Insurers pull out all the stops to win feds' approval of merger deals

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.

To learn more:
- read the Connecticut Mirror article
- here's the SEC filing
- check out the Louisville Business First post

Related Articles:
All eyes on how regulators will respond to massive health insurer mergers
Aetna-Humana deal followed months of negotiations among major insurers
American Hospital Association takes aim at Anthem-Cigna merger
Aetna-Humana deal will face scrutiny from state authorities

Free Webinar

Take Control of Your Escalating Claim Costs through a Comprehensive Pre-payment Hospital Bill Review Solution

Today managing high dollar claim spend is more important than ever for Health Plans, TPAs, Employers, and Reinsurers, and can pose significant financial risks. How can these costs be managed without being a constant financial drain on your company resources? Our combination of the right people and the right technology provides an approach that ensures claims are paid right, the first time. Register Now!

Suggested Articles

Learn how health plans can demonstrate agility with analytics to shape benefit plans in a time of healthcare transformation.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced the government will distribute 30,000 doses of a new COVID-19 antibody cocktail on Tuesday.

Employers are increasingly integrating their health benefits as a way to achieve cost savings, according to a new report from Anthem.