Kaiser Permanente’s purchase of Group Health gets OK

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has given his final approval to Kaiser Permanente’s acquisition of the nonprofit Group Health Cooperative.

The Seattle Times reports (https://goo.gl/FV0vuK ) that Kreidler’s announcement Friday was not a surprise, as regulators on his staff had already endorsed the deal. The insurance commissioner is required to assess whether such an acquisition would hurt competition or consumer choice. Staff began reviewing the deal early last year.

Group Health has 650,000 members in Washington and northern Idaho and annual income of $3.5 billion. California-based Kaiser has 10.6 million members in eight states and Washington, D.C., and reported $60 billion in 2015 revenue.

Kaiser Permanente said it will transfer $1.8 billion into a new community nonprofit to continue Group Health’s mission.