State Regulators Seek To Ensure Access to Care Under Anthem-WellPoint Deal
Department of Managed Health Care Director Cindy Ehnes on Wednesday said regulators are "appropriately struggling" with how best to assure that a merger between Indianapolis-based Anthem and California-based WellPoint Health Networks will not cause a decline in health care access for seven million state residents who receive coverage through WellPoint subsidiary Blue Cross of California, the AP/Indianapolis Star reports (AP/Indianapolis Star, 7/1). The merger, announced last October, would combine the companies under the name WellPoint and create headquarters in Indianapolis. The combined company would have $27.1 billion in assets, 40,000 employees and 26 million members in 13 states, including California. DMHC must approve the merger. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (D) cannot block the merger in its entirety, but he has the ability to deny Anthem's acquisition of the Blue Cross of California license. A DMHC hearing is scheduled for July 9 (California Healthline, 6/29).
According to the AP/Star, DMHC is "looking to an uncertain landscape beyond the merger" for the state's Blue Cross members. Ehnes noted that the department does not have the authority to block a private sector merger and cannot regulate the company's health insurance premium rates. Ehnes said, "Please understand we are not in any fashion trying to give Blue Cross a pass on this." She added, "We will hold them to the law" (AP/Indianapolis Star, 7/1).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.