Carefirst timeline

June 1999: The Strategic Planning Committee of CareFirst BlueCross BlueSheld's board tells the board it is engaging a consultant and developing a strategic plan.

November 1999: The CareFirst board adopts a strategic plan calling for CareFirst to grow and have access to more capital. Although the plan doesn't identify conversion and acquisition as the only option to achieve the goals, it recognizes it as an attractive choice.

Summer 2000: CareFirst executives and investment bankers talk with Trigon Inc., the for-profit Virginia Blues plan, and Highmark, a nonprofit Pennsylvania Blues plan.

December 2000: Investment bankers tell CareFirst's board that Trigon is "the primary partnership candidate," but discussions should be held with Indiana-based Anthem Inc. and WellPoint Health Networks Inc. of California.

January 2001: CareFirst CEO William L. Jews tells the planning committee that the field of suitors has been narrowed to WellPoint and Trigon.

February 2001: Although Anthem has expressed interest in bidding, Jews, with advice from investment bankers, tells the board Anthem is not "a good strategic fit."

April 9, 2001: Shortly before adjourning, the General Assembly removes one potential barrier to conversion by dropping a requirement that CareFirst members vote on it.

April 26, 2001: Investment bankers tell the planning committee that the WellPoint offer is "clearly superior."

Nov. 20, 2001: CareFirst announces its plan to convert to for-profit operation and be sold to WellPoint for $1.3 billion.

January-April 2002: The Maryland General Assembly imposes added conditions on the deal: no executive bonuses, deal must be all-cash, burden of proof placed on CareFirst/WellPoint. Legislators react negatively to the deal.

March 7, 2002: As CareFirst files documents ahead of Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen's first round of public hearings, the public learns that executives of the company stand to pocket $33.2 million - including $9.1 million for Jews - if the proposed sale goes through.

April 29, 2002: Anthem announces plans to buy Trigon for $4 billion, causing opponents in Maryland to question the $1.3 billion price here.

Sept. 9, 2002: The Blackstone Group, investment banker advising Larsen, says CareFirst is worth more than $1.3 billion - probably hundreds of millions more.

Nov. 15, 2002: Jay Angoff, a consultant to Larsen, says the CareFirst executive bonuses violate state law.

Jan. 22, 2003: WellPoint and CareFirst announce a revised deal with more modest retention bonuses if the executives continue to work for WellPoint. It adds $70 million to the price - the amount of bonuses knocked out.

Feb. 4, 2003: Angoff testifies that the modified retention bonus plan still appears to violate state law.

March 5, 2003: Larsen rejects CareFirst's plan, writing in his 200-page report that the process the company used to develop the deal was deeply flawed and violated state law.

March 19, 2003: CareFirst says it won't appeal Larsen's ruling.

April 4, 2003: WellPoint says it won't appeal Larsen's ruling.

April 7, 2003: The General Assembly unanimously approves legislation that locks CareFirst's nonprofit mission into law. The legislation also gives state regulators the power to review pay and severance packages for executives and would force the replacement of CareFirst's Maryland board members.

April 11, 2003: The national association that controls the Blue Cross and BlueShield plans says the legislation may violate association rules, putting in jeopardy CareFirst's use of its valuable trademark. Delaware Insurance Commissioner Donna Lee H. Williams orders CareFirst not to change its board of directors, bylaws or charter without her OK.

April 15, 2003: D.C. Insurance Commissioner Lawrence H. Mirel asks Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to veto the legislation.

May 13, 2003: CareFirst sends Ehrlich a letter, saying that if he signs the legislation, it would prompt the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to terminate CareFirst's Blue Cross license. That, CareFirst says, would cause it to lose business, cut nearly 1,500 jobs and create uncertainty for members.

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