UPDATE: Blue Cross Blue Shield sale would have been ‘great for a few and terrible for many’

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Blue Cross and Elevance Plan of Reorganization was withdrawn late Tuesday evening. The Wednesday and Thursday Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) public hearing, canceled. The hearing was set to discuss the conversion of Blue Cross from a mutual insurance company, a not-for-profit, owned by its members to an Elevance Health stock insurance company owned by shareholders, for-profit.

Up until Tuesday evening, Blue Cross was collecting votes. If two-thirds of voting members voted “for” the deal by proxy or in person on or by Feb. 21, Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple would have gotten the final say on Feb. 29.

Elevance, in its early Wednesday morning statement, supported the Blue Cross decision. “We will continue to meaningfully engage community members who are truly interested in better health outcomes and more affordable healthcare. We remain committed to this partnership and will work with BCBSLA on next steps in bringing that to reality.”

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Later, that same day, Temple issued a statement. He said  “the withdrawal of the application process forecloses further consideration of this matter.”

“I am grateful for the level of consideration brought to this process by Governor Landry, Chairman Talbot and the Insurance Committee and Chairman McMath and the Senate Health & Welfare Committee and other key stakeholders,” Temple said.

He was referring to the almost eight-hour hearing and the Joint Committee’s release of a summary reporting 30 concerns about the deal, including “regulator process and vote steering, the troubled history of Elevance health and the redirection of $3.1 billion from the policyholders to a new foundation.”

Temple said LDI received numerous public comments on this proposed transaction, and he read, considered and appreciated what they had to say.

When Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington, heard news of the withdrawal, he referred to the Blue Cross and Elevance deal as one that would have been  “great for a few and terrible for many.”

“Louisiana and her people are better served with our state nonprofit BCBS, ” he said. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I’m glad we came together, across party lines, to give this proposal a day in the sun. Thank you to the countless doctors and health care leaders that reached out to legislators to highlight the flaws of this acquisition.”

Sen. Jeremy Stine brought attention to the problems with the deal early last year, and called the withdrawal  a “victory.”

“However, this pause is just the beginning,” he said. “We believe this questionable proposal should never resurface.”

Stine wants to see a stand against conflict of interest and breaches of fiduciary duty. “We demand accountability. We call upon all 1.9 million members to voice their concerns and help ensure a transparent, ethical future for Blue Cross. Join me in urging the CEO and its board of directors to step down.”