Tufts Health Plan, Harvard Pilgrim to merge 8 years after failed deal

About eight years after failing to complete a proposed combination in 2011, Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care are trying again.

The health plans said Aug. 14 that they signed a definitive agreement to combine. The deal will create one of Massachusetts' largest nonprofit health plans. Boards of each organization approved the deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals.

In a press release, Tufts Health and Harvard Pilgrim said: "Both organizations share the same vision that a combined organization will be even more effective, better able to keep high-quality healthcare accessible and affordable, while at the same time investing in programs and initiatives that enhance quality." The statement contrasts their views in 2011, when Harvard Pilgrim's then-CEO Eric Schultz said the organizations were stronger as individual competitors than as one company.

Tufts Health and Harvard Pilgrim have yet to name their combined entity. Its board of directors will be chaired by Harvard Pilgrim board chair Joyce Murphy, and will have equal representation from both payers.

Tufts Health President and CEO Tom Croswell will lead the new organization as CEO. Harvard Pilgrim President and CEO Michael Carson will serve as president, overseeing the combined entity's business lines and subsidiaries.

Nearly 2.4 million members will be served under the new organization across five states: Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

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