NU Online News Service, July 30, 1:03 p.m. – Coventry Health Care Inc., Bethesda, Md., a large managed care company, has agreed to buy a smaller managed care company, Blue Ridge Health Alliance Inc., Charlottesville, Va., for about $12.5 million in cash.

Blue Ridge and a subsidiary, QualChoice of Virginia Health Plan Inc., provide health plan administrative services for 40,000 residents of central and southwest Virginia, and health maintenance organization coverage for 70,000. The Coventry deal value amounts to $114 per plan member, and $179 per insured major medical member.

Coventry already owns another Virginia HMO, Southern Health, that provides major medical coverage for 50,000 Virginia residents.

The Blue Ridge deal will give Southern Health a bigger market share and add the University of Virginia Medical Center to the Southern Health provider network, Coventry says.

The medical center and the University of Virginia Health Services Foundation are the majority owners of Blue Ridge.

The Blue Ridge deal agreement requires Coventry to enter into a five-year provider contract with the medical center and the foundation.

Coventry hopes to complete the deal by Sept. 30.