After reviewing 173 comments, DOJ stands by CVS-Aetna settlement

The U.S. Department of Justice said its settlement with CVS Health and Aetna that allowed the two to move forward with their $69 billion deal remedied any antitrust concerns, according to Law 360.

Four things to know:

1. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon is reviewing a settlement that CVS and Aetna made with the Justice Department in October. Under the settlement, Aetna agreed to sell its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to Florida-based insurer WellCare Health Plans.

2. In a Jan. 8 filing, the Justice Department's antitrust division said it wouldn't meet a February deadline to return comments on the settlement due to the partial government shutdown. In a memorandum and order filed Jan. 11, Judge Leon denied to the Justice Department's request for a stay in court proceedings surrounding the merger due to a lack of appropriations.

3. On Feb. 13, the Justice Department filed its response. It said after reviewing 173 comments, "The United States continues to believe that the proposed remedy will address the harm alleged in the complaint and is therefore in the public interest. The remedy preserves competition for the approximately 21 million beneficiaries who purchase individual prescription drug plans in the United States."

4. While CVS and Aetna closed their deal in November, Judge Leon is tasked with completing certain procedures required by the Tunney Act, which couldn't be completed until the government responded to the comments. The Tunney Act is a federal law requiring the Justice Department to get a federal court's approval for merger settlements.

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