Kaiser Shifts Plans In Lane County

Oregon’s largest commercial health insurer, Kaiser Permanente, has dropped plans to buy and develop a 20-acre parcel in Eugene, even as Kaiser continues to expand in the South Willamette Valley.

Kaiser is seeking another site in the Eugene area where it will develop a clinic to serve its projected membership, a Kaiser spokesperson said Monday.

Earlier this month, the foundation arm of the California-based nonprofit medical group dropped its option to buy the 20 acres on Chad Drive near Interstate 5.

In September 2016, Kaiser signed an agreement giving it the option to buy the prominent parcel by early 2019.

The medical group filed a memorandum with Lane County Deeds and Records in early March saying it had terminated the purchase agreement.

Kaiser has been leasing 30,000 square feet in downtown Eugene for its Lane County medical office.

“The lease on our current (downtown) building is up in 2020 and Kaiser Permanente is planning to relocate its downtown Eugene medical office to a larger space to accommodate projected membership,” said spokeswoman Kimberly Mounts.

“For the past year, Kaiser Permanente has been evaluating potential sites in the community. Although we released our option on the Chad Drive location, a new location has not been announced at this time,” she said.

The Chad Drive land and is owned by Guard Publishing Co., former owner of The Register-Guard newspaper. Guard Publishing sold the newspaper last year to GateHouse Media, but retained ownership of the newspaper office building on Chad Drive, as well as nearby land, including the acreage Kaiser had the option on.

Guard Publishing executive Tony Baker said the acreage is now back on the market.

The 20 acres could accommodate a large facility. For comparison, the two-story 126,000-square-foot U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical clinic nearby on Chad Drive was built on 14 acres.

Kaiser is Oregon’s largest commercial health insurance carrier, with more than 324,300 members in the state as of late last year, according to Oregon data. The company focuses on the Portland, Salem and Eugene markets. Kaiser’s model includes selling health insurance as well as owning and operating a network of clinics, labs and pharmacies to provide services. Kaiser also contracts with hospital chains and specialty clinics to provide services to its members.

Founded in 1945, Kaiser has 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia.

In the last couple of years, Kaiser has expanded in Lane County.

Kaiser entered the Lane County market in early 2016 opening the downtown medical clinic a medical clinic and a dental clinic in 5,500 square feet of leased space at the Valley River Center mall. Many students at the University of Oregon in Eugene are from California, Hawaii and elsewhere in Oregon and have Kaiser insurance.

Then, in late 2017, Kaiser reached an agreement that allows people insured by Kaiser to receive health services at PeaceHealth hospitals in Oregon, most notably in Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove and Florence, which are all in Lane County. Under state requirements, that deal allowed Kaiser to begin selling commercial health insurance policies to Oregon residents.

You can reach Christian Wihtol at [email protected].


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