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Federal judge challenges CVS Health, Aetna merger

While integration of CVS Health and Aetna has begun, judge has ordered both parties to submit arguments by December 14.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

A federal judge has threatened to halt the merger of CVS Health and Aetna as he considers the deal's antitrust implications.

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on Monday ordered both parties to submit their arguments by Friday, December 14 and scheduled another hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 18, according to CNBC.

WHY THIS MATTERS

CVS Health and Aetna closed the $69 billion merger on November 28 and have begun integrating.

The Department of Justice has already approved the deal, pending Aetna divesting its Medicare Part D plans. Aetna was expected to to divest its plans to WellCare within days of the closing.

While a federal judge cannot technically block the entire merger, the deal must be cleared by a federal judge. This is usually a procedural step. It's unusual for a federal judge to oppose a merger after the DOJ has approved it.

The American Medical Association has objected to the merger, Leon said.

If Leon finds the agreement with the DOJ doesn't sufficiently address anticompetitive concerns, CVS Health and Aetna can renegotiate with the DOJ or appeal the decision, according to the report.

THE TREND

Leon has also raised concerns in another high profile merger, that of AT&T and Time Warner.

The judge has suggested that the DOJ should have raised more questions over the CVS and Aetna merger, while rejecting the Justice Department's challenge of the AT&T and Time Warner merger, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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