Make us your home page

Fund scuttles plans to buy St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care

A Coral Gables private equity fund has scuttled plans to buy St. Petersburg-based Universal Health Care, clouding the future of the troubled Medicare insurer.

MBF Healthcare Partners said in a brief statement Wednesday afternoon that it had "mutually agreed" with Universal not to proceed with the acquisition of certain assets of Universal. An MBF spokeswoman said there would be no further comment.

A Universal spokesman could not be reached for comment.

MBF had promised to invest enough to resurrect both the depleted reserves and poor quality ratings that have plagued Universal. It also had pledged to keep the insurer's headquarters and remaining 1,000 employees in downtown St. Petersburg.

Once among the fastest-growing companies in St. Petersburg, Universal Health Care has received poor quality marks from Medicare regulators and brought in fewer customers than expected during the fall Medicare enrollment. The company has stopped marketing its Medicare services in all areas as regulatory scrutiny has grown.

Regulators from Georgia and Ohio late last year prohibited the insurer from writing new policies, citing concerns about the company's relatively low reserves compared with its rising losses.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has repeatedly declined to discuss whether any regulatory actions are being considered or say whether it has followed the lead of Georgia and Ohio by conducting its own investigation. An office spokeswoman cited Florida law, which assures confidentiality during investigations for insurers whose financial solvency, condition or soundness is being monitored.

Fund scuttles plans to buy St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care 01/30/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 1, 2013 3:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  2. Claim: State pressured CFO, used secret recordings to shut down Universal Health Care


    ST. PETERSBURG — The founder of St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care alleges that Florida regulators conspired with the company's chief financial officer to drive the once high-flying Medicare insurer out of business.

    Federal agents raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care in 2013, ordering employees to leave the building. The insolvent St. Petersburg Medicare insurer was then in the process of being liquidated by state regulators.
[DIRK SHADD   |   Times file photo]

  3. Aramis Ayala defends stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala on Wednesday defended her "absolute discretion" to never seek the death penalty in murder cases, as skeptical justices of the Florida Supreme Court bombarded her lawyer with sharp questions.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Times]
  4. Tampa Chamber of Commerce offers boost to black and Hispanic-owned businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — There's a disconnect in Hillsborough County's minority business community.

    Gaston Meredith of Gaston's Culinary Services listens to LaKendria Robinson, Director of Minority Business Accelerator & Economic Inclusion during an information session at the Robert W. Saunders Library in Tampa on Tuesday.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Wesley Chapel, Greater Pasco chambers of commerce merge


    LAND O'LAKES — Two chambers of commerce representing more than 850 business members from west Pasco to Wesley Chapel and New Tampa are merging into a single organization.

    Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Hope Allen will lead the combined chambers of commerce announced Wednesday. The yet-to-be-named chamber will represent more than 850 businesses that currenlty are members of the Greater Pasco and Greater Wesley Chapel chambers.
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]