Opposition mounts to BCBS Louisiana, Elevance sale

More Louisiana officials are voicing opposition to the planned sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana to Elevance Health. 

In a Feb. 8 letter to state Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple, members of the Louisiana Senate's Health and Welfare Committee and Insurance Committee raised 30 concerns with the sale, according to a copy of the report published by NBC affiliate KPLC. 

The Louisiana State Hospital Association also came out against the deal Feb. 8, according to a report from nola.com. The association asked Mr. Temple to pause the deal until an independent evaluation of Elevance's activity in other states can be completed. 

Senators raised concerns about how BCBS Louisiana is conducting proxy voting for the deal, alleging it is not providing policyholders with unbiased information. They also raised concerns about civil and federal litigation Elevance Health is involved in and the company's rates of claims denials. 

In a statement shared with Becker's, a spokesperson for BCBS Louisiana said voting policyholders are provided with comprehensive information about the transaction. 

"We also would note that the process we are using to obtain proxies from our policyholders is accurate and is both consistent with Louisiana laws and with best practices used by publicly traded companies," the spokesperson said. 

In a statement shared with Becker's, a spokesperson for Elevance Health said it is "unfortunate that Louisianans continue to be subjected to misinformation" about the proposed sale. 

"The record is clear: Elevance Health is a trusted source of health coverage to more than 47 million people across the country while Louisiana ranks dead last by almost any public measure in healthcare," the spokesperson said. "Louisianians can't afford to let special interests who benefit from the status quo stand in the way of better healthcare, better health outcomes and a future that includes continued Blue leadership in the Bayou State." 

According to nola.com, the state's treasurer also expressed opposition to the deal Feb. 8, citing concerns the deal could cause premiums to rise. 

In an open letter, The Louisiana State Medical Society said it had voted against the proposed sale and urged patients who are policyholders to do the same. 

The opposition comes ahead of public hearings for the deal slated for Feb. 14. The deal must be approved by two-thirds of BCBS policyholders and the Louisiana insurance commissioner. 

The proposed sale has faced delays as officials in the state have expressed concerns with the deal. Elevance Health first announced its intent to buy BCBS Louisiana in January 2023, and the transaction was expected to close by early 2024. The two companies halted the proposed $2.5 billion sale in September in response to concerns from Louisiana's attorney general and other lawmakers. 

The companies submitted a revised proposal in December. 

Elevance Health owns 14 state Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. BCBS Louisiana would be its first BCBS acquisition in almost 20 years. Elevance and BCBS have jointly owned Healthy Blue, a Medicaid managed care plan in Louisiana, for more than 11 years. 

A spokesperson for BCBS Louisiana said the company "continues to believe that the proposed transaction with Elevance Health is in the best interests of our policyholders, members, providers and the people of Louisiana." 

"We have been committed to addressing the concerns of others, and that is why we delayed our transaction last year and have taken time to both listen to and talk with various stakeholders," the spokesperson said. "We remain committed to working with the Louisiana Department of Insurance on their review of the transaction, including our participation in the public hearing next week." 

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