BREAKING: Justice Department to Challenge Anthem, Aetna Deals, Media Reports Say | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

BREAKING: Justice Department to Challenge Anthem, Aetna Deals, Media Reports Say

July 19, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

Antitrust officials at the U.S. Department of Justice may file lawsuits to block health insurer Anthem’s proposed $54 billion acquisition of Cigna as well as Aetna’s pending $37 billion takeover of Humana, according to a Bloomberg article posted Tuesday.

The article, written by Bloomberg writers David McLaughlin and Sara Forden, cites “a person familiar with the matter,” as saying that the Justice Department could take action on the deals this week.

Matt Asensio, a Cigna spokesperson, declined to comment on the Justice Department review. Requests for comment from Anthem, Aetna and Humana representatives were not returned, as of press time.

As previously reported by Healthcare Informatics' Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland, in early July 2015, Hartford-based Aetna announced that it would acquire Louisville-based Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, which was, at the time, the largest acquisition of its type in the history of health insurance in the United States.

As Healthcare Informatics' Managing Editor Rajiv Leventhal reported a few weeks later, Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem struck a deal to acquire Bloomfield, Ct.-based Cigna for $54.2 billion, now the largest health insurance transaction in the U.S.

Those two deals would significantly change the U.S. health insurance industry by consolidating the five biggest competitors into three major players.

According to the Bloomberg article, several people familiar with the situation reported that Justice Department officials, “who are responsible for protecting competition, are concerned that the deal would harm customers.”

McLaughlin and Forden also reported, “While the companies may offer to sell assets to gain approval for the deals, that’s unlikely to sway antitrust officials, one of the people said. The final decision on whether to sue to block the deals could come this week or next, another of the people said. The companies could settle a lawsuit before or after one is filed.”

And, they wrote, “In addition to the Justice Department’s antitrust division, state attorneys general also have raised concerns about the mergers and may join any Justice Department challenge, two people said.”

In June, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) called on the Department of Justice to block the proposed health insurer mergers, which were undergoing review at the time. In a letter to Renata Hesse, principal deputy assistant attorney general, antitrust division at the Department of Justice, the senators voiced concerns that the proposed Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers could threaten jobs, increase premiums, and decrease access to quality health care.

When the Aetna-Humana deal was announced, Healthcare Informatics' Hagland wrote that a report in the American Journal of Managed Care online noted, “The deal, which has been approved the boards of directors of both companies, continues the trend of consolidation that has swept the healthcare industry since passage of the ACA. Some fear that ongoing consolidation will thwart competition and drive up prices for consumers, undermining a key goal of the law.”

Healthcare Informatics will continue to post updates on developments as they occur.



Former Health IT Head in San Diego County Charged with Defrauding Provider out of $800K

The ex-health IT director at North County Health Services, a San Diego County-based healthcare service provider, has been charged with spearheading fraudulent operations that cost the organization $800,000.

Allscripts Touts 1 Billion API Shares in 2017

Officials from Chicago-based health IT vendor Allscripts have attested that the company has reached a new milestone— one billion application programming interface (API) data exchange transactions in 2017.

Dignity Health, CHI Merging to Form New Catholic Health System

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), based in Englewood, Colorado, and San Francisco-based Dignity Health officially announced they are merging and have signed a definitive agreement to combine ministries and create a new, nonprofit Catholic health system.

HHS Announces Winning Solutions in Opioid Code-a-Thon

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted this week a first-of-its-kind two-day Code-a-Thon to use data and technology to develop new solutions to address the opioid epidemic.

In GAO Report, More Concern over VA VistA Modernization Project

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report is calling into question the more than $1 billion that has been spent to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) health IT system.

Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Aimed at Improving Medicare ACO Program

U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) have introduced H.R. 4580, the ACO Improvement Act of 2017 that makes changes to the Medicare accountable care organization (ACO) program.