NU Online News Service, Oct. 23, 1:48 p.m. – Sierra Health Services Inc., Las Vegas, says its Texas Health Choice L.C. unit has received final approval from Texas regulators to shut down its Dallas-Fort Worth managed care operations Jan. 1, 2002.

Sierra is also shutting down the Texas Health Choice Medicare managed care operation in Texas.

Sierra still provides or administers major medical coverage for 1.3 million people in other states and other parts of Texas.

The withdrawal from the Dallas-Fort Worth commercial market affects 70,000 Texas residents who own individual Texas Health Choice policies or get coverage from Texas Health Choice through employer-sponsored group plans, according to Sierra.

AmCare Health Plans Inc., Houston, has agreed to offer replacement coverage to all large and small groups now covered by Texas Health Choice.

Sierra entered the Texas managed care market in 1995. It tried to expand in the Dallas-Fort Worth market in 1998 by acquiring struggling managed care operations there from Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., but it has since complained of having great difficulties with making the Dallas-Fort Worth operations profitable.