Tags: Healthcare Reform | mitch mcconnell | aetna | humana | merger | obamacare

Mitch McConnell Blames Aetna-Humana Merger on Obamacare

By    |   Friday, 03 July 2015 11:28 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the $37 billion merger of Aetna and Humana on Friday, saying it confirmed his predictions that Obamacare would lead to such consolidation among health insurers — and eventually to fewer options for Americans.

"For more than 30 years, Humana has been a cornerstone of economic growth and a great philanthropic partner in our community," the Kentucky Republican said.

Founded in 1961, Humana is based in Louisville.

"This morning’s announcement, as I predicted during the debate five years ago, is the inevitable result of Obamacare’s push toward consolidation as doctors, hospitals, and insurers merge in response to an ever-growing government," McConnell said.

Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn said that "we are beginning to see a narrowing of the marketplace, which leads to higher costs, fewer options and less access for plan enrollees."

Aetna Inc. said that it would pay $37 billion in cash and stock for Humana Inc., the nation's second-largest provider of private healthcare plans for seniors.

The deal comes amid a merger frenzy, as the five biggest U.S. health insurers look to get bigger.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 created the increased activity through new rules that pushed insurers to look for savings, and by creating millions of new customers.

Humana’s 3.2 million Medicare Advantage members made it a target — and it is gaining new business as more Americans turn 65 and become eligible for the health program for the elderly and its private insurer-run version.

The Aetna-Humana deal is expected to face antitrust scrutiny by federal regulators, while analysts said that merger activity in the healthcare sector had been waiting for last week's Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare.

The justices ruled 6-3 to uphold key subsidies that underpin the law and thus gave more certainty to healthcare insurers.

The larger the insurer, the more power it has negotiating prices and improving its doctor networks.

"Clearly, this enormous infusion of government money into insurance companies is something that the executives and stockholders like very much, and they weren't anxious to see it go away," Texas Rep. Mike Burgess, who is a physician, told Newsmax on Friday. "They were happy when it didn't.

"The government is making vast sums of money available to them," the congressman said of insurance companies. "The government has told everybody under the sun that you have to buy this product or it's big trouble with you with the IRS."

Other big healthcare merger deals announced this week include ACE Ltd., the Swiss property and casualty giant, planning to by Chubb Corp. for $28 billion. In addition, Anthem has offered $47 billion for Cigna Corp. in a deal that would create the largest insurer in the country.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. is also said to be eyeing both Cigna and Aetna, according to news reports, and Centene Corp. said Thursday that it would buy Health Net Inc. for $6.3 billion.

"I hope that Aetna will recognize the tremendous value and expertise residing in Humana’s Kentucky workforce and will look to continue its close partnership with our experienced and educated workforce, the City of Louisville and our commonwealth," McConnell said.

Bloomberg News and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the $37 billion merger of Aetna and Humana on Friday, saying it confirmed his predictions that Obamacare would lead to such consolidation among health insurers — and eventually to fewer options for Americans.
mitch mcconnell, aetna, humana, merger, obamacare
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2015-28-03
Friday, 03 July 2015 11:28 PM
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