U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at the White House in Washington, March 4, 2010. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Anthem Blue Cross said it would revise its rate requests previously filed with the California Department of Insurance and California Department of Managed Health Care, probably sometime in May.

WellPoint's plan to raise rates by as much as 39 percent for some individuals in California had made the health insurer the focus of criticism as Democrats rallied support to pass the health reform law.

WellPoint Chief Executive Officer Angela Braly told a congressional committee in February that the rate hikes reflected higher medical costs.

U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hailed Anthem's announcement as good news for the more than 800,000 Californians who could have been hit with massive rate increases and gives them some much-needed temporary relief.

In reporting first-quarter results earlier this week, WellPoint said its individual business in California was performing below expectations this year and lost money in March.