NU Online News Service, March 14, 12:33 p.m. – PpoNEXT Inc., Long Beach, Calif., a large provider network company, has acquired MasterCare Inc., Cranford, N.J., a smaller provider network company.

Both companies rent provider networks to health insurers, health maintenance organizations, self-funded employee health plans and other types of health plans.

PpoNEXT has direct contracts with 380,000 providers and 3,500 health care facilities in 48 states.

MasterCare has direct contracts with 22,000, 170 hospitals and 3,000 clinics in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and eastern Pennsylvania.

The MasterCare deal is the fifth acquisition ppoNEXT has announced in the past three years.The others involved provider network companies in California, Illinois and Texas.