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Aetna leaves America's Health Insurance Plans, follows UnitedHealth in exiting largest trade group

Major insurer says it has enough clout to handle lobbying on its own.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Aetna headquartersAetna headquarters

Aetna will leave America's Health Insurance Plans, becoming the second major insurer to leave the industry's largest trade group, according to a statement from the insurer.

"Aetna has decided not to renew our AHIP membership for 2016," Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said. "We will continue to partner with groups that are working, as we are, toward expanding access to high-quality, affordable health care."

[Also: Aetna and Humana shareholders approve $37 billion merger]

The move comes months after the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, left AHIP and represents another setback to the membership group's lobbying power in Washington, D.C.

Aetna has said it has its own lobbying presence, which will be key as it faces antitrust scrutiny in 2016 over its proposed $38.5 billion merger with Humana.

"AHIP's successful advocacy record speaks for itself," AHIP President and Chief Executive Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. "Our members depend on AHIP to advance their key priorities, to strengthen the public-private programs that provide coverage for millions of Americans, and to deliver solutions that improve access to high quality, affordable care for consumers."

AHIP members include 200 of the leading health plan and insurance companies. 

Twitter: @SusanJMorse