The METROPOLITAN HEALTH PLANNING CORP., a regulatory agency, was responsible for health-care planning in Greater Cleveland from 1968-82. In 1975 it was designated a regional health-systems agency. The corporation was set up in 1968 to review hospital-expansion proposals in order to prevent duplication of services and help hold down consumer costs, and to assess health needs in Cuyahoga and adjoining counties. The impetus for such agencies came from the federal government under Pres. Nixon. With federal aid, the Metropolitan Health Planning Corp. initiated new programs, including a city ambulance service and dental education in the public schools. In 1974 the corporation commissioned a study of Ohio's Medicaid program. The corporation was governed by a 49-member Board of Trustees, consisting of local government officials and health-care providers and consumers. Lee J. Podolin was the first executive director; Robert E. Timko succeeded him in 1978.
Designated a health-systems agency by the National Health Planning & Resources Development Act, the Metropolitan Health Planning Corp. was one of 9 such regional agencies in Ohio, covering Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Lorain, and Medina counties. Its Board of Trustees was reduced to 30 but had essentially the same composition (doctors, hospital officials, health-insurance representatives, and consumers). Public officials in the 5 counties appointed 9 of the 17 consumers. The corporation operated on conditional status until 1978, while the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare investigated discrepancies in the appointment of certain board members. The Metropolitan Health Planning Corp. closely controlled regional health-facility construction and all phases of health planning. Unpopular in the medical community, the agency seldom approved hospital expansion, citing a surplus of area hospital beds. But the state repeatedly overrode the corporation's decisions, approving a major renovation of