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Interest shown in buying shadowy campaigner’s managed care firm

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A Philadelphia-based health company is interested in purchasing a managed care firm in the District owned by the man at the center of a federal probe into Mayor Vincent C. Gray's 2010 campaign, D.C. insurance officials said Monday.

AmeriHealth Mercy issued a letter of intent to the District as a likely buyer of D.C. Chartered Health Plan, which is owned by prolific D.C. political donor Jeffrey Thompson. Federal prosecutors have alluded to Mr. Thompson as the source of straw donations and $650,000 in unreported funds that filtered through the Gray campaign, a scheme that prompted guilty pleas from aides who worked on the mayor's bid to unseat incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

Federal agents raided Mr. Thompson's home and offices in March. Mr. Thompson has not been charged with any crime, but his business interests in the District have eroded as Chartered finishes out its Medicaid contract through April 30.

The District took over the company in October, after Chartered's board and Mr. Thompson agreed not to contest the city's petition to place the company into a court receivership.

Auditors missed an initial deadline in their review of Chartered's 2011 financial statement, which is expected to clear up financial irregularities that were discovered on the company's books in recent months. The discrepancies include $3 million in unexplained revenue and the transfer of $1 million to an unknown recipient.

Managed care contractors such as Chartered are paid specified rates and direct patients to health care services within their provider networks. The popularity of managed care systems in the United States has grown in recent decades because state officials think the organizations have a profit incentive to run efficiently and control costs.

William P. White, commissioner of the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, declined to go into specifics about the contemplated deal between AmeriHealth and Chartered during a conference call with reporters on Monday. He also declined to talk about suspicions that AmeriHealth would have a leg up in its active bid for the five-year Medicaid contract held by Chartered.

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