Optum looks to fast-track controversial acquisition of physician-owned clinic

Optum, parent company of ASC chain SCA Health and the country's largest employer of physicians, is aiming to fast-track its proposed purchase of the physician-owned Corvallis (Ore.) Clinic. 

An emergency application was filed March 7 so the clinic "can continue serving their patients and communities with the care they need. As outlined in numerous filings and discussions with the state since December 2023, the Corvallis Clinic has significant longstanding financial issues that have come to a head, necessitating this emergency filing," a spokesperson for Optum told Becker's on March 12.

Because of a lack of cash stability, the clinic does not have time to undergo more regulatory review without more cost-cutting measures that would impact care, Corvallis Clinic's attorneys wrote in the emergency application filed with the Oregon Health Authority.

The clinic could be forced to close, the application added, as the financial condition has worsened. 

The Optum spokesperson said the clinic's financial issues existed before the cyberattack on Optum's Change Healthcare in late February. However, because Corvallis Clinic uses Change to process medical claims, the organization has been left lower on funds following the attack, The American Prospect reported March 10. 

Hundreds of people, including physicians, patients and politicians, have urged the Oregon health department to block the proposed acquisition. Citing clinic closures associated with Optum's parent company, UnitedHealth Group, state Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin said in comments submitted to the Oregon Health Authority that Optum is "a massive organization that is not shy about repeatedly cutting corners, skirting the law and putting the well-being of patients at risk.". 

Optum has seen soaring growth in the last year, adding nearly 20,000 physicians in 2023 and inking deals with physician groups, hospitals and even Uber. The group's rapid growth is "raising antitrust and noncompete concerns as more payers and private equity firms pursue medical practice acquisitions," according to a December report from Medscape

Corvallis Clinic, which operates 11 locations and an ASC, is the largest multispecialty medical group in the mid-Willamette Valley, according to its website. 


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