Judge Blocks Aetna-Humana Merger; Aetna May Appeal

A federal judge on Monday blocked a proposed merger between health insurers Aetna and Humana over its potential impact on competition and insurance prices.

U.S. District Judge John Bates sided with the Department of Justice, saying the merger would reduce competition in the Medicare Advantage market and could also decrease competition in Affordable Care Act exchanges in some Florida markets.

The merger’s potential benefits wouldn’t mitigate the anticompetitive effects, Bates said in the ruling.

We’re reviewing the opinion now and giving serious consideration to an appeal after putting forward a compelling case,” Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford said in a statement Monday.

The Department of Justice praised the ruling as a win for consumers.

“Competition spurs health insurers to offer higher quality and more affordable health insurance to seniors who choose Medicare Advantage plans and to low-income families and individuals who purchase insurance from public exchanges,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder, who heads the DOJ’s antitrust department, said in a statement.

A U.S. District Court is also considering a DOJ suit to block another proposed merger between Anthem and Cigna.

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