Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mike Hatch"overstepped his bounds"

Minnesota’s Attorney Generalissimo Mike Hatch lost big today.

Judge finds for Medica in control case

In a victory for non-profits, a Hennepin County judge has ruled Attorney General Mike Hatch overstepped his bounds and wrongly accused Medica's board of wrongdoing. The ruling stems from Hatch's attempt to install a new Medica board of directors for the second time in four years.

In a sharply worded opinion, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman said the battle for control over Medica is over. He said the expensive, time-consuming suit against Medica and its board was only supported by overheated rhetoric and accusations of self-dealing. He said Hatch wrongly accused the new Medica's board of directors of wrongdoing. Zimmerman said Hatch's claims obscured the fact that - when the attorney general intervened at Medica in 2001 - it was government at its best protecting the public from waste and corruption. But the judge also said the results show the new board took a company from a national scandal four years ago to the number one non-profit health plan in the country.
(Source: MPR Online, August 18, 2005)


Will Hatch still run for Governor? It’s still unknown at this point, but conventional wisdom would say that Steve Kelley just got a big boost.

UPDATE: Here's the Star Tribune's story.

Judge says Hatch can't oversee Medica's board
Neal Gendler

A four-year battle between Attorney General Mike Hatch and Medica ended Thursday when a Hennepin County judge Thursday stripped Hatch of continuing oversight of the health insurer.

In a written ruling, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman called it "unfortunate" that Medica board members were "unfairly accused" and that the historic government-private partnership in cleaning up financial abuses at Medica had descended into "overheated rhetoric and accusations of self-dealing, deception and hijacking."

Hatch had alleged that he still retained control over Medica's board, eight members of which he'd appointed in 2001 after the health insurer was split from heath-care provider Allina after financial irregularities, including excessive travel, entertainment and consulting fees, were uncovered during an investigation by Hatch's office. He wanted those eight removed, claiming that they hadn't followed state law in involving policy holders in running the insurer.

Medica argued that the board's obligations to Hatch ended in 2002 with adoption of new corporate bylaws and official election of the board.

Zimmerman ruled that the state's allegations "are unproven and without merit," and that court supervision of Medica, and thus Hatch's authority over the board, was ended.

He said: "The attorney general's intervention in 2001 was government at its best -- protecting the public from corruption, waste and abuse." But the case "is about whether Medica's board acted honorably or illegally in taking Medica from a national scandal in 2001 to the position of being named the No. 1 nonprofit health plan in the country. At the end of the day, good people were unfairly accused. After a fair and impartial trial, their good name is restored to them."
(Source: Star Tribune, August 18, 2005)


Check back all day for continuing coverage of this story.

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