The Cincinnati City Council voted 5-2 last week to sue the University of Cincinnati over its plan to privatize the university's hospital.
Deputy City Solicitor Karl Kadon said the council wants the university to provide a specific plan for indigent care, of which the university hospital is a major provider, and guarantee some form of public accountability.
"Clearly, the aim of the council was to get some kind of accounting as to exactly what is going to happen to the tens of millions of public monies that have been poured into that institution," Kadon said.
The city's decision to file suit came days after a lawsuit by 12 taxpayers who want to block the deal. Also, two state representatives from Cincinnati, Democrats Mark Mallory and Sam Britton, introduced a bill in the state Legislature last week to give control of the university hospital to a public authority.
Advocates for the homeless sent a complaint to the Ohio Ethics Commission stating that four university trustees had conflicts of interest regarding the hospital vote.
The hospital had no comment on any of the recent actions challenging privatization but was preparing a written response to circulate to employees late last week.
The city council's motion was approved during a meeting in which 20 people spoke against the plan.
However, the city does not plan to file its lawsuit until September. "There is still room for folks to come together on this issue," Kadon said.
University trustees voted 6-3 on Aug. 1 to agree in principle to lease the 695-bed hospital to a private, not-for-profit corporation. The lease would take effect Jan. 1, 1997, pending the trustees' final approval of the plan, expected in October.
The hospital wants freedom from rules governing state agencies that it says raise its costs and prevent it from being a full partner in the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, a consortium of four hospitals.