Federal judge strikes down Anthem-Cigna merger
- A federal judge blocked the merger between Anthem and Cigna on Wednesday, reports Axios. Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision to nix the merger had been expected for weeks.
- Jackson said the merger was noncompetitive, leaving workers covered by large employers’ health plans with just three insurers from which to buy healthcare. The judge also said that the merger would have increased healthcare prices.
- Besides the noncompetitive nature of the merger and anticipated price hikes, Axios said another deal-breaker was the behind-the-scenes bickering between Anthem and Cigna over the combined company’s direction and daily operations.
Jackson had consumers’ welfare in mind when ruling against the merger. She questioned whether healthcare providers would charge higher prices for being overworked, as the merger would likely have caused, and said consumers would be left with fewer insurers from which to choose, a violation of antitrust laws.
Jackson’s decision was the second such victory for the U.S. Justice Department. Last month federal judge John B. Bates blocked the Aetna-Humana merger. Aetna has until Feb. 15 to appeal.
Anthem reportedly plans to appeal the ruling. The company could lose $1.85 billion in merger fees if the decision stands.