California Insurer Faces Whistleblower Complaint Over Health Law Taxes
Kaiser Health News, Chad Terhune, April 17, 2018
A federal whistleblower complaint alleges that a major California insurer failed to pay an estimated $89 million in taxes on premium revenue as required under the Affordable Care Act.
Did Blue Shield Of California Short-Change Consumers On Refunds?
Kaiser Health News, Pauline Bartolone, July 18, 2016
A class-action lawsuit filed earlier this month claims that Blue Shield of California stiffed consumers on more than $34 million dollars in refunds on premiums they paid in 2014.
Blue Shield faces new criticism of shortchanging consumers in California
Los Angeles Times, Noam Levey, June 28, 2016
Blue Shield of California, already under scrutiny by state officials, is facing new criticism that it didn’t adequately pay back policy holders for excessively spending on administrative costs in 2014. Officials from the health insurer strongly rejected the allegation, made by a former company executive in a complaint to state regulators.
Blue Shield ‘Lifts The Veil’ On Executive Pay
Kaiser Health News, Chad Terhune, May 26, 2016
In its first detailed disclosure on executive pay, nonprofit Blue Shield of California said Chief Executive Paul Markovich made $3.5 million last year – a 40 percent increase since he took the top job in 2013.
Nonprofit Blue Shield accused of backing out of $140-million charity pledge
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, November 17, 2015
California regulators and consumer groups say insurance giant Blue Shield of California is reneging on a $140-million charitable pledge it made to win approval for a big acquisition.
Blue Shield of California files suit against whistleblower
Healthcare Dive, Heather Caspi, November 11, 2015
Nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California is going after its former public policy director, Michael Johnson, who left the company eight months ago and has since been a vocal critic of the insurer.
Blue Shield of California Sues Its Most Prominent Critic—A Former Senior Exec
Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen, November 10, 2015
Johnson told Nonprofit Quarterly that “this is a classic SLAPP suit.” (SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation” and refers to a suit intended to silence critics or opponents by hitting them with expensive litigation that would cause them to cease their criticism.) He said, “There’s no doubt at all that this is about threatening to bury me in legal costs and get me to back down.”
Insurer Blue Shield sues ex-executive who became nonprofit's critic
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, November 9, 2015
Johnson worked at Blue Shield for 12 years and left in March. Soon after, he launched a public campaign against Blue Shield and criticized the nonprofit for shortchanging the public and operating too much like its for-profit competitors. The California Franchise Tax Board cited some of those same reasons last year in revoking the insurer's longtime exemption to state income taxes.
Blue Shield may be heading to showdown with regulators over executive pay
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, October 22, 2015
In response to mounting criticism, Blue Shield of California's chief executive is vowing to improve the nonprofit insurer's poor ratings from patients and to disclose more about executive compensation. But CEO Paul Markovich warned that certain details on executive pay will remain secret, portending a potential showdown with regulators.
Blue Shield's deal with regulators on $1.2-billion acquisition draws fire
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, October 8, 2015
Beleaguered insurer Blue Shield of California won state approval for its $1.2-billion acquisition of a Medicaid health plan, but the nonprofit company's deal with regulators drew heavy criticism.
Questions about Leon Panetta, Blue Shield of California, & The Nonprofit Sector
Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen, September 16, 2015
Some of the very important side benefits from Michael Johnson’s ongoing scrutiny of Blue Shield of California’s efforts to get back its tax exempt status are the lessons for nonprofits overall.
Blue Shield of California Does It Again: Huge, Undisclosed Compensation Hikes for Top Brass
Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen, September 2, 2015
Does it make a whit of difference in the behavior of Blue Shield of California that it purports to be a nonprofit and is appealing a decision of the California Franchise Tax Board to pull the mammoth health insurer’s tax exemption? Apparently not; Blue Shield seems content to test the Board’s potential appreciation of the insurer’s nonprofit bona fides by increasing the executive compensation paid in 2012 by $24 million, an increase of 64 percent over 2011—and with barely a scintilla of public disclosure.
