth Navigator® with AtlantiCare providers and staff. 

Our community will also benefit from our ability to invest further in information systems and other innovations that help us achieve outcomes that are meaningful to our community.  Also, as these additional investments in technology and new processes take place, employers will likely see the cost of healthcare decline.

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Will my doctor still be available at AtlantiCare?

Yes, patients will still have access to their providers at AtlantiCare.

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Will AtlantiCare refer patients to Pennsylvania?

The safety and wellbeing of our patients is a top priority. We offer many tertiary services through our Centers of Excellence. We will continue to provide those services here in our community.

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What will happen to AtlantiCare’s current clinical affiliations?

We will honor all current affiliations through the terms of the present contracts and determine what is best for the community as we move forward.

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Will this impact health insurance coverage?

No, AtlantiCare has arrangements with most major insurers and will continue to honor those relationships. We expect that people in our community will have more options as a result of our affiliation with Geisinger.  

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Will Geisinger Health Plan® provide insurance in our region?

Geisinger Health Plan® is licensed in our region and will be able to provide coverage to consumers and employers in the future.

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Will this mean higher prices for healthcare?

Currently, we understand that our pricing is higher than some others in the marketplace but the difference is directly related to the amount of free care and the higher level of services we provide. Our cost structure is within 3.5% of the statewide average. The merger with Geisinger will provide additional operational efficiencies and savings and, more important, will significantly enhance AtlantiCare’s ability to manage the health status of our local populations thereby reducing the total spend of our accountable care organization and health plan customers.

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Does Geisinger have experience with mergers, partnerships or affiliations, or is this the first one they have done?

Yes, Geisinger has completed a number of different arrangements with healthcare systems regionally and, through Geisinger Health Plan®, even nationally.  Most recently, Holy Spirit Health System, Camp Hill, PA, became an affiliate of Geisinger.  Previously, Community Medical Center in Scranton, Shamokin Area Community Hospital in Coal Township, PA, Bloomsburg Hospital in Bloomsburg, PA, and Lewistown Hospital in Lewistown, PA, became members of the Geisinger family. Geisinger has many affiliations through its consulting company to bring clinical innovation and care models to other providers and systems

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Will AtlantiCare employees lose their job?

In identifying a potential partner, senior leadership and the Board considered guiding principles that included commitment to our community and to our employees.  With regard to jobs, we will continue to make operational and sound business decisions that are consistent with our unique culture, just as we do today.

We will have local autonomy in operating our system and also retain oversight of personnel decisions in order to achieve our goals. 

During the integration planning, AtlantiCare and Geisinger are determining how we can work together to serve our communities in the most effective way. We will include the input of AtlantiCare leaders, staff and physicians during the integration process.

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How will this impact AtlantiCare leadership?

We will retain AtlantiCare’s leadership and will continue to make operational and sound business decisions that are consistent with our unique culture, just as we do today. 

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Will your staff’s benefits change?

As we have always done, we will continue to make operational and sound business decisions that are consistent with our unique culture.

We will have local autonomy in operating our system and also retain oversight of personnel decisions in order to achieve our goals. For example, we have been making changes to our benefit design over the last few years that help us advance our population health goals. We expect that we will continue to look for those opportunities as an affiliate of Geisinger.

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Will AtlantiCare staff work for AtlantiCare or Geisinger?

AtlantiCare employees and employed physicians and providers will work for AtlantiCare—a Member of the Geisinger Health System.

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Who made the decision to join Geisinger?

AtlantiCare did. A task force of the AtlantiCare Board, comprised of some members of the board, medical staff and senior leaders, considered options to partner or affiliate, based on criteria that included alignment with our values, culture and strategy among other things. The Task Force made a recommendation to the System Board, and it was approved on November 12, 2013.

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Will this impact the way physicians/providers practice?

Geisinger is a physician–led healthcare organization. We expect that providers will get more support in the form of tools, technology and training as we transition from the “volume to value” healthcare world, where providers focus on improving quality and patient experience while best managing costs. Geisinger will share its clinical best practices, such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®, with providers for the benefit of patients and the community.

During the due diligence period, we have learned more about each other, our cultures and our best practices. As merged organizations, AtlantiCare‘s physicians and other providers, leaders and staff will have input in integration planning.

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Will physicians still be credentialed through AtlantiCare and be on AtlantiCare’s medical staff? 

Yes, AtlantiCare will continue to credential physicians who will become members of AtlantiCare’s medical staff.

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Will AtlantiCare continue to employ physicians?

Yes, AtlantiCare Physician Group will continue to expand and will employ physicians and advance practice nurses throughout the regional service area.

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Will staff, physicians and leaders be able to apply for jobs within the Geisinger system? 

Yes, and Geisinger staff and physicians will also be able to apply for jobs within AtlantiCare.

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Will AtlantiCare’s vision, mission and values change?

Our vision, mission, and values are very similar to Geisinger’s, even if the specific words are unique to their culture.  During our integration planning, we are exploring how we will continue to serve our communities together.

Consistent with AtlantiCare’s long-term, rolling strategic planning process, we are currently reviewing the relevance of our current Mission, Vision and Values in the context of our changing environment.

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Where can I find more information about this announcement (or Geisinger)?

We will post updates to our website – www.atlanticare.org. You can also visit www.geisinger.org.

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About Geisinger Health System

Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development of innovative care models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®.
As the nation’s largest rural health services organization, Geisinger serves more than 2.6 million residents throughout 44 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

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