Four Democrats on the Ways and Means health subcommittee, including Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the proposed $16.4 billion acquisition of WellPoint Health Networks by Anthem, saying consolidation within the health plan industry could be a cause of double-digit premium growth in recent years. In a letter to FTC Chairman Timothy Muris, the lawmakers said they were concerned that combining "the financial assets and market power of Anthem-WellPoint would further increase consolidation and make it even more difficult for individuals to have access to affordable health insurance." They also expressed concern that the merger would spur more for-profit conversions of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, changing the plans' "focus from meeting community needs to meeting needs of Wall Street." Anthem, based in Indianapolis, and WellPoint, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., announced their agreement late last month. The deal would create the nation's largest health insurer and bring Blues plans in 13 states under control of a single for-profit company. Read the letter. -- by Tony Fong
Lawmakers seek FTC probe of Anthem-WellPoint deal
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