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American Medical Association tells DOJ not to settle Anthem-Cigna merger

Anthem asserts deal will close under new administration, AMA says.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The American Medical Association fears the influence of a Trump administration will sway the Department of Justice to allow Anthem's $54 billion purchase of Cigna.

In a letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder copied to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the AMA is urging the Department of Justice to reject any offers to settle the Anthem-Cigna litigation.

AMA CEO James Madara, MD, said he is alarmed about recent Anthem statements that it expects the merger to close through a resolution with a new DOJ.

Anthem made its assertion of a resolution in court, Synder said, in the Feb. 28 letter. Also, an Anthem attorney said in open court that the insurer believes its prospects for a timely closing are enhanced by support from Vice President Mike Pence, according to the letter.

[Also: UPDATED: Anthem wins lawsuit seeking restraining order against Cigna]

A federal court blocked the proposed $54 billion merger on Feb. 8. Anthem immediately appealed, even though Cigna tried to get out of the deal. Their merger agreement is in effect through April 30.

"Anthem is pursuing an expedited appeal of the District Court's decision and is committed to completing this value-creating merger either through a successful appeal or through settlement with the new leadership at the Department of Justice," Anthem said in a Feb. 15 statement.

Madara said the merger would have an adverse effect on competition in an already highly concentrated market, impacting healthcare access, quality and affordability.

"Without the steadfast opposition of the DOJ and state government plaintiffs, the merger of Anthem and Cigna -- presently the nation's second and third-largest health insurer carriers -- would have created the single largest seller of health insurance to large commercial accounts in a market in which there are only four national carriers remaining," Madara said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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