A $1.8 billion buyout of Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative by Kaiser Permanente was approved Friday by state insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler.
It was the last hurdle the California-based Kaiser had before the purchase proposed more than a year ago could take place. Last week state regulators gave the acquisition the green light, but the deal still needed the insurance commissioner to sign off. The state’s chief reviewer, Ronald Pastuch, said the merger wouldn’t lessen health care competition or harm the public.
“After an extensive and thorough review by my office, it’s clear that Kaiser met all of the legal requirements necessary for approval,” Kreidler said in a news release. “I’m satisfied Washington state will retain a competitive health insurance market.”
Kaiser filed its formal application to buy Group Health in March 2016, and had notified the insurance commissioner of the proposal in late 2015. Group Health serves nearly 600,000 residents of Washington and northern Idaho, according to the order approving the purchase.
Kaiser has more than 10 million members, and employs more than 18,000 physicians.
Group Health plans selected during open enrollment last year will not change this year, and customers can keep their Group Health Doctors, according to the insurance commissioner’s website.