On Friday, many media outlets reported that CVS Health is in talks to buy Aetna for as much as $66 billion. This merger would be a massive consolidation of the healthcare industry, merging one of the largest PBMs in the country with one of America's oldest health insurers.
Last year, Anthem attempted to merge with Cigna and Aetna attempted to merge with Humana in two gigantic deals worth tens of billions of dollars. We organized consumer groups, healthcare providers, and other interested parties against those mergers, pointing out that it would lead to higher premiums and overall healthcare costs, less consumer choice, and reduced quality of care. The Department of Justice sued to block the mergers, and courts ruled that both deals were anticompetitive in a sweeping victory for all Americans.
Similar criticisms apply to this merger--it will harm consumers and lead to higher health care costs. PBMs claim they reduce drug prices, but the evidence indicates that they actually contribute to high drug prices because of perverse incentives.
Mergers like these have a dismal history. They lead to less consumer choice and more exclusionary conduct. And the promises of consumer savings from past insurance company-PBM alliances are as fanciful as a unicorn. Consumers suffer by paying more and getting less choice for the vital drugs they need. Moreover, this type of alliance would be a fertile environment for regulatory abuse.
We will conduct a careful analysis of this merger, and urge lawmakers and antitrust officials to oppose it and rule it anticompetitive.