DOJ lawyers claim Aetna, Humana attorneys are trying to 'derail' antitrust case

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The U.S. Department of Justice dismissed accusations from Aetna and Humana that the DOJ belated releasing trial-related documents, arguing the payers' allegations are an attempt to thwart the trial before it begins, The National Law Journal reports.

Aetna and Humana called for sanctions last week preventing CMS employees from being witnesses or using documents from the health agency in the DOJ's antitrust case. The payers argued the DOJ held CMS documents for too long and there is no longer enough time for the insurers to use the documents to defend Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna's proposed $37 billion acquisition of Louisville, Ky.-based Humana.

Government lawyers responded in a Saturday court filing, writing the insurers' lawyers were trying "to derail the United States' merger challenge before the District Court ever hears from a single witness or reviews any evidence," according to the report.

In its antitrust lawsuit filed July 21, the DOJ argued an Aetna-Humana deal would impede competition in the Medicare Advantage market. 

The payers countered this argument by saying their traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage market shares should be considered holistically. A joint Aetna-Humana entity would cover 8 percent of a combined Medicare market, as opposed to 25 percent of a strictly Medicare Advantage market.  

However, the DOJ said the insurers "should not be permitted to exploit the rapidity of the discovery process that they demanded or advance specious claims of misconduct and harm as supposed bases for sanctions so broad, unwarranted and potentially preclusive of the public interests this suit was brought to vindicate," the document reads, reports The National Law Journal.   

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