Optum's plan to buy Oregon physician group gets pushback

Hundreds of people, including physicians, patients and Oregon Senate Majority Whip Sara Gelser Blouin, have urged the state department of health to block Optum's proposed acquisition of Corvallis (Ore.) Clinic, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported Feb. 8.

Corvallis Clinic is a physician-owned group that includes 11 clinics, an ASC and more than 110 providers, according to its website. It is the largest multispecialty group in Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley and offers a variety of services, including primary care, behavioral health, physical therapy, occupational medicine, radiology and laboratory. 

Citing clinic closures associated with UnitedHealth Group, Optum's parent company, Ms. Gelser Blouin said in comments submitted to the Oregon Health Authority that "many companies have skeletons in their closet" and that Optum is "a massive organization that is not shy about repeatedly cutting corners, skirting the law and putting the wellbeing of patients at risk," according to the report. 

A Dec. 28 application submitted by Optum and the clinic network stated that Corvallis Cinic's "financial forecasts project material losses over the next 12 months, despite the physician-owners' 15% reduction in compensation which was put in place more than a year ago." 

Corvallis Clinic outlined that ongoing losses and financial instability would lead to providers seeking higher compensation opportunities elsewhere. It also argued that the loss of physicians in the area would decrease access to care and limit opportunities for health equity initiatives if the proposed transaction is not approved. 

If the deal goes through, Optum plans to spend more on marketing, hire more providers and invest in new equipment and software at Corvallis Clinic, according to a Dec. 28 public notice. OHA is reviewing the deal and can take up to 180 days from the time the notice was filed.

Corvallis Clinic directors and shareholders unanimously agreed to the Optum transaction in a Jan. 30 letter sent to patients, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times. 

As of Feb. 4, OHA received 327 public comments about the proposed transaction. Ten supported the deal, with the vast majority asking state officials to deny the application. 

Corvallis Clinic and Optum did not respond to Becker's request for comment.

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