The New Hampshire Attorney General has joined with the U.S. Department of Justice and AGs from 11 other states to file a lawsuit to block a proposed merger between Anthem and Cigna, two of the world's largest healthcare companies, according to a press statement.
The lawsuits, which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday, aim to stop Anthem's $48 billion takeover of Cigna and Aetna's $37 billion bid for Humana.
The health insurance industry has five major companies in the U.S. If these two deals went through, that number would be reduced to three.
"Competitive insurance markets are essential to providing Americans the affordable and high-quality health care they deserve", Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said. He said Thursday the state is not opposing the Aetna merger because he did not anticipate anticompetitive effects in CT, where Humana isn't an Aetna competitor.
The US Department of Justice has laid down the law to health insurance providers, with antitrust lawsuits being brought against two proposed mergers due to a possible lack of competition in the market.
William Baer, assistant attorney general, said a tie-up between Aetna and Humana would reduce meaningful competition in the Medicare Advantage plans in many cities including in Joplin.
In very pointed comments about the deals, Baer said that these insurance companies are some of the most "sophisticated" firms in the country. "We commend the Justice Department for taking action to block what would be a major setback for consumers".
"Allowing commercial health insurers to become too big and exert control over the delivery of healthcare would be bad for patients and the vitality of the nation's healthcare system", said AMA President Andrew Gurman.
The Anthem-Cigna merger, in particular, would be the largest health insurance merger in US history and impact 1.5 million CT residents.
Aetna strongly rebutted the government's claims that Medicare Advantage care would suffer, arguing that its options would be cheaper and contain more higher-rated plans.
The largest insurer of all, UnitedHealth Group, has announced it would not continue to take part because it was not making money on it.
Aetna and Humana responded Thursday by pledging to "vigorously" defend their merger plans. In the other proposed merger that drew government opposition, Anthem called objections to its combination with Cigna "misguided".
One reason Humana stock may have risen today is the company raised 2016 second quarter earnings guidance of $2.28 per share, compared to its previous estimate of $2.15 a share and analysts' expectation of $2.19 per share.