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Insurance Department Will Hold Public Hearings on Proposed Consolidation of Highmark, Independence Blue Cross
Date:12/21/2007

Hearings will ensure consumers' interests are considered, protected

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To ensure the interests of consumers are protected, acting Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario today announced that the Insurance Department will hold public hearings during 2008 as part of its review of the proposed consolidation of Independence Blue Cross and Highmark Inc.

"Our highest priority is to see that consumers would be protected in any transaction of this type, so public input will be an integral part of the department's evaluation of the proposed consolidation," said Ario. "We will schedule public hearings across the state after we have gathered the necessary information and completed our initial analysis.

"With the full cooperation of Highmark and Independence Blue Cross, the public hearings could be held by early summer and a final decision could be rendered by the end of 2008."

If approved, the proposed consolidation would create one of the largest health insurers in the nation, with 2006 premiums in excess of $17.5 billion.

Ario noted that, to date, Highmark and Independence Blue Cross have answered 38 of the 71 questions the department sent to the companies in August.

"The department is analyzing information as it is received and intends to schedule public hearings after we have received and analyzed the companies' answers to all of our questions and conducted any necessary follow up, including an economic analysis of the Pennsylvania marketplace," he said.

The Insurance Department has engaged the services of The Blackstone Group to provide financial expertise in its review of the proposed consolidation of Independence Blue Cross and Highmark. In addition, the department has engaged the law firms of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen and Hangley Aronchik Segal & Pudlin to provide legal expertise on the proposed transaction.

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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