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CLEVELAND-Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio last week agreed with state regulators to discontinue its efforts to be acquired by Nashville, Tenn.-based Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., effectively ending the giant hospital chain's gambit to buy the Blues plan for $299.9 million.

The Ohio Department of Insurance previously had ruled against approving the proposed deal (BI, March 17), arguing that it would change the Blues plan's nature as a mutual insurance company. Although the plan had 30 days to appeal, the new settlement with the state includes giving up that right. Under the agreement, Ohio BC/BS President Kent Clapp will continue in his job, but company Chairman John Burry Jr. will leave with benefits, deferred compensation and pension totaling $14.4 million. The insurer also has agreed to drop most of its outstanding litigation involving control over BC/BS of Ohio and other matters relating to the Columbia/HCA deal.