Ruling could be imminent as first phrase of Anthem-Cigna trial concludes

A judge could determine if Anthem's proposed $54 billion acquisition of Cigna should be blocked following the conclusion of the first phase of the Department of Justice's antitrust trial Dec. 13, which concerned the national insurance market, according to Bloomberg.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has not said when she will rule whether a combined Anthem-Cigna insurer will be permitted. The second phase of the trial, concerning the effects a combined Anthem-Cigna company would have on local insurance markets, is set to begin Dec. 14. Judge Jackson said, "We're going on to phase two, no one should draw any conclusions from that one way or another," according to the report.

Anthem and U.S. Justice Department lawyers took the stand on the last day of the first phase of the trial to answer Judge Jackson's questions about the national competitive effects of the deal. While Anthem argued national competition will be maintained in the market because of new and smaller insurers, Judge Jackson said an Anthem filing with the court outlining market share data for competing insurers showed otherwise. 

"You ended up undercutting the force of your argument," she said, also saying the data presentation was "a little insulting," according to The Wall Street Journal.

Judge Jackson also questioned the DOJ's argument that consumers in 14 states where Anthem offers health plans would be negatively affected should the deal pass. She said Anthem often receives better discounts from providers than Cigna does.

Judge Jackson is expected to issue a final ruling on the case in January, though her decision could arrive earlier if she thinks the DOJ's argument held clout in the first phase of the trial, reports The Wall Street Journal.

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