Aetna CEO responds to US senators' letter

The CEO of Aetna said issues outlined by U.S. senators in a Monday letter about Aetna's Affordable Care Act exchange pullback were "unfounded accusations" and "marketplace reality" is to blame for its public exchange departure, the Hartford Courant reports.

CEO Mark Bertolini said the Hartford, Conn.-based insurer's exit from 11 of the 15 exchanges it operated in was influenced by financial losses and an "unsustainable imbalance" in risk pools on the individual market. Mr. Bertolini said the "occurrence of those negative developments was the actual catalyst for our decision to reduce our footprint."

Mr. Bertolini's words are in response to a letter sent Monday by five U.S. senators, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The lawmakers called the exit "inexplicable and irresponsible," and wrote "Aetna's decision to leave the ACA exchanges appears to have been motivated by the Justice Department's decision to challenge Aetna's proposed $37 billion merger with Humana," a deal they said would harm competition and negatively impact healthcare quality. 

Mr. Bertolini countered the senators and said they made "several unfounded accusations about Aetna's intentions as they relate to the public healthcare exchanges" and the insurer's proposed $37 billion acquisition of Louisville, Ky.-based Humana.

He also said in a "highly politicized environment, it may be tempting to make such accusations rather than examine the forces creating an unsustainable public exchange marketplace, but they do not move us toward fixing the problem." He also pointed out Aetna is not the only insurer leaving ACA exchanges next year.

An Aetna spokesperson said the senators have not filed a response to Mr. Bertolini's letter, according to the report. 

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