Anthem-WellPoint Deal A Windfall for Two States


John Carroll

The Anthem-WellPoint merger is a done deal, thanks to buyer Anthem's generous offerings to two states whose approvals were needed to create the largest health insurer in the country. The merged entity, to be called WellPoint and have headquarters in Indiana, will have 28 million members in 13 states.

Anthem chairman Larry Glasscock will serve as CEO of the new company, with WellPoint's CEO Leonard Schaeffer becoming the chairman. "This merger is a great strategic and geographic fit," Schaeffer tells the Los Angeles Times.

It certainly appears to be a great fit for California and Georgia.

When California insurance commissioner John Garamendi backed off his heated opposition to the Anthem-WellPoint merger, he left with a smile, carrying off some $265 million in pledges from the managed care giant for programs that catered to the uninsured and underserved areas of the state.

The charitable contributions he wrangled from the deal include $35 million for health care clinics, $15 million to provide coverage for uninsured children, and $15 million to cover the cost of a training program for new nurses — all on top of $200 million over 20 years for programs to enhance health care quality.

Three days after the California settlement was announced in mid-November, Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine concluded that the citizens of his state "deserved better." And if Anthem wanted his blessings on the deal — which includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia — he told reporters, it would required some "sweetening."

On November 30, Oxendine approved the deal after Anthem agreed to provide a total of $126.5 million for health care programs in his state. Georgia for the next 20 years will receive 2 percent of the Anthem investment stock portfolio to buy bonds to expand and improve rural health centers in the state, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Anthem expects to build telemedicine centers at 36 rural hospitals and clinics in the state. "It is vitally important to our state to ensure that our rural citizens have equal access to the best possible health care," Oxendine tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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