Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is once again expressing concerns about the proposed $2.6 billion acquisition of Sierra Health Services by UnitedHealth Group.
Gibbons is calling on the U.S. Justice Department, which has yet to approve the deal, to carefully examine all aspects of the acquisition. Gibbons made the additional request in light of California regulators announcement last week that they would seek up to $1.33 billion in fines from UnitedHealth regarding alleged claims violations related to the insurers 2005 acquisition of PacifiCare.
Wrongful denials of covered claims, incorrect payments, lost documents and failure to resolve provider disputes are among the 133,000 alleged violations California regulators cited.
Far too many Californians were negatively affected by the PacifiCare and UnitedHealth merger, costing both consumers and physicians millions of dollars out of their own pockets, Gibbons said in a written statement.
Officials at Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth have acknowledged customer-service issues stemming from the PacifiCare merger and said they completed a top-to-bottom analysis and fixed many of the problems.
Last November, Gibbons sent a letter to the Justice Department raising concerns that the sale of Las Vegas-based Sierra Health would reduce competition and raise patient premiums. The state insurance commissioner approved the merger in September 2007. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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