Federal judge blocks merger of Humana and Aetna on antitrust grounds
In a victory for the U.S. Justice Department, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has blocked Aetna’s proposed $37 billion acquisition of Humana.
U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled on Monday that the merger would reduce competition among health insurers and violate antitrust law, report the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Wall Street Journal. (sub. req.), Bloomberg, the Washington Post and the New York Times DealBook blog.
Bates said the merger would likely decrease competition in the market for Medicare Advantage plans in 364 counties in 21 states, and a proposed sale of some assets to Molina Healthcare wouldn’t solve the problem.
Bates also said the merger would likely lessen competition in the sale of insurance through the Affordable Care Act on public exchanges in three Florida counties.
Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement that the decision “sets a notable legal precedent by recognizing Medicare Advantage as a separate and distinct market that does not compete with traditional Medicare.”
“Elderly patients were the big winners today,” Gurman said.
An Aetna spokesman said the company was giving “serious consideration to an appeal.”