Continued support as Kaiser Permanente is expected to acquire Group Health

From left to right: Donna Lynne, DrPH Executive Vice President of Kaiser Permanente; Elizabeth Kiker, Executive Director, Cascade Bicycle Club; Diana Birkett Rakow, President, Group Health Foundation Executive Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs, Group Health Cooperative

Cascade’s work, from our awesome events to outreach to low-income youth with Major Taylor to our new statewide focus, is only possible because of our incredible members — and long-term, strong sponsors. As Cascade completed a merger with Washington Bikes in Dec. 2015, we realized our partner for more than 13 years, Group Health, is being acquired by Kaiser Permanente.*

Curious about how the acquisition would affect bike riding in the region, and eager to talk about biking, we sat down for a talk with Donna Lynne, Executive Vice President of Kaiser Permanente and a new resident of Seattle. Coincidentally, in addition to riding the Seattle to Portland (STP) in 2006 and Ride the Rockies in 2009, I met Lynne when I was working to launch B-cycle bike share in Denver and Kaiser came on as a sponsor (see photo on left).

Because Group Health has been a supporter of Cascade for so long, as the title sponsor of the Group Health STP Presented by Alaska Airlines, and as an underwriter of the Major Taylor Program, we asked Lynne about Kaiser’s commitment to bike riding, community and the engagement Group Health has built over so many years in Seattle and Washington.

“We are very excited to be a part of programs that promote a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Lynne. “Like Group Health has done for more than a dozen years, we are proud to support organizations like Cascade whose programs align with our nonprofit mission to build healthier communities.”

Kaiser puts their money where their mouth is, too, setting aside 3 percent of their annual income in each region to invest in community engagement and healthy lifestyles. With the acquisition of Group Health, a new Group Health Community Foundation will be created to sustain health lifestyles and community engagement in the region — fueled by a $1.8 billion from Kaiser. And Kaiser has pledged another $800 million over 10 years towards community benefit.

After our conversation, we were thrilled about the acquisition opportunities for Cascade members and supporters, and eager to continue our great relationship with Group Health and build one with Kaiser Permanente.

“We are very grateful for Group Health’s longstanding partnership with Cascade. They’re not just investing in our events and programs, they’re investing in better bicycling in the whole region and improving lives through bicycling,” said Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker. “We’re excited about Kaiser Permanente’s acquisition of Group Health as it could mean additional support and growth in our community programs and events.”

And Donna Lynne promised to ride STP again in 2016, so you can see her on the ride and ask her questions yourself.

*Subject to approval by Group Health’s voting membership and by regulators, including the Washington state insurance commissioner and federal authorities.