California Action Against Anthem Blue Cross Rescissions Delayed
Last week, the Department of Managed Health Care admitted that it has not attempted to enforce an announced $1 million fine against Anthem Blue Cross because of concerns about lengthy legal proceedings, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In March 2007, the agency announced its plans to fine Anthem Blue Cross for illegally rescinding patients' health insurance policies.
Anthem Blue Cross confirmed that it has not been fined but said that it is in settlement negotiations with the state.
Amy Dobberteen, the DMHC's top enforcement officer, said that after more than a year of negotiating with Anthem Blue Cross, attempts to reinstate patients' policies have failed. Dobberteen said the agency is "pursuing vigorous enforcement now."
Anthem Blue Cross, a unit of WellPoint, has rescinded more individuals' health insurance policies than any other health plan in California, but it might sidestep more substantial regulatory action because of its size and legal resources, the AP/Chronicle reports.
DMHC Director Cindy Ehnes said Blue Cross has rescinded about 1,770 policies since Jan. 1, 2004. She said that Anthem Blue Cross has "the right to contest each [rescission], and that could tie us up in court forever."
Ehnes said the situation with Anthem Blue Cross raises challenges that did not emerge in settlement talks with PacifiCare, Health Net or Kaiser Permanente, all of which have reached settlements with the agency over rescissions (Tayefe Mohajer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/4).