Although powerful provider groups have voiced their opposition to the two major health insurer mergers, one physician leader says he believes that the combination of Anthem and Cigna will help providers and insurers work together to increase care quality and lower costs.
In a post for The Hill's Congress Blog, John E. Bertini, M.D., notes that he has long worked with Cigna in his role as the chairman of the board of the Renaissance Physician Organization (RPO), a Texas-based physician group. Cigna has helped RPO develop new value-based care models and focus on patient-centered care by supporting it with data analysis, he writes.
Nationwide, Cigna is furthering the transition to pay-for-performance through the work of its subsidiary HealthSpring and its Cigna Collaborative Care Initiative, Bertini says, arguing that its merger with Anthem "will allow the combined insurer to roll out the collaborative model pioneered by Cigna to a much larger and more diverse base of patients and providers."
An Anthem-Cigna combined company will also boast more tools to keep patients healthier and more efficient operations, both of which will make providers' jobs easier, he adds.
Leaders from Anthem and Cigna have made similar arguments, adding that their deal will not harm competition because of the complementary nature of their respective businesses. But groups such as the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and some consumer advocates are not convinced that the deal's merits will outweigh the potential drawbacks.
In his post, Bertini acknowledges his colleagues' concerns but says that based on his experience, patients and providers alike will "stand to lose" if the merger does not win approval from regulators.
Like the Aetna-Humana deal, the Anthem-Cigna merger is awaiting approval from the Department of Justice as well as from state regulators that have not yet weighed in on the mergers.
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