Aetna-CVS Merger to be Reviewed as Judge Agrees to Hear Witnesses

April 9, 2019

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Source: Benefits Pro

This merger’s not over even when it looks to be over, apparently.

A federal judge will hear testimony from witnesses who opposed a ruling from the Justice Department approving the merger between CVS and Aetna that closed last November.

As reported by The Hill, Federal Judge Richard Leon has expressed concern that the settlement of the acquisition by CVS of Aetna—valued at nearly $70 billion—may not have provided adequate protection for industry competition. Said the report, “A CVS lawyer argued that judges had never called for witnesses in such hearings.”

The judge has said he anticipates a week long hearing in May, during which testimony from the American Medical Association and consumer rights groups will likely be heard. Both have said they want to testify.

In addition, there may also be witnesses from the Justice Department and CVS.

Such a move is “highly unusual,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Not only has the acquisition already taken place, but CVS and Aetna have already posted earnings as a single company.

The merger was allowed after the two companies agreed to sell off assets related to drug coverage for Medicare, but Reuters reports that Leon had previously expressed reservations about the deal, saying he was “less convinced” than the government that antitrust issues were resolved by the asset sale and wanted more time to consider the settlement.

CVS had said it would keep part of the Aetna operations separate until he did so.

“Health care is a very high priority for tens of millions of people,” Leon said. “This is a matter of great public interest.”

 

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