Cincinnati-area physicians and other healthcare professionals approved a plan for the market's largest HMO, ChoiceCare, to become for-profit.
The vote by the plan's 3,105 participating providers, completed May 3, means ChoiceCare can sell up to 20% of its stock to a strategic partner. The HMO has had "preliminary contracts" with some national HMOs, spokesman Jose Marques said.
The approval was required by a class-action settlement stemming from a previous attempt by the HMO to become for-profit in the 1980s.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in that case filed several motions to block this month's vote, which were denied. Opponents said the reorganization would remove physicians' control and enrich ChoiceCare executives, which ChoiceCare denied.
The plan to go for-profit was approved by a 3-to-1 margin, with 89% of providers voting, the HMO said.
ChoiceCare, which has 285,000 enrollees, said it needs capital to expand into adjacent markets and develop new products, as other HMOs in the tristate region are doing.
The plan involves creating a for-profit holding company, ChoiceCare Corp., to run the plan, which now is controlled by a not-for-profit foundation (See related story, p. 45).
After the reorganization, participating physicians could buy up to 20% of the stock and employees could buy up to 2%.