NU Online News Service, Jan. 8, 3:53 p.m. – The Maryland Insurance Administration has scheduled public hearings in Baltimore from Jan. 28 through Jan. 31 on efforts by CareFirst Inc., Owings Mills, Md., to become a for-profit company and be acquired by WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Scheduled speakers include Jay Angoff, a consultant from Roger Brown & Associates, Jefferson City, Mo., a firm hired to help the state evaluate the due diligence that CareFirst performed before agreeing to the WellPoint offer.

Regulators also expect to hear from representatives from another consulting firm, LECG L.L.C., Berkeley, Calif., who will discuss how foundations have used charitable contributions generated by past conversions of nonprofit organizations to for-profit status, and from experts who will discuss the effects of the proposed deal on Maryland health care consumers.

No public testimony will be taken, regulators say.

WellPoint’s original acquisition plan called for it to acquire CareFirst for $1.3 billion. Maryland regulators have received a report from consultants suggesting that WellPoint ought to pay between $1.38 billion and $2.25 billion.

Maryland regulators say they have given CareFirst and WellPoint until Jan. 17 to amend their application for the CareFirst conversion.

CareFirst holds the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licenses for northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware. It provides major medical coverage for 3.2 million people.

WellPoint provides major medical coverage for 13 million people and holds the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licenses for Georgia and Missouri. The company also holds the Blue Cross license for California.