Momentum is growing in the big battle going on right now across the country over the proposed health insurance mega-mergers. This battle has been taking place state-by-state, but now is being launched nationally with the Department of Justice.
The merger of Aetna with Humana and Anthem with Cigna would reduce the number of large, national insurers to three “too big to fail” companies that will wield even more excessive power to raise insurance rates and limit provider choice. Many states, all of which must review and approve these mergers, have been rubber-stamping them, sometimes in total secrecy without a hearing. However, the Department of Justice has the ultimate authority to approve or deny the mergers.
Up until very recently, there wasn’t much hope that these mergers might be stopped, but that is changing. But last week, California became the first state to reject the Anthem-Cigna merger and their Insurance Commissioner asked the Department of Justice to reject it as well. In May, Missouri became the first state to say “no” to the Aetna-Humana merger. In Connecticut, the insurance capital of the nation, the Insurance Commissioner is the lead state-based regulator who is promoting the Anthem-Cigna merger and is facing an ethics inquiry based on multiple conflicts-of-interest.
The groups in Connecticut that have organized this sign-on letter (see below) want to show the Department of Justice that there are many different types of organizations across the country that have grave concerns about the proposed mergers, and the inadequacy of the review process underway.
ACT NOW to have your organization sign on to the letter to the DOJ! The deadline is this Thursday, June 23rd. Sign on my emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – be sure to provide the name of your organization, a contact person and his/her title, and email address.
All signers will receive a copy of the letter with the list of signing organizations.
For more information, contact Jill Zorn, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, email@example.com. The Connecticut Citizen Action Group and Medical Society of Connecticut are the other two groups leading this effort.
Please forward this letter to other organizations of all types that might consider signing!
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Full text of sign-on letter
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June 24, 2016
The Honorable Renata B. Hesse
Acting Assistant Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Acting Assistant Attorney General Hesse:
The undersigned organizations are writing to express grave concerns with the potential anti-competitive impact of actions taken by many state-based regulators reviewing the proposed mergers of national health insurers Aetna with Humana and Anthem with Cigna.
The proposed mergers are likely to have a significant negative impact on both the cost and quality of care throughout the country, and would permanently change our nation’s health care system for patients, physicians and other stakeholders. Yet many of the regulatory reviews conducted at the state level have left the public wondering if their interests are truly being protected.
• Many decisions are being made in secret, with no public input, even in states where there is anti-competitive overlap. FOIA efforts to get copies of documentation to better understand the rationale for these decisions have been met in multiple states by stonewalling and obfuscation.
• States holding public hearings have been few and far between.
• Some states are not reviewing the mergers at all, even though these mergers will remove two important companies in an industry with high barriers to entry and little actual entry at this time.
• The merger review process in Connecticut is embroiled in controversy, with concerns raised by the media, elected officials on both sides of the aisle and others. This is particularly troubling, given that Connecticut also serves as the lead state regulator in the Anthem-Cigna merger, facilitating and coordinating communication among states reviewing the merger.
In summary, we see a review process that too often lacks integrity and transparency and prevents public confidence in the decisions that have been or will be made.
Because of the flawed review process in most states, the undersigned organizations urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to carefully review the mergers’ impact on each state and on the country as a whole. We are relying on DOJ to use its expertise and enforcement power to protect people from the harm these mergers will cause.