Merger Denied

WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit on Friday blocked health insurer Anthem Inc.’s  bid to merge with Cigna, upholding a lower court’s finding that the $54 billion hookup would stymie competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.

The D.C. Circuit  upheld an injunction against the merger on Friday afternoon.

In July, the department’s antitrust division filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to block Anthem’s acquisition of Cigna. The proposed merger was the largest of its kind in the healthcare industry but feds argued that it would do little to help consumers and ultimately skirt antitrust protections.

U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Berman Jackson reviewed the government’s case for seven weeks, officially blocking the merger on February 8.

Anthem appealed a week after the ruling and requested an expedited review process. Oral arguments ended in late March.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder on Friday said the judge believed the “merger was likely to substantially lessen competition in the market for the sale of health insurance to national counts based in 14 states, and in the sale of health insurance to large employers in Richmond, Virginia.”

“We are pleased with the appellate court’s decision. It upholds an injunction against the merger of two of the country’s largest health insurers, which not only would have led to higher prices but also slowed innovation and harmed consumers by weakening value-based offerings aimed at lowering medical costs,” AG Snyder said.

Commending the work of the antitrust division’s trial team, Snyder said Judge Berman Jackson’s decision shows a “vigorous” commitment to protecting competition and enforcing antitrust laws.

Representatives from Anthem and Cigna did not immediately return a request for comment.

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