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Byline: Kyung M. Song
Jul. 16--Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler yesterday denied Premera Blue Cross' proposed switch to a for-profit insurer, all but dealing a terminal blow to Premera's bruising two-year battle to shed its nonprofit status.
In his 58-page ruling, Kreidler resoundingly rejected Premera's application on grounds that it could expose policyholders to excessive premium increases, particularly in Premera's stronghold in Eastern Washington.
Kreidler also concluded that Premera would transfer less than its full fair value to new charitable foundations after dissolving as a nonprofit, as required by law. And he dismissed Premera executives' assurances that they intended to remain in Mountlake Terrace, saying a for-profit Premera stood a high likelihood of becoming an acquisition target.
The ruling means that Premera, the state's largest health insurer, will remain nonprofit -- at least for now. And it preserves Washington as a bastion of nonprofit insurers, with Premera, Regence BlueShield and Group Health Cooperative controlling 75 percent of commercial …