Pennsylvanias two dominant Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans said that the U.S. Justice Department has given them the green light to proceed with merger plans without concern that they are violating federal antitrust laws.
The Federal Trade Commission similarly concluded its review of the proposed consolidation of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia and Highmark in Pittsburgh.
The Justice Departments decision marked a significant milestone in the regulatory review of the controversial consolidation, Independence Blue Cross officials said in a statement.
The two plans are now waiting on state approval. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department recently announced a public comment period that would end no sooner than July 11, according to Independence Blue Cross. Independence is committed to working with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, state officials, the Legislature, and other stakeholders in an open and thoughtful review process, officials said in the statement.
Highmark officials said in a statement, The Justice Departments clearance confirms our position that the proposed combination of Highmark and IBC will have no adverse effects on competition in Pennsylvania. -- by Cinda Becker