Atlantic Health-CentraState partnership gets final regulatory approval

Unique partnership will bring CentraState significant resources, including capital investment of $135M

A unique health care partnership in which Atlantic Health System will become the majority corporate member in CentraState Healthcare System — and CentraState will join the Atlantic Health System network of care — received the final signoff from a New Jersey judge Wednesday.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Joseph Quinn has accepted New Jersey acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck’s approval of CentraState and Atlantic Health’s plans to expand their successful partnership under the Community Health Care Assets Protection Act.

John Gribbin. (File photo)

The ruling, the final regulatory step needed to complete the co-membership transaction, will officially take effect Jan. 1.

Officials from both organizations said the partnership will deliver immediate benefits to patients, physicians and caregivers in CentraState’s communities by strengthening its integrated clinical services, physician network and infrastructure through a capital investment of $135 million, outlined in a five-year plan endorsed by both systems’ boards.

The new model for partnership will provide CentraState with significant resources to support its longstanding community focus while advancing Atlantic Health’s mission to touch more lives in New Jersey through collaborations for high-quality, value-based care. The CentraState board and leadership team will continue to oversee system operations at CentraState and ensure the continued advancement of its mission to enhance health and well-being in its local community through the compassionate delivery of quality health care.

CentraState Healthcare CEO John Gribbin celebrated the announcement.

“We are very pleased to have reached this final step in the regulatory process and look forward to closing the transaction with Atlantic Health System so that, together, we can continue to build upon our programs and services for the health of the community,” he said.

Atlantic Health CEO Brian Gragnolati shared his enthusiasm.

“Approval of our partnership with CentraState further supports what we have shown throughout our relationship — that we are committed to keeping patients at the center of every decision as we work together to make care more accessible and convenient for every patient,” he said.

The partners said they already are making progress in creating new technical and clinical advancements in care.

Within the first few months of 2022, CentraState will implement the Epic electronic health record platform across its system. Epic will improve efficiency and safety, by providing physicians with a patient’s full and up-to-date medical record. Once complete, CentraState Medical Center and the system’s other sites of care will join Atlantic Health System on Epic, ensuring that, no matter where a patient receives care, their medical information will seamlessly travel with them through the MyChart patient portal.

Brian Gragnolati. (File photo)

Physicians in the CentraState network already have joined Atlantic Medical Group, one of New Jersey’s largest physician groups. Effective June 2021, nearly 50 CentraState physicians and health care professionals gained access to Atlantic Health’s nationally recognized services and programs, including risk-based contracting initiatives, which have already delivered better results for patients and proven savings.

CentraState patients will immediately benefit from cutting-edge data analytics capabilities. Based on the clinical experiences from Atlantic Health System’s interactions with nearly 1 million unique individuals over the last year, these data tools allow caregivers to make more efficient, informed decisions that improve outcomes and reduce costs, as evidenced by the success of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organizations. These resources will also accelerate CentraState’s journey from a fee-for-service model of contracting to value-based care.

The pending completion of the co-membership arrangement paves the way for future joint venture opportunities, including ambulatory services and other population health strategies, which will make care more accessible, affordable and convenient for residents in the communities served by CentraState.

The CHAPA ruling is the last regulatory step in a process that began in early 2020 with the signing of a Letter of Intent and continued with last October’s announcement that the two systems had entered into a definitive agreement. That work builds upon an already successful clinical affiliation in oncology and neuroscience and existing relationship in the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, designed to provide more affordable health insurance to health care system employees across New Jersey.

The two systems will have a signing ceremony in the coming weeks to finalize the new venture.