Major consumer groups file amicus in Anthem merger appeal

March 17, 2017

Today, major consumer groups filed an amicus brief in Anthem's appeal of its merger with Cigna, which was blocked by the D.C. District Court last month. The amicus, organized by The CPPC, argues that the original ruling blocking the merger was correct given the overwhelming evidence that the merger would be anti-competitive. David Balto, the director of The Coalition to Protect Patient Choice, said, "The consumer brief demonstrates how Anthem wants to rewrite antitrust law to permit the court to ignore the hard facts that this merger is clearly anticompetitive and any claimed costs savings would not benefit consumers one iota. The standard of law Anthem asks for is inconsistent with the law, and sound economic and healthcare policy."

 

The CPPC organized opposition to the Anthem-Cigna merger before the DOJ and 13 state Attorneys General. We also led opposition to the merger of Aetna and Humana, which would have affected older Americans who purchase Medicare Advantage. Both mergers were enjoined by the cases' respective judges earlier this year. Given the forcefulness of language in both rulings, coupled with a tendency for appeals courts to rule consistently with lower courts, it is not expected that Anthem will successfully appeal the ruling by District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. 

 

David Balto believes the new DOJ under President Trump is unlikely to see the competitive effects of the proposed merger any differently than the previous administration. "In the healthcare reform debate, the Administration's first principle is that competition and choice lead to lower costs. Thats a bedrock principle that makes it crystal clear the merger should be enjoined."

 

The three judges presiding at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals are Judges Rogers, Kavanaugh, and Millett. The brief, organized by the Coalition to Protect Patient Choice and filed by the Law Offices of David Balto, was signed by American Antitrust Institute, Consumers Union, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, United States Public Interest Research Group, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, Sergeants Benevolent Association, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, and California Reinvestment Coalition. 

 

 

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