California regulators, under fire for their handling of the proposed merger of Anthem and WellPoint Health Networks, agreed to hold a public hearing on the controversial deal.
The state Department of Managed Health Care, which was poised a month ago to approve the merger without a hearing, now plans to take public testimony on the $16 billion deal July 9 in Sacramento.
A separate hearing is scheduled for tomorrow by the state Insurance Department, which also must sign off on the merger.
Federal regulators already have approved the merger, which would create the nation's largest health insurer with 28 million members.
Of the 11 states that have a direct say over the deal, California is the only one that has yet to give its go-ahead. At issue is whether $147 million to $356 million in bonuses and severance that WellPoint plans to pay executives when the deal closes would lead to higher premiums for members of the insurer's Blue Cross of California subsidiary.
Shareholders of both Anthem and WellPoint are scheduled to vote on the merger Monday.