Months later, Cigna responds to DOJ antitrust lawsuit

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Health insurer Cigna answered the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against the insurer and its proposed acquirer Anthem Monday, two months after the department sued the payer over antitrust concerns.

In the DOJ's lawsuit, the department claimed Indianapolis-based Anthem and Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna are close competitors in 35 markets, and represent the only competitive insurers in some markets. The DOJ argued an acquisition would in turn harm large group markets.

In its response, Cigna admitted it competes with Anthem in the 35 areas pointed out by the DOJ in terms of reimbursement rates, customer service, wellness programs and provider collaborations in some cases. However, Cigna said it lacks information to support claims that large group employers would be harmed by the deal, stating "those responses can differ widely among a diverse set of large group employers in different areas and circumstances."

The DOJ also argued the deal would impede Cigna's customer service and "innovative" wellness initiatives that compete "vigorously" with Anthem's. While Cigna admitted "it is regarded by several sources as innovative," and it "on occasion" competes with Anthem in individual health plan markets, the insurer again denied the proposed merger would harm competition.

Cigna also claimed the DOJ selected quotes from incompletely identified communications and presented them in a "misleading" way in its complaint.  

The payers will defend their transaction in trial beginning Nov. 21.  

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