A Virginia consumers group said last week that it will run radio ads urging citizens to voice their concerns about Trigon Blue Cross and Blue Shield's plan to become a for-profit insurance company.
The Virginia Citizens Consumer Council said it will run spots on 60 stations urging people to contact the State Corporation Commission, which has the final say on the Trigon proposal.
The council is particularly concerned about Trigon's agreement to pay the state $175 million to make up for tax breaks it received as a not-for-profit company.
"The $175 million is not earmarked for anything. We want people to think about that while they have a chance," said Jean Ann Fox, the council's president. She said the money should be put into a charitable trust and used for healthcare.
Trigon policyholders are to vote on the conversion plan Sept. 6. If they approve, the corporation commission will start public hearings on the plan Sept. 9.
"Only 15,000 institutional group policyholders get to vote and receive shares of stock, not the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who are covered by those policies, and that includes retired state workers," Fox said.
Trigon spokeswoman Brooke Taylor said the plan is fair.
"It seems to me our conversion plan must be fair and equitable because we've got some people criticizing the plan because we are giving too much to large group policyholders, and others say the plan is providing too little to them," Taylor said.
Trigon carefully considered all the issues that have been raised for many months and cannot arbitrarily make changes at this point, Taylor said.