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Blue Cross wins delay of hearing

Regulators reschedule a meeting on complaints after the insurer asks for a detailed agenda.

July 17, 2007|Lisa Girion | Times Staff Writer

State regulators Monday postponed a hearing originally set for this week on complaints against Blue Cross of California, because its parent company has requested a more detailed agenda.

The hearing now is set for Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

The state Department of Managed Health Care, which oversees HMOs, said last week that it had received more than 1,600 complaints from policyholders and doctors in less than three years against Blue Cross, the state's largest health insurer.

Department Director Cindy Ehnes called the meeting to air policyholders' complaints about premium increases, retroactive revocation of coverage after a serious illness or injury, and other problems. The hearing also was to be a forum for gathering more information on about 1,200 physician complaints, which are mostly pay disputes.

The department said the hearing also would help it determine how well Blue Cross is measuring up to the promises its parent, WellPoint Inc. of Indianapolis, made in 2004 to win regulatory approval for the deal that created WellPoint.

WellPoint spokeswoman Shannon Troughton said the original notice and agenda were not detailed enough to satisfy open-meeting laws aimed at giving the subjects, such as the company, the opportunity to fully address issues brought forward and allowing the public to participate.

"Apparently the department agreed with us," Troughton said.

"We look forward to the upcoming meeting so that we can provide information to the department about their concerns with our successful merger," she added.

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