Judge sets Anthem-Cigna trial date, says ruling unlikely in 2016

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Health insurers Anthem and Cigna will not see a ruling on their proposed $54 billion merger by the end of the year, a federal judge said Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

At last week's scheduling hearing, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson selected Nov. 21 as the trial's start date, with hopes to rule on the deal by the end of January. Ms. Jackson said Indianapolis-based Anthem's previously requested Nov. 1 start date was too soon, and the DOJ's suggested Feb. 17 start date was too drawn-out.

The decision is a setback for the insurers, as Anthem has said its acquisition of Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna will need to be complete by April 30, or Cigna will walk out the next day and collect a $1.85 billion breakup fee. In addition, Anthem said even if it receives a positive court ruling, it will still need at least 120 days to garner approval from all state regulators.

The Justice Department said Friday it is open to hearing settlement agreements from Anthem, Bloomberg reported. Following the department's statement, Cigna's shares increased 4.3 percent to $132 and Anthem's increased 1.6 percent to $130.21.

Anthem and Cigna attorneys have said the companies are committed to the merger agreement, though Cigna's attorney has not said whether the insurer will extend the merger agreement deadline, according to the report.

The DOJ filed two lawsuits July 21 — one against Anthem and Cigna and another against Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna and Louisville, Ky.-based Humana — to block their multibillion transactions on grounds the deals are anticompetitive. The Aetna-Humana trial is set for Dec. 5. 

More articles about payer issues:
Thousands of Kansas state employees face between 9% and 30% premium hikes
HHS says ACA individual risk pool is improving: 4 findings
Aetna-Humana merger trial slated for Dec. 5

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