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VOL. 41 | NO. 18 | Friday, May 05, 2017

Anthem asks Supreme Court to review blocked Cigna deal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Health insurer Anthem is not ready to give up its $48-billlion bid for rival Cigna and now hopes to find a favorable audience in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer is asking the court to review last week's rejection by a federal appeals court.

That court upheld a federal judge's ruling that said the deal would further reduce competition in an already concentrated insurance market. The ruling was made earlier this year after regulators sued last summer to block the deal.

Even Cigna Corp. wants this deal to go away. The insurer has sued Anthem and is seeking billions of dollars in damages.

But Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. said Friday that it hopes "1960s-era merger precedents" that the courts relied upon for their decision can be updated to reflect "the modern understanding of economics and consumer benefit."

Anthem announced its Cigna bid in 2015. It has touted the deal as a way to help the companies negotiate better prices with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctor groups. The company also has said the acquisition would help cut expenses and add more customers, which allows insurers to spread out the cost of investing in technology to manage and improve care.

But critics that include doctor and consumer groups aren't comfortable with giving an insurer the power and leverage that would come from a huge acquisition. They have argued that this combination will lead to fewer choices for insurance shoppers.

Industry experts have suggested any consumer impact from the deal would take years to materialize and could lead to savings in some areas but higher costs elsewhere.

Earlier this year, a federal judge blocked another big insurance deal, Aetna Inc.'s roughly $34 billion acquisition of Medicare Advantage coverage provider Humana Inc. Aetna then said it was abandoning its deal.

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