Saturday’s meeting in downtown Seattle was a required step in the proposed acquisition, which would add Group Health to Kaiser’s 10.1 million members in eight states and Washington, D.C. All voting members of Group Health will receive ballots in early February.

Share story

More than 1,600 members of Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative came to the Westin hotel Saturday to hear details of a proposed acquisition by health-care giant Kaiser Permanente and cast advisory votes.

The special meeting of voting members launched a referendum on the future of the Northwest institution founded in 1947 by doctors whose notion of integrated care and coverage was once branded as radical and socialist. Kaiser has annual revenues of nearly $60 billion; Group Health has $3.5 billion in annual income.

The Saturday gathering was a required step in the deal, which would add Group Health to Kaiser’s 10.1 million members in eight states and Washington, D.C.

At the meeting, according to a Group Health spokesman, 1,094 people voted in favor of the resolution, 179 were opposed and 51 abstained. Saturday’s vote was advisory only, however.

The co-op has 27,000 registered voting members. For the deal to go forward, a two-thirds majority must vote for it by March 9. All voting members of Group Health will receive ballots in early February; a decision is expected to be announced March 12.

The state insurance commissioner’s office will begin a review when it receives a formal proposal from Kaiser officials. The review could take up to a year.