A trial begins Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., pitting the U.S. Justice Department against Anthem and Cigna, challenging Anthem’s $53 billion acquisition to create a national health insurance powerhouse. And next month, the federal government’s challenge of Aetna’s $37 billion takeover of Humana goes to trial Dec. 5.
The cases were brought by the U.S. Justice Department, led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. On the day the lawsuits were announced last July, Lynch’s team said the deals would thwart competition, raises prices and hurt the quality of patient care.
“Federal antitrust litigation is clearly a nonpartisan sport,” says antitrust attorney David Balto , a former policy director at the Federal Trade Commission who has also been critical of the parade of health plan mergers. “As millions contemplate the meaning of the election of Donald Trump as our 45th President, some might speculate this may lead to the demise of the Justice Department’s challenges to the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers. They could not be more wrong.”