Anthem finishes deal for Medicaid provider Simply Healthcare

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Anthem Inc. has closed its purchase of Florida Medicaid managed care provider Simply Healthcare Holdings Inc., as the nation's second-largest health insurer continues to expand its government business.

Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said Wednesday in a statement that the deal gives his company a "strong foothold" in Florida's market for Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the government's coverage program for people who are over age 65 or disabled.

Terms of the deal, which was announced in December, have not been disclosed. The Miami Herald, citing an industry source with knowledge of the deal, valued the purchase at about $1 billion. Anthem said the acquisition won't affect its earnings this year.

Simply Healthcare offers Medicare and Medicaid plans in 60 Florida counties. It has 177,000 customers for Medicaid, the state-federal program that covers the poor and disabled people. It also counts 21,000 Medicare customers.

Anthem, which changed its name from WellPoint late last year, has been working to increase its share of government business for a few years now. In late 2012, it completed a $4.46 billion acquisition of Amerigroup Corp., which runs Medicaid coverage in several states.

Swedish told analysts in January that government business represented more than 48 percent of its consolidated operating revenue in the recently completed fourth quarter.

Anthem shares were down 32 cents late Wednesday morning, to $141.44 each.

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