The 2,000 employees of Toledo, Ohio, won't find Riverside Hospital on their list of managed-care providers, at least for now.
On June 16, a Lucas County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court judge denied the hospital's request for a temporary restraining order to block the city's new health plan, which excludes Riverside. A hearing on a preliminary injunction, which would last longer than a restraining order, is scheduled for July 14.
The 271-bed hospital sued the city and its bidding agent, Cooperative Health Network, charging unfair bidding practices (June 20, p. 16). The network, which will also administer the health program, evaluated the bids behind closed doors.
In a written statement, the hospital said the bidding process was "replete with numerous instances of concealment, misrepresentation and misleading information."
Riverside also contends the city violated its own charter and Ohio law by delegating authority to the Cooperative Health Network, a private corporation.
The network was established with $25,000 of city money and has two members-the city and a local firefighters union.
Michael Collins, president of the network's board of directors, said Riverside's bid "wasn't sufficient" in terms of price, location, and past rate of use by city employees. He declined to reveal details of the bids.
All nine hospitals in the market submitted proposals, but to cut prices the city could choose just six, Mr. Collins said. "There was no concerted effort whatsoever not to have Riverside in the plan," he said.
Riverside President Carroll Ashley disagreed. He said he believes his hospital's bid was competitive. "If it was a money issue, we would have been in the network," he said.
City Attorney John Mattimoe said Riverside is "upset because they're in effect shut out of a large piece of business." He said healthcare is considered a professional service, and the law does not require that the city seek bids and that those bids be opened in public.
Riverside Hospital plans to complete an alliance with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio in July. The Blues administered Toledo's self-insured plan before it was replaced by the new system June 1.