Aetna adds Tom Daschle to high-powered cadre of lobbyists

As regulators continue to review its proposed merger with Humana, Aetna has added a former Senate majority leader with close ties to the president as well as other former government officials to its lobbying ranks, according to the International Business Times (IBT).

Since the company announced its $37 billion proposed merger with Humana last year, Aetna has been bolstering its ranks with five different lobbying firms that list 15 former government officials, including Seth Bloom, a former general counsel for the Senate antitrust committee, and Joseph Gibson, a former counsel for the antitrust division at the Department of Justice. In September, an Aetna spokesperson told FierceHealthPayer that hiring lobbyists "is routine for a complex process of this nature."

The recent addition of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is notable because of his close ties to President Barack Obama. Daschle left the Senate in 2005, but he was an early backer in Obama's presidential run according to IBT. Daschle was nominated as secretary of Health and Human Services, but removed his name from consideration after concerns that he failed to pay his taxes.

In his registration as a lobbyist for Aetna, Daschle does not specifically mention the merger, and a statement issued to IBT by his firm indicated that it is "not in the scope of our representation."

Federal regulators are closely scrutinizing the pending Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers, noting that the health insurance deals could be a "game changer" for the industry. Experts say the federal review of the Aetna-Humana deal will be complicated and challenging, although the deal has gained gradual approval from states.

To learn more:
- read the IBT article

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