Chartered Health Plan sale could leave significant unpaid bills

Chartered Health Plan sale could leave significant unpaid bills

By Mike DeBonis , Updated: February 22, 2013

The largest manager of heath care for low-income D.C. residents is on the cusp of finalizing a sale, but the transaction could leave tens of millions of dollars of medical bills in limbo.

Two officials familiar with the transaction but not authorized to speak publicly said Friday that court papers should be filed before day’s end notifying a judge that Chartered Health Plan’s assets will be sold to Philadelphia-based AmeriHealth Mercy. The terms of the sale were not immediately available, but AmeriHealth Mercy, which has been in talks with Chartered for months, is not expected to assume its liabilities, including unpaid medical claims that could total $40 million or more.

Chartered, owned by businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, was placed in city receivership by insurance regulators last October and has been in the public eye since Thompson became embroiled in campaign finance investigations nearly a year ago. It manages the health care for about 110,000 D.C. residents.

The proceeds from the sale to AmeriHealth Mercy are not expected to cover the full cost of the unpaid claims, the officials said, leaving it unclear how providers — including local hospitals, clinics and doctors — will be paid for care they have provided.

Besides the sale proceeds, Chartered is hoping to recover income through a lawsuit against the city seeking reimbursement for what it considers illegally low Medicaid rates. But the city is fighting the lawsuit, and it is unclear how quickly the dispute might be settled. One of the officials said it is likely that medical providers will lobby the District government to pay the bills itself.

Michael Flagg, a spokesman for the city insurance department, declined to comment Friday morning. Wayne Turnage, the city health-care finance director, was not immediately available for comment.

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