As you likely know, Kaiser Permanente has announced its intention to acquire Group Health, and we’ve been talking about the process involved with producers, customers, our members, and many more people. The acquisition requires approvals by Group Health’s voting membership and state and federal regulators.
The first step is member approval. Since the acquisition announcement, we’ve held Town Hall meetings across the state, meeting with more than 1,000 members. On Saturday, Jan. 30, more than 1,600 Group Health members came together for a Special Meeting at the Westin in Seattle.
Eligible Group Health voting members engaged in a lively conversation, debating the pros and cons of the acquisition. At the end of the four-hour meeting, the membership cast an advisory vote: 1,094 in favor of acquisition, 179 not in favor, and 51 abstaining.
“We are pleased that so many members came forward to engage in a healthy conversation about the future of health care and the future of Group Health,” said Bob O’Brien, Health Plan Division executive vice president. “Members seem to be leaning in favor of the sustainable future that Kaiser Permanente is offering.”
Mail-in ballots are expected to be delivered to eligible voting member homes by mid-February along with a detailed voting guide that includes the advisory vote results. Completed ballots must be received by March 9. Additional town hall meetings also are being scheduled to answer questions members might have.
Voting results are scheduled to be announced when the Special Meeting of the Membership resumes March 12 at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal in Seattle. For the acquisition to proceed, more than two-thirds of the ballots cast must support the proposal.