Democratic leaders in the California Assembly ordered a public hearing on the planned $16 billion merger of Anthem, Indianapolis, and WellPoint Health Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif., after consumer groups raised concerns that state regulators were preparing to approve the deal behind closed doors. In the past, state regulators have held public hearings to ensure that healthcare-related mergers would not hurt consumers or providers. But the state Department of Managed Health Care, controlled by appointees of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has not scheduled a hearing on the Anthem-WellPoint merger. Consumer groups feared the deal would be rubber-stamped by Schwarzenegger, who they say has received $92,400 in contributions from WellPoint and its top executives. The merger, which would create the nation's largest health insurer with 26 million members in 13 states, has already been approved by the federal government and all but two states that have a say -- California and Georgia. Anthem and WellPoint shareholders are scheduled to vote on the proposals June 28. If all approvals are received by then, the deal could close as early as July 1. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. Democrats order Anthem-WellPoint hearing
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