NCBA Warns CUs To Watch Case Of Minnesota HMO

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The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) is urging credit unions to pay close attention to what it termed a "brewing" situation related to a consumer-owned health maintenance organization (HMO) in Minnesota.

At issue is an effort by the state to appoint Glen Taylor to chair the board of HealthPartners, a cooperative based HMO, against the wishes of the co-op's membership.

"The foundation of every consumer-owned cooperative is democratic control by its member-owners," said NCBA President Paul Hazen in a letter to Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch. "While your interest in ensuring that Minnesota consumers are well-served by HealthPartners is laudable, your effort to subvert the control consumers have over the healthcare business they own is an unprecedented challenge to the first and most important principle of cooperative ownership-democratic member control."

The move means the state "challenges the right of every cooperative member in the state to elect the directors who govern the business they own," said Hazen.

CUNA COO Pete Crear, who is the immediate past chairman of the NCBA, added, ""This situation sets a dangerous precedent. All cooperatives, including credit unions, should be concerned and watch this carefully."

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