AMA sounds alarm about “political influence” in Anthem-Cigna deal

Monday, March 20, 2017 12:20 PM
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The American Medical Association expressed alarm over an implied deal that would allow Anthem’s purchase of Cigna under newly appointed Justice Department officials from the administration of President Donald Trump.

In a Feb. 28 letter to Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Brent Snyder, the AMA said it was alarmed by “recent statements by Anthem, made in the Delaware Court of Chancery, asserting that the company expects to close its merger transaction with CIGNA through ‘resolution with a new DOJ.’” (Emphasis added)

“An Anthem attorney stated in open court that the company believes its prospects for a timely closing are enhanced by a ‘supportive’ Vice President Mike Pence,” wrote AMA CEO James Madara, MD, to the U.S. Justice Department. Pence is the former Indiana governor and Anthem is headquartered in Indianapolis. “There have also been press reports of settlement negotiations.”

Anthem is appealing the February U.S. District Court ruling that blocked its merger with Cigna on grounds that it would violate federal antitrust laws by stifling competition and harming consumers by increasing health insurance prices and hindering innovation that could lower health care costs. The AMA, Colorado Medical Society and other members of the Block the Mergers Coalition opposed the Anthem-Cigna deal and assisted the Justice Department in its successful case to block the deal.

“We find it implausible that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), eleven states and the District of Columbia—that have diligently and successfully prosecuted this antitrust merger case—could now be swayed to allow this merger to close pursuant to politically driven settlement negotiations as Anthem has suggested,” Madara wrote in the letter. “To do so would cause irreparable harm to the integrity of the federal courts to adjudicate anticompetitive behavior in a fair and impartial manner, leaving consumers at risk. We strongly believe that political influence should play no role in the enforcement of the antitrust laws and urge you to vigorously defend Judge Jackson’s ruling.”

Susan Koontz, JD, Colorado Medical Society general counsel, wrote in a March 1 letter to the office of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that CMS vigorously supports the AMA’s respectful urging that the U.S. DOJ and state plaintiffs reject any offers to settle the Anthem-Cigna litigation.

Read the letters from CMS and AMA here.

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | ASAP | Practice Evolution | Payment Reform | Interacting With Payers | Initiatives | AMA


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