One of Buffalo's largest urban health care organizations has been acquired by a recently formed, out-of-town firm in a deal that could result in hundreds of new jobs in Western New York within the next year and take a locally born model of care across the state and the country.
G-Health Enterprises, which includes Urban Family Practice and several other affiliates, is now part of CINQ Care, which has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., the organizations announced Tuesday.
Terms of the transaction, which closed last week, were not disclosed.
“This is an opportunity for our staff, providers and members to unlock our full potential in order to enhance health care services we already provide and optimize long-term impacts for our entire community,” said Dr. Raul Vazquez, president and CEO of G-Health.
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The transaction will come with a local employment boost, an expanded role for Vazquez and a possible impact that could extend beyond Western New York as the company seeks to bring more health care into underserved communities.
Vazquez, who opened Urban Family Practice in 1996 on Buffalo’s West Side, has been identifying community needs and creating health care solutions in Western New York for nearly three decades.
It’s why G-Health now includes not only Urban Family Practice but also the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, the Greater Buffalo United Independent Physicians Association and the Greater Buffalo United Community Based Organization.
All told, G-Health employs about 220 people. That number will rapidly rise, Vazquez said, under CINQ Care as the parent company pumps financial and operational support into the organization, allowing it to grow its offerings to serve the Black and Brown communities across Western New York.
“No one is going to be let go,” he said. “Every job is maintained. Just growth.”
Vazquez, who remains president and CEO of G-Health, said the organization will add 400 employees – ideally by the third quarter of 2022. That will include physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, care coordinators and social workers, among other roles.
In addition to his role with G-Health, Vazquez also is now president of CINQ Care-New York, the parent company’s New York division.
"We're going to be acquiring physicians, we're going to be acquiring practices," he said. "So it's a complete different change to what I was able capable of doing in the past."
How it happened
CINQ Care was founded by Tony Welters, a longtime health care executive who lives in Washington, D.C.
Welters, CINQ Care's CEO, founded health care company AmeriChoice in 1989, which was acquired by UnitedHealth Group in 2002. After the acquisition, Welters also worked at UnitedHealth Group, retiring in 2016 as senior adviser to the Office of the CEO.
At CINQ Care, Welters over the course of this year built a team of executives with experience across several health care industries, with the goal of changing the way care is delivered to Black and Brown communities and aiming to put a dent in health disparities that widened during the pandemic.
One member of that team is Steve Swift, the former executive vice president and chief financial officer at HealthNow New York who left the insurer earlier this year following its new affiliation with Highmark Health.
Swift is now chief financial officer of CINQ Care and remains based in Buffalo. Other executives are scattered across New York City, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
Behind CINQ Care is a private investment from Welters as well as private-equity money, Swift said.
Swift said Tuesday that the model behind CINQ Care is improving the quality and cost of health care by bringing services into communities and, as much as possible, directly into patients' homes.
When CINQ Care evaluated practices to acquire to get a jump on those efforts, what Vazquez had done in building G-Health caught their attention. G-Health has several initiatives that fit into that model of meeting patients where they are, including its recently expanding fleet of mobile units that go into communities to deliver care.
Vazquez said discussions between G-Health and CINQ Care have been ongoing since March.
"A lot of the things they wanted to create, we had already kind of built, so it was just a faster way to kind of get to where they wanted to go by taking a system like ours over," Vazquez said.
With G-Health as its first acquisition, CINQ Care believes it has the financial capacity to bolster resources in Western New York.
The plan is to use Buffalo as a proving ground that this health care model can make a difference, Swift said.
"Our launching pad is going to be here in Buffalo," he said. "We view that as a starting point, not the ending point."
Beyond that, Swift said the expectation is that CINQ Care will further build the model and expand it to New York City and other markets.
For Vazquez, aside from increasing resources in Buffalo, that means his model could scale and grow beyond Western New York.
"We spend a lot of money in this country, but we really don't get what we spend, and I think we can have an impact in making sure that the dollars are effectively being used and that people are actually getting better," Vazquez said, "and we focus more on prevention, not sick care."
Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or email@example.com.