In the midst of turmoil over mergers in the for-profit insurance industry, the biggest non-profit carrier is also looking to make a deal to become even bigger.

The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan has long floated the idea of buying Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-based organization that offers insurance and care to about 600,000 people in Washington state and Idaho. Officials at both organizations signaled support for the deal in December.

This week they took another step towards the merger, as Kaiser finally submitted its application to acquire the smaller group. The deal that has to be approved by the 27,000 voting members of Group Health as well as state insurance regulators.

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