7 senators to DOJ: Block the insurer mega-mergers

Seven Democratic senators urged the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday to block the Aetna-Humana and Cigna-Anthem mergers, with one lawmaker calling the proposed deals "job-killers," according to the Hartford Courant

Lawmakers including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) penned a letter to the DOJ expressing concern over the "detrimental impact that both of these mergers would have on premium prices, jobs and healthcare costs for consumers and businesses."

Many of the senators' worries center around employment, including the likelihood of job cuts, wage stagnation and higher healthcare prices resulting from the deals. Representing the home of Cigna and Aetna headquarters, Sen. Blumenthal released a statement that the mega-mergers are "job killers" and  "combining five competitors into three epitomizes the type of anti-consumer deal that the law forbids." He said he supports steps to keep the insurers as thriving independent competitors, which would reinforce hiring in the state.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in May that if its merger with Humana goes through, Aetna is required to create a presence in Kentucky, where Humana calls home. He said the company's other real estate was under review at the time and gave no word or promise that the insurer would keep its headquarters in Connecticut. Currently, Aetna employs 6,000 workers in Connecticut.

"History shows that mergers can frequently cause job losses as the firms eliminate supposedly redundant positions and consolidate operations," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to the DOJ. "Economists are also increasingly warning that excess monopoly power concentrates profits and power in fewer hands at the expense of wage and job growth. Families facing higher premiums may similarly be harder pressed to spend household income in their local economies," they wrote.

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