NU Online News Service, Dec. 28, 2:15 p.m. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., will succeed Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio, as the Medicare Part B carrier for Ohio and West Virginia June 30, 2002.

South Carolina Blue will handle claims for 2 million Part B beneficiaries, according to Nationwide.

Medicare is a federal program that pays for medical care for the elderly and the disabled. A Part B carrier handles claims for physician services, outpatient care and medical tests.

Nationwide announced in November that it wanted to leave the Medicare program. The federal government picked South Carolina Blue as the successor through a competitive bidding process, Nationwide says.

Nationwide says 580 employees in its Medicare operations will be joining South Carolina Blue, and 40 will be joining DynCorp, Reston, Va., the company in charge of supervising the Ohio and West Virginia Part B programs.

South Carolina Blue handles Medicare claims through a unit called Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators. Palmetto already administers Medicare claims for North Carolina and South Carolina, and it also processes Medicare claims nationally for the Railroad Retirement Board, Nationwide says.