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Is a Henry Ford-Kaiser Permanente deal in the works? 5 things to know

Talk is circulating of a relationship between Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente.

Here are three things to know about the potential partnership, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

1. Neither entity has confirmed a deal, but Crain's reports that officials connected with Kaiser and Henry Ford said talks between the organizations began earlier this year.

2. It wouldn't be a first for Henry Ford and Kaiser. Kaiser entertained a potential merger with Henry Ford roughly 20 years ago, Allan Baumgarten, a Minneapolis-based consultant, told Crain's.

3. The scope of a possible partnership between the two is not yet known. Several officials connected with Kaiser and Henry Ford told Crain's an affiliation between the two health systems could range from a nonasset transfer joint venture involving managed care and population health management services, to Henry Ford becoming Kaiser's eighth regional market, according to the report.

4. Henry Ford is looking for a new partner. Henry Ford officials previously acknowledged they have been seeking a partner since its proposed merger with Royal Oak, Mich.-based Beaumont Health System was scrapped in 2013 over cultural differences.

Henry Ford CEO Nancy Schlichting and President Wright Lassiter III did not comment on the matter. However, a health system spokesperson issued an official statement to Crain's:

"Henry Ford is continually engaged in discussions with health systems locally and nationally regarding opportunities to partner and improve quality, efficiency and the overall experience for our patients and members. A major focus of our discussions is on learning, benchmarking and sharing best practices. We do not comment on specific organizations or rumors."

5. The deal could be a change in strategy for Kaiser. Acquiring a health system like Henry Ford would be a first for the integrated sytem since it generally builds regional markets on its own, Jeff Goldsmith, president of Charlottesville, Va.-based consulting firm Health Futures, told Crain's.

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