Though they still must wait months to learn if their merger deals will receive the Department of Justice's blessing, some of the country's largest health insurers have been working hard to plead their case among federal regulators.
Aetna, which announced in early July that it plans to acquire Humana, now has hired four major lobbying firms to aid its effort to get the deal approved, the Connecticut Mirror reports. And Cigna, which is set to be acquired by larger insurer Anthem, recently hired three firms of its own.
Hiring lobbyists "is routine for a complex process of this nature," Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener wrote in an email to FierceHealthPayer.
Included in Aetna's new K Street muscle is Seth Bloom, a former general counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Joseph Gibson, a former attorney with the House Judiciary Committee. Both committees are likely to be involved in review of the mergers, and Bloom and Gibson also have connections with Republican lawmakers, according to the Mirror.
One of Cigna's lobbyists, Heather Podesta, also boasts political connections, as she is a major fundraiser for the Democratic Party.
Neither Anthem nor Humana has hired any new lobbying firms, though the article notes they both have "long-term relationships with Washington lobbyists."
Meanwhile, the merging insurers have been busy submitting filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). One such filing detailed the lengthy background of the Aetna and Humana deal, including how their merger talks were influenced by other insurers' overtures.
Perhaps in an effort to leave no stone unturned, the two companies have even included in their SEC filings records of their official tweets about the deals. Though such a move may seem odd, it does have precedent: Charter Communications included tweets and other marketing materials in SEC filings regarding its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable, according to Louisville Business First.
Though the current leaders of all the merging insurers have expressed confidence that their deals will win federal approval, industry groups such as the American Hospital Association have been critical of the mergers, urging federal regulators to be highly skeptical of further consolidation among health insurers.
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