Maine's superintendent of insurance last week conditionally approved the long-debated $120 million acquisition of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine by Indianapolis-based Anthem Health.
The acquisition fortifies Anthem's presence in New England, where the company owns Blues plans in Connecticut, New Hampshire and now Maine. Total enrollees number about 1.8 million, including about 440,000 in Maine.
The sale of the Maine Blues was first proposed last July and has been the subject of criticism from such groups as the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and the Maine Education Association, both of which expressed serious concerns about how the Maine Blues' switch to for-profit status would affect the breadth of coverage available to state residents.
Under the agreement approved by the state after a series of public hearings, $81.7 million of the sales price will be set aside for the Maine Health Access Foundation, a new charitable foundation to subsidize healthcare services in medically underserved
areas. Much of the northern half of Maine is sparsely populated.
Superintendent Alessandro Iuppa attached other conditions to the transaction. Anthem must:
* Continue to provide the same products and services.
* Remain in the Blues' existing statewide service area.
* Maintain the Blues' network of providers.
Those requirements were designed to address concerns of the MMA and others, which feared that Anthem may not provide coverage in less profitable areas.
"(The merger) would completely change the picture of our delivery system in Maine, and not for the better," said Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the MMA.
The sale is expected to close within several weeks.
In 1999, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine lost $17.3 million on premium revenue of $460.8 million.