Friday, December 22, 2006

John Ford was United American Health Care's rainmaker.

Posted by on Fri, Dec 22, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Back in 2000-2001, the Detroit-based company that manages health care for Medicaid patients was in the ditch. Its publicly traded stock (symbol: UAHC) was selling for around $1. Business was lousy. It was about to lose its management contract with the state of Michigan. Then the company found financial salvation via a lifeline to Memphis and Nashville through Ford.

Using the time-tested Memphis practices of cronyism, strong-arming the state Senate, turning low-income Ford voters into revenue-generating customers, and -- according to a new federal indictment -- corruption, Ford helped turn UAHC around.

By 2002, UAHC was enrolling thousands of new members, most of them coming from Tennessee's TennCare plan. Its headquarters was still in Detroit, but its business was in Memphis and West Tennessee. Operating as OmniCare, the CEO was Ford's friend Osbie Howard, who was city of Memphis treasurer from 1992 to 1995 under Mayor Willie Herenton and Herenton's campaign treasurer in 1999. Another key executive was Stephanie Mebane Dowell, formerly Herenton's administrative assistant and later legislative director for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare until 2001. ...

Read the rest of Branston's City Beat column.

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