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• Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (Wilkes-Barre, PA) and its managed care subsidiary, First Priority Health, has named Denise Cesare president/CEO. Cesare is the first woman to be named CEO of the health plan. She succeeds Tom Ward, who recently announced his retirement.
• PacifiCare Health Systems (Santa Ana, CA) reported 4Q98 and FY98 results. PacifiCare also said its board of directors has reapproved its share repurchase plan whereby it may repurchase up to 10% of its outstanding class A common stock and class B common stock. In addition, the company said it expects its 1999 effective tax rate to decrease. Revenues for FY98 totaled $9.5 billion, up 6% from FY97 revenues of $9 billion. The company recorded a FY98 net income, including pretax charges taken in 3Q98, of $202 million, $4.40 per share, compared to a FY97 net loss of $22 million, 75 cents per share. For the quarter, revenues were $2.3 billion, about the same as 4Q97 revenues. PacifiCare reported a 4Q98 net income of $59 million, $1.28 per share, compared to a 4Q97 net loss of $114 million, $2.78 per share.
• WellPoint Health Network (Thousand Oaks, CA) was recently ranked as the most admired healthcare company on Fortune’s annual list of America’s Most Admired Companies. WellPoint credits the ranking to steady growth and its customer-focused products and services. WellPoint moved up from the No. 3 spot on the healthcare company list last year.
• The Department of Justice (Washington) continues to scrutinize the proposed $1 billion merger between Aetna (Hartford, CT) and Prudential Insurance Co. of America’s (Newark, NJ) healthcare business, reported Best’s Insurance News. Aetna said the department has made a second request for information. The department needed more time to study the effects of the transaction, Aetna officials said, adding the company has complied with every request. Aetna still expects to close the transaction by the end of June.
• HIP Plan of Pennsylvania said last week it is suspending its operations April 30, reported American Health Line. The closing is a casualty of the collapse of HIP Health Plan of New Jersey (HIPNJ). HIPNJ Senior Vice President Susan Kavanagh said its "close cross-border relationship with many of our members does not make it feasible to continue operations . . . We will retain our license and hope to return to Pennsylvania in the future." The decision to withdraw from Pennsylvania, the company said, will not affect the operations of the parent company, HIP Health Plans, or its affiliates, HIP Plan of New York and HIP Plan of Florida.