DOJ questions viability of Aetna-Humana asset sale to Molina in trial

Listen

A U.S. Department of Justice lawyer questioned Aetna and Humana's plan to divest $117 in Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare to address the department's antitrust concerns over Aetna's proposed $37 billion acquisition of Humana, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna and Louisville, Ky.-based Humana compete directly in Medicare Advantage plan sales in hundreds of counties. The DOJ questioned if Long Beach, Calif.-based Molina Healthcare could sustain competition if Aetna absorbs Humana.

Ryan Kantor, a DOJ lawyer, said Molina documents show the payer's board members expressed concern about purchasing the assets before agreeing to pay $117 million for about 290,000 Medicare Advantage enrollees throughout 21 states. Mr. Kantor questioned Molina CEO John Molina, MD, as witness in the Aetna-Humana trial, presenting documents in which the executive said Aetna would likely maintain its assets that performed the best while divesting the others to Molina. In addition, Dr. Molina said in the document the payer lacked the same level of administrative staff and experience as Aetna and Humana.

In an email presented in the trial, a Molina board member questioned how acquired Aetna enrollees would feel about transferring "to a relatively unknown Molina," to which Dr. Molina responded, "We have built in a 10 percent decline in membership for that very reason."

The DOJ will continue to challenge Aetna's proposed purchase of Humana in trial through Dec. 30. Aetna and Humana argue the proposed acquisition will not impede competition in the Medicare Advantage or ACA plan markets, saying the Medicare market extends farther than the government defines it.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini is slated to be called as a witness early next week, according to the report.  

Copyright © 2021 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.

 

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars