The Utah Board of Regents has ratified the University of Utah's acquisition of Talbert Medical Group from MedPartners and five medical facilities operated by Talbert.

Meeting Friday at Snow College, the regents approved purchase of the entities in a deal said to be worth about $35 million. Regent Ian Cumming said negotiations are ongoing, so the purchase price may be lower.The facilities and primary care practices will be obtained using University Hospital reserves.

In a related matter, the regents approved a separate tier of employee benefits and retirement for the 650 former Talbert employees who are now part of the newly formed University of Utah Health Network.

"The total benefit packages are different and they are less," compared to other U. physicians and health-care workers, Cumming said. The value is about 14 percent less, he said.

Yet, the state has examined legal questions surrounding the acquisition and believes that establishing a new category of benefits will satisfy legal concerns. "There are no legal problems. There are potential other kinds of problems," Cumming said, without elaborating.

Cumming said he believes other acquisitions are in the offing.

Given the dynamics of the health-care industry, University Hospital needs to broaden its primary care presence to protect its teaching mission, he said.

"We're going to have to take some risks. People who spend their evenings in front of the fire smoking their pipes and reading James Joyce don't understand," he said.