Critics fear Trillium sale to Centene Corp. will hurt Lane County patients on Oregon Health Plan

Centene agrees to buy the parent firm of the operator of the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County for at least $80 million

by Sherri Buri McDonald
The Register-Guard, JUNE 5, 2015

Running the taxpayer-funded Oregon Health Plan in Lane County has become highly profitable for a private doctor-owned Eugene company, and critics worry that the Fortune 500 corporation that wants to buy the Eugene firm will squeeze out even more profits at the expense of tens of thousands of OHP clients, newly released documents show.

Centene Corp. has agreed to buy Eugene-based Agate Resources, the doctor-owned parent of Trillium Community Health Plan, for $80 million to $130 million, according to state documents released Thursday in response to a public records request by The Register-Guard.

The state has blacked out the identities of Agate’s 217 individual owners and the payouts they would receive if a sale went through. But the combined payout to the owners would be an estimated $128 million, according to the documents.

Dr. Thomas Wuest, president of Slocum Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Eugene, is president of Agate Resources and of Trillium, according to filings with the state Corporation Division.

The state Insurance Division is deciding whether to approve the sale, which would be the first instance of an out-of-state company buying one of Oregon’s 16 Coordinated Care Organizations, or CCOs. The CCOs administer OHP, the state’s health insurance plan for low-income residents, in their respective territories.

Ten of the 16 are for-profit companies, and the rest are nonprofit, said Stephanie Tripp, an Oregon Health Authority spokeswoman.

Trillium has been the CCO in Lane County since 2012 and now manages health care for 100,000 clients of the Oregon Health Plan — the state’s version of Medicaid.

Twenty-five to 30 percent of Lane County residents are on OHP, Trillium CEO Terry Coplin said.

As Trillium’s caseload has swelled, so have its revenues and profits.