Early Briefing: Suing CareFirst

*The D.C. government launched a subpoena-powered investigation of CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield and a lawsuit that asserts the nonprofit organization is obligated to donate millions to the community. For a decade, authorities in the District and Maryland have criticized CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield for hoarding its annual surpluses despite its federal charter as a "charitable and benevolent institution."

During the past year, animosity between District officials and the insurance provider intensified because CareFirst did not participate in a universal health care program that was counting on it for an annual $5million contribution. Most important, officials said, CareFirst posted a $754million surplus in 2007 and did not spread the wealth to needy District residents.

*Circuit City's activist investor Mark Wattles said that several firms are interested in purchasing the beleaguered Richmond-based electronics retailer and that he expects a deal to be announced within a month. Circuit City declined to comment on Wattles's statement, which came after the company held its annual shareholders meeting at the University of Richmond.

*State regulators indicated that they would approve the biggest one-time jump in Dominion Virginia Power electricity rates in three decades, saying they have no choice but to allow what they acknowledged would be a hardship on many low-income residents.

The three judges on the State Corporation Commission said they sympathized with the elderly and disabled ratepayers who spoke out against the 18 percent increase proposed by Dominion. But they said they are bound by a state law that allows Dominion to recoup through rate increases the cost of oil, coal and other fuels used to generate electricity.

* Caruso Homes filed for bankruptcy protection Monday after a cost-cutting campaign failed to sustain the local builder through the housing downturn.

Caruso, which is based in Crofton and builds homes throughout Maryland and Virginia, said in its Chapter 11 filing in Baltimore that it has more than $100 million in debt.

By Terri Rupar  |  June 25, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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