AHA wants review of blockbuster PA health plan merger

The planned merger between Pennsylvania health plans Highmark and Independence Blue Cross has dragged out a while now, partly because of the size of the deal. The new entity would be a giant, with $22 billion in operating revenue, making it one of the country's largest health plans. While the boards of both plans announced the merger more than a year ago, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department hasn't approved the deal and, in fact, won't even begin hearings on the deal until this summer. In the meantime, those who oppose the merger as concentrating too much bargaining power in one entity have had time to get in gear.

Now, the American Hospital Association has joined the list of challengers questioning the merger. The AHA has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking the agency to investigate--and maybe even block--the deal between the two large health plans. The department and the FTC, both of which have the right to intercede in mergers, didn't object when the deal initially was announced. However, the two plans must refile some deal-related document since the deal hasn't closed. This gives the department's Antitrust Division another chance to review the deal. The AHA would like the department to look into possible provider rate increases and fewer health plan choices in the state.

To learn more about the merger's progress:
- read this Modern Healthcare article (reg. req.)

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