Ky. insurance commissioner grants Humana-Aetna approval without public hearing

As the U.S. Department of Justice reviews Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna's proposed acquisition of Louisville, Ky.-based Humana, the Kentucky insurance commissioner has approved the merger without a formal public hearing, according to Insider Louisville.

Former Commissioner Sharon P. Clark was initially planning on holding a public hearing this spring, even though she didn't anticipate competition problems as a result of the merger.

But the new Kentucky Insurance Commissioner, Brian Maynard, doesn't believe a public hearing was necessary at all. "Based on my office's in-depth internal review, I felt no need to conduct a formal public hearing on the request, which would have resulted in additional expense being passed on to the consumer," he said, according to the report. "In this case, a hearing would have been an unnecessary formality."

The hearing would have given members of the public the chance to discuss the merger and their concerns.

According to Kentucky law, the insurance commissioner "shall approve any merger or other acquisition ... unless, after a public hearing, the commissioner finds that" it could be harmful to consumers or the competitiveness of the market, according to the report.

Commissioner Maynard added that he does not foresee any potential problems the merger could cause. His administration "concluded there would be no adverse impact on consumers," and "all indications are that overall competition in Kentucky's health insurance market is strong."

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