Watchdog groups call out Ky. insurance commissioner's approval of Aetna-Humana merger

Watchdog groups are speaking out after Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Brian Maynard approved the Aetna-Humana merger without a formal public hearing, according to Insider Louisville.

Although insurance commissioners are not required to hold a public hearing, former Commissioner Sharon P. Clark was initially planning on holding a public hearing this spring. Last week however, Mr. Maynard said he didn't believe one was necessary.

But now, groups are expressing their dissatisfaction. "The public needs to know more about this huge transaction," said Richard Beliles, state chair of Louisville, Ky.-based Common Cause Kentucky, which advocates for transparency in government. "I just don't think it's in the public interest."

Carmen Balber, executive director of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Consumer Watchdog, agreed. "The citizens of the state deserve one public hearing where they get to examine the insurers' claims about the impact of the merger, and what the department of insurance has done to investigate," she said via email. "I'm surprised a new commissioner would reverse direction and refuse to hold a public hearing to discuss these issues in the light of day."

Others echoed similar sentiments. "It's disappointing that, after planning to hold a hearing, the commission changed its course, making a decision on behalf of the public without its input," Jenn Topper, spokeswoman for Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation, said in an email.

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