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A long-running flurry of hospital and medical group acquisitions in Pennsylvania — especially among the giants UPMC and Highmark Health — forced Geisinger to make a bigger move of its own and to sell to Kaiser Permanente.

That’s according to Gail Wilensky, who has been on the board of Geisinger since 2010. Wilensky is an economist by training, and also is well-known in health policy circles. Most notably, she led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President George H.W. Bush from 1990 to 1992, and later chaired the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.


Last month’s announcement that Geisinger was selling to Kaiser Permanente surprised many people throughout health care. The deal actually served as a proxy for Geisinger’s own failures over the past several years. Wilensky said she and the other board members felt somewhat boxed into a corner, knowing Geisinger needed a financial boost — and wanted to look outside the state for a “like-minded organization.”

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