DOJ Grants Conditional Approval to CVS-Aetna Merger

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today granted conditional approval to the $69 billion merger between CVS Health Corporation and Aetna Inc, as long as Aetna sells its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan business.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today granted conditional approval to the $69 billion merger between CVS Health Corporation and Aetna Inc, as long as Aetna sells its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan business, according to a DOJ press release.

The merger, which combines the largest US retail pharmacy chain and the third largest health insurer, represents a paradigm shift toward major consolidation in the industry that could impact patient access and cost of care. With DOJ clearance, the deal remains on track to close in the early part of Q4 2018.2

To alleviate regulator concerns, Aetna last month agreed to sell its private Medicare drug plans. According to the DOJ, the proposed divestiture to WellCare Health Plans Inc, an experienced health insurer focused on government-sponsored health plans, including Medicare Part D individual prescription drug plans, would preserve competition in the marketplace. Under the proposed settlement, Aetna must also assist WellCare in operating the business during the transition and in transferring the affected customers.

“Today’s settlement resolves competition concerns posed by this transaction and preserves competition in the sale of Medicare Part D prescription drug plans for individuals,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement. “The divestitures required here allow for the creation of an integrated pharmacy and health benefits company that has the potential to generate benefits by improving the quality and lowering the costs of the health care services that American consumers can obtain.”

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