Chartered Health Plan on cusp of sale to AmeriHealth Mercy

December 3, 2012

Thompson’s run as a health-care mogul appears to be nearing an end. (C-SPAN)

It appears embattled businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson is about to be out of the health-care business altogether.

His Chartered Health Plan, a longtime city provider of government-paid health care for the needy, is in final purchase negotiations with AmeriHealth Mercy, a Philadelphia firm that runs many similar plans across the country. Michael Flagg, a spokesman for the D.C. insurance department, and Michelle Davidson, an AmeriHealth spokesman, confirmed the talks.

Davidson said AmeriHealth is interested in buying “certain assets” from Chartered, indicating the deal is unlikely to be a wholesale purchase. Flagg said in a statement the two firms have entered into a “letter of intent regarding a potential transaction.”

Chartered’s viability has been in serious question since October, when city officials disclosed significant irregularities in the company’s financial statements and announced it was placing the firm into receivership. Yet the company retains a popular brand and remains the city’s dominant health-care contractor, managing the care of about 110,000 District residents.

AmeriHealth Mercy has entered a bid to enter the Medicaid business with the D.C. government, Flagg said. In the spring, the city’s health-care finance director said that Chartered would be unlikely to keep its own contract as long as Thompson, implicated in a straw campaign donation scheme and the financing of an illicit “shadow campaign” for Mayor Vincent C. Gray, remained its owner.

Since federal agents raided his home and offices in March, Thompson has gradually withdrawn from the company he purchased at a bankruptcy sale in 1999. He stepped down as chairman of its board in April, and since October, company management has been in the hands of a city-appointed receiver, Daniel L. Watkins of Lawrence, Kan., who is empowered to sell the company or its assets.

As far as Thompson’s role in the sale goes, there is none: “There are no agreements with the holding company or its shareholder regarding any potential transaction or proceeds from such a transaction,” Flagg said in a statement.

An audit of the Chartered’s books expected to detail the irregularities is ongoing. A report is now expected by Dec. 20, Flagg said. More details on the potential sale are expected during an afternoon call with city officials.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · December 3, 2012