Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) chastised the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for trying to terminate its license with CareFirst Blue and Cross Blue Shield, Owings Mills, Md., after Maryland moved to take over the health plan. In a letter to Blues association President Scott Serota, Stark accused the association of betraying its public-service mission and criticized it for running advertisements in the Washington area stating that CareFirst is no longer a Blues affiliate. "The last time I looked you were a trade association -- not an omnipotent force that could override state laws at will," Stark said.
The association sued to terminate its contract with CareFirst last week after Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich signed legislation replacing almost half of CareFirst's board and barring a for-profit conversion for five years. The association said such an action automatically terminates the licensing agreement. Maryland filed for an injunction against the association, while CareFirst sued the state for trying to take over. A federal judge imposed a stay on all pending litigation until June 3 to give the parties time to negotiate a resolution. At deadline, Blues association officials could not be reached for comment. -- by Tony Fong