15 state attorneys general join DOJ's probe of health insurer mergers

Attorneys general from approximately 15 states are working with the Department of Justice in its review of Aetna's $54.2 billion bid for Humana and Anthem's $37 billion plan to buy Cigna, according to Reuters.

The attorneys general are from Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and Tennessee, anonymous sources told Reuters. The other states in the group were not identified.

The attorneys general will give the DOJ data on how their choice to approve the acquisitions may affect the insurance market — including higher prices or other harm to customers — in each state.

Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish applauded the state attorneys general joining the DOJ. "The states created this path with the DOJ to promote education, [and] engagement. They develop a lot of insights so that when the DOJ does rule, our work with all of these states is probably enhanced quite a bit because we are not starting from scratch," he said, according to the report.

Aetna felt the same. "We are confident that our transaction will receive a fair, thorough and fact-based review from the Department of Justice and the states," the insurer said in a statement.

Cigna didn't respond to Reuters' request for comment, and Humana declined to comment.

Meanwhile, others — including the American Antitrust Institute — are concerned about the implications of the deals going through. "The AAI recommends that the DOJ 'just say no' to the two deals that would fundamentally restructure the nation's health insurance markets and create further incentives for 'reactive' consolidation in the healthcare supply chain," the AAI said in a Jan. 11 letter to the DOJ.

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