A local development company has big plans for Saltzer, starting with a new name

Saltzer Medical Group has a new owner: a company founded by local developer Tommy Ahlquist.
Saltzer Medical Group has a new owner: a company founded by local developer Tommy Ahlquist. Idaho Statesman file

A company co-founded by local developer Tommy Ahlquist has closed on a deal to buy Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa. There are changes in store for the 58-year-old medical group, starting with a new name: Saltzer Health.

The deal was announced in a news release Tuesday from Ball Ventures Ahlquist, or BVA. Saltzer was owned by a subsidiary of McKesson, a global health care company.

John Kaiser, an OB/GYN physician, has been named CEO of Saltzer Health Clinics. Kaiser was president of Saltzer and has been with the practice since it was independent, while it was being sold to St. Luke’s and through the court-ordered reversal of that sale, which led to its purchase by the McKesson subsidiary.

“At Saltzer Health, we promise to put the patient and the provider first and deliver care at a cost that isn’t hidden or confusing,” Kaiser said in the news release.

Saltzer was based in Nampa but had operations in Caldwell, Meridian and Boise as well. It’s a multispecialty practice — offering primary care for all ages and specialty care such as general surgery, ear/nose/throat, neurology, ophthalmology, sports medicine and sleep medicine.

Ed Castledine, a former St. Luke’s Nampa executive who joined BVA in 2018, is now CEO of Saltzer Health and “will support Dr. Kaiser and work on business development and expansion plans,” the news release said.

Castledine said in the press release that Saltzer will “bring transparency to the marketplace and choice to consumers. ... We will incorporate cutting edge technology focused on the patient experience.”

Below is our previous reporting from Jan. 8, 2019:

The company co-founded by local developer Tommy Ahlquist announced Tuesday it plans to buy Saltzer Medical Group, which would put the practice back in local hands.

“We are thrilled with this opportunity and honored to build upon an exceptional legacy of care that the Saltzer team has provided for so many years,” Ahlquist said in a news release.

Ahlquist, the CEO of Ball Ventures Ahlquist or BVA, has a medical background as an emergency physician.

Ed Castledine, a former hospital administrator for St. Luke’s Health System who is now a BVA executive, said he has “high admiration for the legacy and tradition of this company dating back to its founding by Dr. Joseph Saltzer.”

Castledine said the acquisition “will provide a foundation as we work to increase choice and lower healthcare costs throughout the Treasure Valley and beyond.”

Castledine told the Statesman that BVA doesn’t foresee any need to cut staff. “Instead, we’re focused on growth,” he said. “We do anticipate hiring as we grow.”

Saltzer currently has about 50 medical providers and between 250 and 300 employees, he said.

Castledine declined to go into specifics about what the company’s growth strategy is with regard to Saltzer, but he said the eventual goal is to “increase access to high quality and affordable health care, and do so in a very transparent way.”

John Kaiser, a physician and president of Saltzer, called the deal a “growth opportunity.”

The Saltzer board has approved BVA’s offer, and the deal is expected to close in a matter of weeks, the news release said.

The practice was owned by its doctors for most of its history, but the past several years saw it changing hands and the subject of litigation.

St. Luke’s Health System bought Saltzer in 2012, despite warnings from Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden that the buyout may violate antitrust laws. The next year, the Federal Trade Commission, Idaho Attorney General’s Office and its competitors Saint Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital sued over the acquisition.

The case culminated in a court trial that went on for weeks. The trial also led to disclosure of internal documents about what happened within Saltzer during the buyout.

A federal judge decided the deal was illegal and ordered St. Luke’s and Saltzer to unwind it. That divestiture took years, but Saltzer eventually was sold to a subsidiary of global health care giant McKesson, in 2017.

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Watchdog reporter Audrey Dutton joined the Statesman in 2011. Before that, she covered finance policy in Washington, D.C., during the financial crisis. She also worked as a reporter in Maryland, Minneapolis and New York. Audrey hails from Twin Falls.