COLORADO BLUES: Despite Wellpoint’s Efforts, Anthem Deal Appears Cinched
"The long, bitter feud over the sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado just might be over," today's Denver Post reports, and the "apparent winner [is] Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc.." The nearest competing bidder, Thousand Oaks, CA-based Wellpoint Health Networks, which had cried foul on an earlier Blue Cross-Anthem arrangement in order to get its own foot back in the door, has called off its bid. In a two-sentence letter to the Colorado Blues' bankers yesterday, Wellpoint Chief Counsel Thomas Geiser scolded the Blues for recalcitrance on restrictions that would have cost Wellpoint $25 million to "muscle in" with its own purchase proposal. "[Y]ou have ... blocked us from making available to Coloradans our superior proposal," the Wellpoint letter read. That proposal would have created a charitable foundation of $150 million to "compensate" Colorado for the Blues's for-profit conversation. The Anthem purchase agreement, by contrast, provides "a minimum of $140 million" for charity. Blues spokesman Neil Westergaard said, "The letters we received from Wellpoint have always seemed to prompt further questions." He added, "Unless we receive something else, we're going to proceed" with the Anthem deal. But it's not over until it's over: Anthem spokesperson Don Stengele noted that while he hopes the deal goes smoothly, the Colorado Blues have "a continuing obligation to consider superior offers until the deal closes" (Hubler, 8/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.