Aetna judge hands off Anthem merger case to speed trials .pdf
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Aetna judge hands off Anthem merger case to
August 7, 2016
KEYWORDS INSURERS / INSURANCE / ANTHEM / HEALTH CARE & LIFE SCIENCES / HEALTH CARE &
The judge overseeing two U.S. cases challenging mergers among four of the biggest health insurers gave
up one case, improving the odds for rulings on both tie-ups by the end of the year and reducing the
chance they fall apart beforehand.
U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., said Friday he would keep the case against Aetna
Inc.’s deal for Humana Inc., leaving the challenge to Anthem Inc.’s takeover of Cigna Corp. to another
judge. Bates kept the Aetna case because it’s on a tighter deadline with its merger agreement expiring at
the end of the year.
“Given the complexity and importance of these cases, the court cannot feasibly try and decide both in that
time frame,” the judge wrote in a ruling. “Ultimately, it will be fairer to the parties and better for the public if
one of the cases is randomly reassigned to another judge in this district, who can give it prompt and full
attention while this judge does the same with the other.”
Aetna, Cigna and the Justice Department declined to comment. Humana and Anthem didn’t respond to
requests seeking comment.
Both companies told Bates in a hearing Thursday they need rulings by the end of the year because of the
timelines outlined in their merger agreements. Anthem has the right to extend the Cigna agreement until
April 30. The Justice Department suggested that both cases be ready for trial in February.
The Anthem case was assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed to the bench by
President Barack Obama. She set a scheduling conference for Aug. 12 and asked for lawyers’ schedules
in December and January, indicating she may hold the trial then.
Bates’s decision to keep the Aetna lawsuit is a positive development for Aetna because the case can
proceed on the insurer’s timetable, Wells Fargo & Co. analyst Peter Costa said in a research note.
For Anthem and Cigna, “this may represent a setback, in our view, with a Democrat-appointed judge
reviewing case, but it could also mean a faster timeline than allowed if Judge Bates kept both cases,”
Bates, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, didn’t set a trial date in his decision
Friday. He said he wouldn’t adopt the companies’ scheduling proposals but “is inclined to accommodate
their contractual deadlines to the extent reasonable.” He said a court-appointed official known as a
special master should handle disputes about the exchange of evidence.