Morning Roundup: Another healthcare merger on the books; Portland homeless crisis hits snag

In today’s news, Legacy’s stake in PacificSource is official, Measure 97 has healthcare providers worried and Portland’s homeless crisis continues.

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1. Another health partnership is on the books

Legacy Health purchased a 50% stake in PacificSource Health Plans yesterday. The partnership isn’t a surprise. It’s one of many healthcare mergers on deck as the market changes in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. Legacy’s $247.5 million purchase required state approval by the Oregon insurance commissioner, which was obtained earlier this summer. The Bend Bulletin reports the merger is designed to create a medical care and insurance partnership similar to Kaiser Permanente and Providence. 

2. Other healthcare providers unsure of Oregon market

While Legacy and PacificSource consider a hopeful future, many healthcare providers are concerned by the future of Measure 97. The Portland Tribune reports the corporate tax could drive up costs for patients at for-profit medical centers. Providers listed as “C” corporations are the only at risk of a tax increase, such as the Oregon Clinic. 

3. Portland homeless crisis far from resolution

Portland conducted its sweep of the Springwater Corridor yesterday, as more than 100 homeless campers sought shelter elsewhere. The Oregonian reports the sweep went smoothly, concluding at 3 p.m. with no arrests. Crews will now begin cleaning the trail. The larger issue is that with the sweep complete, there’s no where for those displaced homeless people to set up camp. Advocates say the issue is still a need for more shelter beds.

4. Right 2 Dream Too hits another snag

Meanwhile, Portland’s plan to relocate Right 2 Dream Too may have another issue. The camp was supposed to move to the Central Eastside, but the land use board ruled this week a shelter could not be built on industrial land. Portland has already started paying for that move process, which the Oregonian reports means there could be little funding left to actually make the future move. The city has already spent $610,000 of its $1.1 million budget and has a contract to pay $436,000 more to contractors for the new site. That could leave a mere $31,813 if the city can’t recoup what it’s spent.

5. Farms pumping reservoir water damaging ecosystem

Oregon farmers are pumping underground reservoirs in order to grow crops in the desert ecosystem, but the Oregonian reports that decision is harming both wildlife and livelihoods. The paper’s investigation found the Oregon Water Resources Department has been doling out water rights without tracking how much water the reservoirs held. 

6. Boardman to test future of clean energy

Portland General Electric will conduct its first 24 hour test toward a biomass conversion later this year at its Boardman Coal Plant. The Statesman Journal reports the test is vital as PGE has until 2020 to either convert the coal plant to biomass or shut it down. For the test, the biomass material will come from the national forests and material will be delivered via truck. It will take about 80 truckloads to deliver the material.

7. Clackamas breaks ground for new education building

Backed by bonds and $8 million from the state, Clackamas Community College will break ground on its newest building this month. The $21.7 million project, known as Harmony Phase II, will eventually house health, science, workforce development and general education programs, according to the Portland Business Journal. The building is pledged to the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero Program, meaning it should be carbon-neutral when complete next fall.

8. 100 Best survey shows changing economy

Our 2017 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon survey launched last month, and OB Research Editor Kim Moore writes it has already pulled in businesses that reflect the changing face of the local economy, like Salt & Straw and Ergo Depot.