Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon said Wednesday it will shift 70 jobs to the Rogue Valley from Salem.

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon said Wednesday it will shift 70 jobs to the Rogue Valley from Salem.

The multi-state insurer also has named a general manager for its Medford office.

Regence Oregon President Angela Dowling said the jobs were being transferred to the Regence Health Care Services Operations Center on Commerce Drive because of its state-of-the-art capabilities. The local office services Regence Medicare members in Oregon, Washington, Utah and Idaho.

"We're consolidating the operations," Dowling said. "We'll still maintain a presence in Salem, but our footprint will be significantly smaller."

She said the present Salem employees will have the option to transfer to the Rogue Valley.

"We'll start the transition over the next several weeks, but we're giving the employees several weeks to make a decision so they can have time to visit Medford first," said Dowling, after meeting with Medford employees.

Penny Garrett, who has been with Regence since 2007, has worked in Salt Lake City and, most recently, Tacoma, Wash., where she was customer service director. Garrett takes on the added role of general manager in Medford.

The 70 additional positions will augment 157 on-site Medford employees and 52 people who work out of home offices.

The Rogue Valley has seen an ebb and flow from customer care call center operations in recent years. Among those that have set up shop and departed are Sprint, U.S. Cellular and CenturyLink. Gourmet food and gift retailer Harry & David regularly expands such operations seasonally.

Last May, Regence BlueCross BlueShield said it was laying off 56 employees across four states, including 14 in Medford. Another 30 employees saw their jobs shifted to Cognizant Technology Solutions, headquartered in Teaneck, N.J.

Statewide, Regence employs more than 2,000 people who track 750,000 members.

"We expect the number of employees in Oregon to remain consistent, but we will see gains here in Medford," Dowling said.

Dowling said the jobs shifted to Cognizant last year were administrative, back-room functions.

"The additions made in Medford will be customer-facing and support. We always want our Regence employees interacting with our members to be as close as possible."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at Edge.