September 21, 2020

Editor's note: The headline for this story has been update to reflect that MetLife has reached a deal to purchase Versant Health for $1.68 billion in cash. A previous headline misstated the amount as $1.68 million. 

MetLife would gain access to Versant's provider network and become one of the largest vision insurers in the United States, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the California, Georgia, and New York.

  • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday signed a bill (SB 1159) that eases the burden of proof for some employees who have contracted the new coronavirus at work to receive workers' compensation benefits. Specifically, the bill will presume that police, firefighters, and other essential employees who have contracted Covid-19 did so while on the job so long their place of employment experienced an outbreak, rather than requiring those employees to prove they fell ill at work. The bill takes effect immediately (Gutierrez, Los Angeles Times, 9/17).

  • Georgia: The University of Georgia in a statement Wednesday defended its decision to hold football games on its campus while simultaneously barring on-campus voting. "Those comparing this matter to a football game should be able to recognize that football games will be played outdoors but we will still require social distancing by substantially reducing capacity in the stadium," the university said, adding, "Students will still be able to vote at other locations, including one in downtown Athens, to which the University will provide a shuttle service for student voters" (Budryk, The Hill, 9/17).

  • New York: MetLife on Thursday announced it has reached a deal to purchase Versant Health from an investor group, which includes Centerbridge Partners and FFL Partners, for $1.68 billion in cash. Versant Health owns Superior Vision and Davis Vision—which offer vision-care benefits and coverage plans for employers—and has nearly 35 million members. Under the deal, which still must undergo regulatory approvals, MetLife would gain access to Versant's provider network and become one of the largest vision insurers in the United States (Maidenberg/Scism, Wall Street Journal, 9/17).

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