AMA, loud opponent of Aetna-Humana, keeps quiet on CVS-Aetna

Despite openly opposing a proposed deal between Aetna and Humana in 2016, the American Medical Association has not asked antitrust regulators to block CVS Health's proposed $69 billion bid for Aetna, according to Forbes contributor Bruce Jepsen.

Here are five takeaways from Mr. Jepsen's article:

1. Vertical integration, or the merging of two companies at different production levels within the same industry, has not generated as much backlash from the AMA as horizontal mergers, or the combination of firms that operate in the same space, like Aetna and Humana.

2. In December 2016, former AMA President Andrew Gurman, MD, issued a statement in support of blocking Aetna's acquisition of Humana.

"Together [Aetna and Humana] would create an insurer Goliath with the market power to raise premiums, lower plan quality and eliminate choice for a vulnerable population of seniors in the Medicare Advantage program," Dr. Gurman said in a statement. As it involved two of the four largest sellers of Medicare Advantage plans, a merger would have put seniors at risk, Dr. Gurman said.

3. However, AMA ended its annual House of Delegates meeting June 13 in Chicago without specifically mentioning the CVS Health-Aetna tie-up or other vertical integrations like Cigna's proposed offer to buy Express Scripts.

4. While the AMA played a large role in helping the Justice Department sue to block the Aetna-Humana deal, the organization has not requested antitrust regulators do the same with the CVS Health-Aetna or Cigna-Express Scripts deals.

"The time to get that ball rolling would seemingly have happened by now or at least would've been put on the radar of AMA attorneys after a week that the group's House of Delegates debated everything from gun control and medical ethics to issues of transgender patients," according to Mr. Jepsen.

5. Earlier this year, the AMA testified to Congress about its concern over vertical mergers and how they would affect patient healthcare access. Mr. Jepsen said it is possible the AMA will still voice opposition to the CVS Health-Aetna and Cigna-Express Scripts deals.

More articles on payer issues:
CVS Health to acquire Aetna for $69B: 5 things to know
Shareholders approve CVS Health's $69B acquisition of Aetna
Shares of CVS Health, Aetna, Cigna, Express Scripts spike after AT&T-Time Warner decision

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