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DOJ widens Blue Cross probe across several states



The U.S. Justice Department is widening a probe of Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans in several states, examining whether they are effectively raising health-insurance premiums by striking agreements with hospitals that stifle competition from rival insurers. Federal investigators, as well as some state attorneys general, have sent civil subpoenas to "Blue" health plans in Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and the District of Columbia, according to people familiar with the matter. The investigation is looking at whether dominant health plans around the country are forcing hospitals to sign anticompetitive contracts that inhibit them in doing business with their rivals. The Justice Department's investigation comes amid efforts by the administration of President Barack Obama to rein in rising costs as part of its sweeping healthcare overhaul.
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