Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio can remain in the national Blues system while it appeals the termination of its Blues license, a court has ruled.
The 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted the Ohio Blues a stay of a lower-court ruling that allowed the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to terminate the Cleveland-based affiliate.
The Nov. 4 ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells in Cleveland, who said it was unlikely the plan would prevail in its lawsuit to remain in the Blues.
With the stay, the association delayed indefinitely its plan to disconnect the Cleveland insurer, but it will continue deliberations over which of its other plans will inherit the Ohio territory.
The delay might not be long. The appeals court has agreed to hear the case soon, and the association said it could have a decision as early as January.
In issuing the stay, the appellate court ordered the Cleveland plan to post $32 million in bond and barred it from consummating its proposed sale of assets to Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
Wells said the plan's license agreement with the national Blues probably terminated automatically in September as the result of a lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, which sought the appointment of a trustee to oversee the plan's assets.
Wells said the plan's continued use of the Blues name and trademark was likely to confuse consumers and infringe on the rights of the association, which owns them (Nov. 11, p. 8).