Big hike in executive pay at nonprofit Blue Shield draws state scrutiny
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, September 1, 2015
Nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California boosted executive compensation by $24 million in 2012 — a 64% jump over the previous year — according to a confidential state audit reviewed by The Times. The health insurance giant won't say who got the money or why. But Blue Shield's former public policy director, Michael Johnson, who left this year and is now a company critic, said senior officials at the insurer told him that former Chief Executive Bruce Bodaken received about $20 million as part of his 2012 retirement package, on top of his annual pay.
Revealed audit stings Blue Shield of California's image
Healthcare Payer News, Anthony Brino, July 7, 2015
The case against Blue Shield of California’s tax-exempt status is growing, presenting an additional $40 million to the tax bill, but also the possibility of more drastic state action.
California tax officials blast Blue Shield in audit
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, July 5, 2015
In a scathing audit, state tax officials slammed nonprofit health insurer Blue Shield of California for stockpiling "extraordinarily high surpluses" — more than $4 billion — and for failing to offer more affordable coverage or other public benefits.
Blue Shield's proposed acquisition of Care1st faces tough scrutiny
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, June 8, 2015
A top California regulator vowed a "deep dive" into a $1.2-billion acquisition proposed by Blue Shield of California amid criticism that the nonprofit insurer is shortchanging the public. Shelley Rouillard, director of the state Department of Managed Health Care, signaled tough scrutiny ahead for Blue Shield's proposed purchase of Medicaid insurer Care1st Health Plan at a hearing she held Monday at the request of several consumer groups.
Blue Shield faces more heat over nonprofit status, $1.2-billion deal
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, June 5, 2015
Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California is facing more questions over its loss of tax-exempt status as it tries to win state approval of a $1.2-billion acquisition. A former Blue Shield executive is accusing the nonprofit insurer of giving contradictory answers to state officials about its corporate structure. And consumer advocates are calling on Blue Shield to disclose details of a state audit that examined the company’s taxpayer subsidy.
Will Blue Shield of California eventually convert to for-profit?
Healthcare Dive, Heather Caspi, May 13, 2015
Efforts by consumer advocates to put Blue Shield of California in the spotlight have been making headlines since the healthcare giant lost its tax-exempt status in March, and following their success in calling for a public hearing over BSCA's proposed $1.25 billion acquisition of Care1st, the pressure appears to be mounting. The voice behind this pressure is former BSCA Director of Public Policy Michael Johnson.
Thanks to whistleblower, Blue Shield's $1.25 billion California acquisition under review
San Francisco Business Times, Chris Rauber, May 7, 2015
The state Department of Managed Health Care is reviewing Blue Shield of California's $1.25 billion bid to acquire Medi-Cal specialist Care1st, after complaints from whistleblower Michael Johnson, a former Blue Shield executive, and several consumer groups. A hearing on the deal is scheduled for early June.
Blue Shield's $1.25-billion deal for Care1st faces more state scrutiny
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, May 7, 2015
State regulators will hold a hearing next month on Blue Shield of California's proposed acquisition of Medicaid insurer Care1st for $1.25 billion.The California Department of Managed Health Care said both companies will explain their rationale for the deal at the June 8 hearing in Sacramento. The public will also have a chance to chime in.
It's time to make Blue Shield of California a for-profit insurer
FierceHealthPayer, Brian Eastwood, May 4, 2015
The year 2015 has not been kind to the Golden State's third-largest insurer. In March, Blue Shield of California lost its tax exempt status, then faced scrutiny for a $1.2 billion acquisition, the cost of which it only revealed after public pressure. All this while a former executive campaigns to turn the nonprofit insurer into a for-profit company.
The NCRP Impact Awards: Questions about the Blue Shield of California Foundation
Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen – April 7, 2015
One of the winners, though, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, has a somewhat troubling aspect—and it’s not the foundation’s philanthropy. It’s the parent organization, Blue Shield of California.
