Kansas Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius in February denied Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's proposal to acquire Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, saying it would raise consumer premiums too much. Policyholders of the Kansas Blues plans approved the $321 million buyout last in Janaury.However, on Feb. 19, the board of directors of the Kansas Blues unanimously voted to appeal Sebelius' decision blocking the acqusition by Indiana-based Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Lawyers for the companies will file the appeal in Shawnee County District Court, said Graham Bailey, a spokesman for the Kansas Blues plan. A judge would then decide whether Sebelius' decision was justified based on the evidence she had before her.

Kansas Blue Cross executives contended that the company needed to merge with a larger one to remain competitive and win contracts with large companies. The merger was announced in April 2001.

Anthem is a publicly traded company covering more than 7 million people in eight states. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is a mutually held company consisting of 171,000 policyholders. Some of its policyholders are companies that buy policies for employees.

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