5 states seek to join hearing to determine fate of CVS-Aetna merger

CVS Pharmacy

A collection of five state attorneys general are making a last-ditch effort to convince a federal judge to allow them to speak at a key hearing on a nearly $70 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna.

The Department of Justice alongside the companies will try to convince federal Judge Richard Leon at a July 17 hearing to approve the merger. A group of five states—California, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi and Washington—who support the merger wrote (PDF) to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday reiterating an earlier request to address the court for 10 minutes during oral arguments.

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The five states joined the DOJ in investigating the proposed merger of the pharmacy chain and insurance giant. While DOJ and the states initially found the merger to be anti-competitive, they reached a deal with the companies to support it. In exchange, Aetna had to sell off its business in Medicare Part D to WellCare.

However, Leon said back in December that he was concerned about the rush to approve the deal. He has since asked for more information on the deal’s terms and has been conducting a Tunney Act review over the past several months.

The DOJ, CVS and Aetna have maintained that the deal is not anticompetitive as Leon completes his review. The judge allowed CVS and Aetna to begin integrating their businesses as he continues his probe.

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The states originally asked Leon back in May to speak during the July 17 hearing. The latest court filing renews that request and reaffirms the support of the attorneys general for the revised merger.

The states say in their latest filing that the new agreement and proposed divestiture provides “an effective and appropriate remedy for the antitrust violations alleged in the complaint.”

Oral arguments held last month allowed Leon to hear from opponents of the merger, including the American Medical Association.