On Wednesday, July 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, one, Cause 1:16-cv-01494, seeking to stop the proposed merger between Aetna and Humana (valued at $37 billion) and the other, Cause 1:16-cv-01493, seeking to stop the acquisition of Cigna by Anthem (valued at $54 billion).
The bases of the suits are generally that the proposed transactions would decrease competition and increase costs in the market for commercial health insurance. The DOJ’s action is not surprising given that these two transactions would eliminate two of the largest national-network health insurance providers. It is hard to believe that these transactions would not negatively impact providers, patients and employers in the commercial health plan and third party administrator markets.
Notwithstanding, the health plans argue that these combinations will lead to efficiencies and cost reductions and are necessary to respond to consolidation of providers. At this stage it is impossible to determine the impact of these suits – the health plans may defend the transactions and go forward if they prevail or call off or be forced to stop the transactions.