The Service Employees International Union has set up a unit to campaign against efforts by WellPoint Inc. to acquire WellChoice Inc.[@@]

WellPoint, Indianapolis, has offered to pay $6.5 billion in cash and stock to acquire WellChoice, New York, through a merger.

WellPoint is the parent of many Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, and WellChoice is the parent of Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the carrier that holds the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licenses for New York City.

The SEIU, Washington, says it has started a service, WellPoint Watch, to scrutinize the WellPoint-WellChoice deal.

The SEIU has set up a Web site for the service at http://www.wellpointwatch.org/mergers.htm

The Web site will help Empire customers use e-mail and fax messages to ask “key decision-makers in New York and New Jersey” to hold a public hearing on the deal.

Officials in California required Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, and the old WellPoint Health Systems Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., to promise $250 million in support for underserved communities before they allowed the companies to complete their 2004 merger, the SEIU says.