Humana and two partners plan to acquire Curo Health Services for $1.4 billion and eventually combine that company with a portion of Kindred Healthcare to create the country’s largest hospice operator.

Humana announced the plans Monday morning at a time of continuing consolidation in the health care industry that has seen health insurance companies take a greater interest in not just paying for health care — but also in providing it.

The company is partnering on the Curo deal with TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. Humana initially will take a 40 percent stake; its shares were trading flat midday at $294. The same consortium also wants to buy Kindred, with Humana also taking a 40 percent stake. Eventually, the partners plan to combine Curo with the hospice business of Kindred.

The Louisville-based insurer, which could not be reached Monday, said in a news release that the partners want to buy Curo “with the objective of investing in and building businesses that can help modernize, enhance and transform home health care in America.”

Humana said the acquisition would allow the consortium “to be a leader in managing the continuum of home health, palliative care and hospice in an integrated fashion, creating a positive and differentiated experience for patients and their families — as well as their care providers.”

Health care executives have said that patients with chronic conditions drive nearly 90 percent of health care expenditures, and Humana CEO Bruce Broussard and Kindred CEO Benjamin Breier have said that their companies’ merger would allow them to transform how older Americans, especially those with chronic conditions, get care in their home.

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Curo, which is privately held and based in Mooresville, N.C., provides health care for people in the last stages of terminal illness in 22 states, including Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee and Indiana — but not in Kentucky.

The Curo facility closest to Louisville is in New Albany, Ind. Curo said that hospice care “is for people who have a life expectancy of six months or less, and have chosen to focus on pain and symptom relief over healing treatment.”

Curo could not be immediately reached.

The consortium’s plans to acquire Curo arrive at a time of significant industry consolidation: Humana is reportedly in merger talks with Walmart. Shareholders of Aetna and drugstore company CVS recently approved a $69 billion merger. And insurer Cigna and pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts said last month that they planned to merge in a $67 billion deal.

Humana said the Curo transaction is expected to close this summer, around the same time as the Kindred acquisition, which Kindred shareholders approved this month. Humana said it plans to fund the Curo transaction with cash and expects “no material impact” on 2018 earnings.

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Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.