Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Thursday subpoenaed financial records from the state's seven largest health insurance companies.

Brown, a Democrat and presumptive gubernatorial candidate, is investigating whether the companies broke state laws when denying hospital and health care providers' claims.

The attorney general's office has subpoenaed records from Aetna Health, Anthem Blue Cross, CIGNA, Health Net, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and PacifiCare.

"We have been looking at these companies for a number of months and are very concerned that some of them are unjustly raising premiums and denying payment of legitimate claims," Brown said in a statement. "Not only are the rate increases devastating to Californians strapped by the economy, but in some cases, they are possibly illegal."

Brown said if his office finds violations of state consumer protection laws he will pursue legal action.

"Our best attorneys are going to get to the bottom of this, and where we find violations of California's unfair business laws, we intend to stop them," Brown said.

The subpoenas cover pay-for-service health plans under which doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for services performed. The companies have 30 days to submit the sough-after records.

The attorney general's office said it began in investigation in September, looking into the insurers' payment of claims submitted by physicians, hospitals and other health care providers.

The investigation reportedly began after news that California's five largest health insurance providers were denying insurance claims at rates of up to 39 percent.

Recently, Anthem Blue Cross announced it planned to raise premium rates by as much as 39 percent. The move has sparked criticism from Democratic state lawmakers and other officials.

On Thursday, the state Assembly Rules Committee voted to subpoena
Anthem Blue Cross for information about compensation to its California executives.

The committee is led by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, a Torrance Democrat who is running to succeed Brown as attorney general.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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