Anthem, Cigna blame each other for violating acquisition agreement

Health insurers Anthem and Cigna accused each other of breaching their $54 billion acquisition agreement, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in a legal filing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In its filing, the DOJ — which is suing to block Indianapolis-based Anthem's acquisition of Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna over antitrust concerns — said the payers' lawyers exchanged letters accusing each insurer of violating their contract. The department said during an Aug. 16 telephone conference, the lawyers spoke of "further deterioration" of the payers' relationship.

The DOJ's filing reads, "Governance disputes between defendants have escalated, and the firms are now accusing each other of breaching the merger agreement." The department said the letters the lawyers exchanged "reveal the current state of hostility between defendants," as well accusations of agreement violations from both sides.

The department is requesting access to the letters to build its case against the Anthem-Cigna deal. Officials argue if the payers cannot cooperate, the proposed acquisition may not be achieved according to its terms.

The insurers have previously denied handing over documents requested by the DOJ, according to the report.

Anthem and Cigna declined Becker's Hospital Review's requests to comment on the DOJ filing.

Tension between the insurers was highlighted in August when Anthem said its acquisition of Cigna must close by April 30 or Cigna would walk out the next day. However, the DOJ filed a counter-argument saying the insurer is requesting a quick trial because it is on bad terms with Cigna, which may prelude inefficiencies that could result from the merger. 

Trial proceedings are set to begin Nov. 21.   

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