Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, Ohio's largest health care system, announced last week it is acquiring Kaiser Permanente Ohio, a northeast Ohio health plan.

The companies last week inked the initial agreement, which still needs regulatory approval.

The move comes just months after CHP announced plans to enter into a partnership with Summa Health System, a $1.4 billion Akron-based health system.

The Kaiser health plan covers roughly 80,000 Ohioans. "This opportunity interests us because it preserves a values-based, patient-centered care model that we can expand throughout the region," CHP president and chief executive officer Michael Connelly said in a statement. "Additionally, it enables us to focus on enhancing quality, improving access to health care, and effectively managing costs."

CHP is rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings and A1 by Moody's Investors Service. It has $1.8 billion of outstanding debt and operates 24 hospitals and 250 facilities, most located in Ohio and Kentucky.

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