Your Call with Rose Aguilar (audio)
KALW – April 2, 2015
How do non-profit health insurance companies like Blue Shield operate? On the April 2nd edition of Your Call, we’ll have a conversation with Michael Johnson, a former Blue Shield policy director who says the company is no different than its for-profit competitors. He recently resigned over high premiums, multi-million dollar salaries, and billions in profits. The state recently stripped Blue Shield of its tax-exempt status. Johnson says Blue Shield should give back the profits it made while it received tax breaks.
Blue Shield of California is under new pressure to lower rates
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune – March 27, 2015
With billions of dollars in reserve, nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California is facing new pressure to offer better prices for its policies. Despite its nonprofit status, the health insurance giant is usually on par or priced slightly above its for- profit rivals, according to a review of rates and interviews with insurance agents and industry officials.
A Radical Proposal to Convert the Assets of Blue Shield of California
Nonprofit Quarterly, Ruth McCambridge – March 24, 2015
Michael Johnson, quoted in Rick Cohen’s newswire of last week talking about some of the same issues, is the former Director of Public Policy at Blue Shield of California. As readers may remember, Blue Shield recently had its state tax exemption revoked because it was acting more like a for-profit than a nonprofit. Now, Johnson has written in a blog at healthinsurance.org about his own resignation from that organization two weeks ago.
Blue Shield seeks to avoid disclosing its price for Care1st
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune, March 20, 2015
Nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California, already under scrutiny for its huge cash reserves and lack of disclosure, is refusing to say how much it's spending to acquire a Monterey Park insurance company and is seeking confidentiality from state regulators.
Blue Shield Of California Loses Its Tax-Exempt Status (audio)
NPR Morning Edition, Richard Gonzales -- March 19, 2015
One of California's largest health insurers, Blue Shield of California, could be on the hook for a massive tax bill after the state revoked its tax-exempt status. The company is appealing the decision which could cost the health insurer tens of millions of dollars a year. The dispute comes as the nonprofit is facing mounting criticism for operating like a for-profit company.
CA Pulls Tax-Exempt Status of Blue Shield of California
Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen – March 19, 2015
This is a story of major significance to nonprofits and to healthcare. The California Franchise Tax Board pulled the tax exemption of Blue Shield of California last August, but the news is just being reported now. The decision on Blue Shield’s tax status follows the resignation of its longtime public policy director, Michael Johnson, who charged that Blue Shield had been “shortchanging” its California customers and behaving like its for-profit competition.
Why did it take 7 months to learn Blue Shield lost tax-exempt status?
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune -- March 18, 2015
Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California and state tax authorities both came under fire for not disclosing seven months ago a landmark decision taking away the insurer's tax-exempt status, which had been in place since 1939.
Blue Shield of California Loses Its State Tax Exemption
Kaiser Health News, Jenny Gold – March 18, 2015
California tax authorities have stripped Blue Shield of California, the state’s third largest insurer, of its state tax exemption and ordered the company to file returns dating to 2013, potentially costing the company tens of millions of dollars. At issue in the unusual case is whether the company is doing anything different from its for-profit competitors to warrant its tax break. As a nonprofit company, Blue Shield is expected to work for the public good in exchange for the state tax exemption.
Blue Shield's lost tax exemption shines spotlight on not-for-profits
Modern Healthcare, Bob Herman – March 18, 2015
A recent revocation of Blue Shield of California's not-for-profit tax status raises questions of whether insurers and not-for-profit providers are doing enough to keep irate taxing bodies from following California's lead.
With billions in the bank, Blue Shield of California loses its state tax-exempt status
Los Angeles Times, Chad Terhune – March 18, 2015
Authorities have revoked the tax-exempt status of nonprofit Blue Shield of California, potentially putting it on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in state taxes each year. The move by the California Franchise Tax Board comes as the state's third-largest health insurer faces fresh criticism over its rate hikes, executive pay and $4.2 billion in financial reserves. Michael Johnson, who resigned as public policy director last week after 12 years at the company, said the insurer has been "shortchanging the public" for years by shirking its responsibility to Californians and operating too much like its for-profit competitors.