Senators again push Aetna's Mark Bertolini for answers on exchange exits


A group of senators led by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is not done questioning Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini on the insurer’s withdrawal from 11 state exchanges.

Warren (D-Mass.) and a coalition of liberal Senate colleagues say Bertolini “failed to answer any of our actual questions” regarding Aetna’s exchange pullback, according to a letter penned by Warren and signed by Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Edward Markey, Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

Bertolini had responded to the senators' original request for answers about its exchange exits, saying their accusation that Aetna used its ACA participation as leverage to pressure the Justice Department into approving the controversial Humana acquisition  was “unfounded.”

He also attributed Aetna's reduced ACA participation to financial losses that “would result in an unacceptable risk to the company as a whole,” according to his letter to the senators, which Warren posted after responding.

Warren’s most recent letter reiterates 12 questions Aetna had originally been asked to answer, marking “no response” next to each question. She wrote that she is disappointed Bertolini did not respond “in a meaningful way” to questions over the $1 billion merger break-up fee, or why Aetna is now withdrawing from states in which it once claimed its plans had a “very good cost structure."

Warren and her cosignatories requested the health insurance industry’s highest-paid CEO answer questions surrounding the merger and the ACA by the end of September.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), however, disagreed with the Warren-led coalition, saying Aetna has been clear that it may re-enter those exchanges it are exiting if market conditions improve, according to The Connecticut Mirror.

Murphy doesn’t believe the Hartford, Connecticut-based insurer’s ACA participation change was a call made in bad faith.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) added that he hopes Aetna responds to the senators’ concerns to “avoid even the appearance that it is seeking to influence well-merited legal action by the Justice Department,” according to The Mirror.