Aetna, Hu­mana an­titrust trial set to be­gin

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Maria Castel­lucci

Aetna and Hu­mana, two of the largest Medi­care Ad­van­tage play­ers, this week will fight ac­cu­sa­tions that if they merged, se­niors and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in more than 300 mar­kets would be neg­a­tively af­fected.

The U.S. Jus­tice De­part­ment has claimed the merger would sti­fle com­pe­ti­tion and harm con­sumers.

In a trial that is ex­pected to last two and half weeks, U.S. Dis­trict Judge John Bates this week will be­gin to hear ar­gu­ments de­bat­ing Aetna’s pro­posed $37 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Hu­mana. The Jus­tice De­part­ment filed a re­quest in July for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion to block the merger, al­leg­ing the deal would re­strict com­pe­ti­tion in key mar­kets.

Aetna and Hu­mana vowed to “vig­or­ously de­fend” the pend­ing union. The in­sur­ers con­tend the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s al­le­ga­tions “do not com­port with re­al­ity” and tra­di­tional Medi­care and Medi­care Ad­van­tage plans com­pete with each other.

Aetna will have to pay Hu­mana $1 bil­lion if the deal falls through. A de­ci­sion is ex­pected by mid-Jan­uary.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment also has sued to block An­them’s pro­posed $53 bil­lion bid for Cigna Corp. The trial for that law­suit be­gan Nov. 21 and a rul­ing is ex­pected by the end of Jan­uary.

If the deals are al­lowed to pro­ceed, the num­ber of na­tional in­sur­ance providers would shrink from five to three.

Aetna will have to pay Hu­mana $1 bil­lion if the deal falls through.

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