Cigna, Aetna hire lobbying firms to help with merger deals; Humana and King's Daughters' Health form ACO;

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> Former Iowa Republican Rep. Renee Schulte is being criticized for her role in selecting companies to manage the state's Medicaid program, reports the Associated Press. In its request for reconsideration, insurer Aetna contends that Schulte's work as a consultant for WellCare is an "organizational conflict of interest." And Centene alleges that in a meeting with its lobbyists, she said a key official in the selection process had made "derogatory comments" about the company. Article

> Amid the recent merger between Cigna and Anthem, the former has hired two lobbying firms--WilmerHale and Polaris Government Relations--to focus on anti-trust issues, reports The Hill. Meanwhile, after its announcement that it plans to acquire Humana, Aetna hired four lobbying firms to help manage the new deal. Article

> Humana and Indiana-based King's Daughters' Health have agreed to a new accountable care organization contract that will focus on delivering and enhancing care for Humana's Medicare Advantage members. Announcement

Health Finance News

> Healthcare cost increases have been historically low in recent years, but the publication State of Reform believes that they will soon return to double-digit rates of growth. Article

> A Southern California physician has prevailed in a lawsuit against a hospital chain he said retaliated against him for objecting to its acquisition of an Orange County hospital. Article

And finally… Note: When proposing, don't drop the ring into the ocean. Article