Universal Health Care Files Bankruptcy

Universal Health Care Group, the beleaguered St. Petersburg Medicare insurer, is fending off creditors at the same time as regulators.

Universal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization late Wednesday, seeking to stay in operation as it tries to sell itself to a company controlled by Tampa cardiologist and WellCare Health Plans founder Kiran Patel.

As the┬áTimes┬áreported earlier, Universal is simultaneously facing the prospect of regulators seizing control. Florida insurance regulators have referred two of the company’s entities, Universal Health Care Insurance Co. and Universal Health Care Inc., to the state Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation for delinquency proceedings.

Depending on results of the hearing, Universal could be placed into receivership.

In its bankruptcy filing, Universal listed assets of $50 million to $100 million and debts between $10 million and $50 million. Its biggest creditors are HCA in Palm Harbor, which is owed $6 million, and Colorado IT systems provider TriZetto, which is owed $4 million. Both unsecured claims are listed as disputed.

Universal, which has up to 1,000 employees in downtown St. Petersburg, has been battling customer defections and heightened regulatory oversight over concerns of poor quality and insufficient funding. Regulators in Ohio and Georgia cited concerns over the company’s relatively low reserves in contrast to its rising losses.

Last month, Universal stopped marketing Medicare services in all areas.

Tampa Bay Times