Pennsylvanias Senate Banking and Insurance Committee said a proposed merger between insurers Highmark and Independence Blue Cross would reduce competition and hurt consumers and called for state regulators to reject the deal.
The public comment period on the merger, which would create the nations third-largest Blues plan, closed on Oct. 14. The committee has no authority to prevent the deal, but had 45 days from the close of public comment to submit comments to State Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario. He may issue a decision on the deal on or after Jan. 27.
The Senate committee voted 10-4 on a recommendation that Ario reject the merger. The committee voted identically on a second recommendation to set conditions should the deal win approval. Among the conditions: prevent the newly created Blues giant from converting to a for-profit company without enabling legislation; yearly disclosure of executive and director salaries and bonuses; and set restrictions on reimbursement contracts with providers. -- by Melanie Evans