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Federal judge blocks merger of Humana and Aetna

Says it would be unfair to consumers

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2017) — A federal judge today blocked the proposed merger of Louisville-based Human and Aetna, saying the $37 billion deal would hurt competition and raise prices for consumers, multiple news outlets are reporting.

imgresU.S. District Judge John D. Bates wrote in his decision: “The Court concludes that the proposed merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in Medicare Advantage in all 364 complaint counties and in the public exchanges in the three complaint counties in Florida.”

“Aetna and Humana compete in a Medicare Advantage product market that does not include Original Medicare, as both contemporary business documents and econometric evidence confirm,” he wrote. “In that market, which is the primary focus of this case, the merger is presumptively unlawful—a conclusion that is strongly supported by direct evidence of head-to-head competition as well. The companies’ rebuttal arguments are not persuasive.”

In July, the U.S. Department of Justice “sued to block the merger, arguing that it would reduce competition in the Medicare Advantage market and in some of the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare Advantage plans are Medicare health plans offered by private insurers,” reports The Washington Post.