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New York to liquidate Touchstone Health HMO

New York is moving to liquidate Touchstone Health HMO, a White Plains Medicare-only health maintenance organization that formally shut down more than two years ago.

Maria T. Vullo, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services, petitioned Westchester Supreme Court on March 4 for authority to take possession of Touchstone’s property and liquidate the business.

The petition does not disclose what, if any, property remains. Touchstone ceased to operate as an HMO as of Jan. 1, 2016.

Several doctors, East River Ventures LP and Lehman Brothers registered a stock offering for the Touchstone Health Partnership in 2003, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The HMO was incorporated in New York in 2006 and licensed by the state Department of Health in 2007.

It offered Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Advantage Part D prescription plans in the five boroughs and Westchester and Orange counties. By the end of 2008, the HMO was insolvent, according to an examination report issued by the state financial services agency.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services identified it as a poor performing organization several times on its annual “outlier” reports.

The company struggled to enroll enough people to achieve profitability. About 17,000 people had chosen its healthcare plans as of 2010 but enrollment had dropped to 10,000 by the end.

Essex Woodlands Healthcare Partners, an international venture capital fund with offices in Manhattan, invested in Touchstone in 2006 and controlled 60 percent of the company by 2008. Healthcare Partners IPA, Garden City, Long Island, owned the remaining 40 percent.

The HMO employed about 75 people.

In late 2015, Touchstone and the federal Department of Health & Human Services agreed to terminate their Medicare contract as of Jan. 1, 2016. Touchstone’s directors unanimously agreed to liquidate the HMO at the end of 2015.

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