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Five states to speak in support of CVS\Aetna merger on Friday

The court case for the DOJ-approved merger drags on 8 months after companies closed the deal.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The merger of CVS and Aetna heads back to federal court on Friday, as Judge Richard Leon will hear oral arguments from five states in support of the consolidation.

Attorneys general from California, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Washington will get 10 minutes to speak in support of the Department of Justice's final judgment allowing CVS to buy Aetna for $69 billion.

Also being allowed to speak for 15 minutes are the government, CVS Health, the American Medical Association, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Consumer Action and U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group).

IMPACT

The court review, usually a procedural matter, has dragged on since the two companies closed their deal in November.

Judge Richard Leon is exercising his right under the Tunney Act to review the case on antitrust concerns. Technically, Leon cannot derail the deal, but only question the DOJ's settlement agreement allowing CVS and Aetna to merge.

In that agreement, the DOJ required the companies to divest of Aetna's Part D plans, which Aetna has done, selling the business to WellCare.

Leon and the American Medical Association have claimed that WellCare is too small to take on the 2.2 million former Aetna customers and cannot meaningfully compete with CVS's PBM, Caremark, according to Hartford Business.

THE LARGER TREND

Last month, Leon heard testimony from the AMA and others but blocked competing testimony from the DOJ saying their view was already represented by CVS.

There is no indication of when he will rule in the case.

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