Drug Rehab wins after CVS purchase of Aetna gets final approval

CVS Health’s nearly $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna was given final approval by a Federal judge after a condition set by the Justice Department was achieved. The merger was allowed on condition Aetna sell its Medicare prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans,  Both deals have already closed.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon had questioned whether the settlement did enough to protect competition and consumers in health-care markets.

CVS Health’s nearly US$70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna was given final approval by a Federal judge after a condition set by the Justice Department was achieved.

The merger was allowed on condition Aetna sell its Medicare prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans and both deals have already closed.

US District Judge Richard Leon had questioned whether the settlement did enough to protect competition and consumers in health-care markets.

Judge Leon said on Wednesday, September 4, that the health care markets at issue in the case “are not only very competitive today, but are likely to remain so post-merger.”  The settlement “is well within the reaches of the public interest,” the judge concluded, according to Dow Jones.

CVS said the judge’s decision reinforced that CVS and Aetna have already merged.

“CVS Health and Aetna have been one company since November 2018, and today’s action by the District Court makes that 100 percent clear. We remain focused on transforming the consumer health care experience in America,” CVS spokesman T.J. Crawford said in an emailed statement.

Critics of the CVS-Aetna deal included the American Medical Association and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Another critic, U.S. PIRG, expressed skepticism that savings from the merger would end up in consumers’ pockets.

“Again and again, CVS Caremark has used its market power to both increase the cost of medications for consumers and rip off the government, instead of passing on savings its promised to consumers,” PIRG said in a statement.

Pending Leon’s approval, CVS agreed to temporarily allow Aetna to independently make critical product, pricing and personnel decisions.

CVS has been in the process of converting itself into a healthcare company and said in June that it would offer expanded health services such as nutrition counseling and blood pressure screenings in 1,500 stores by the end of 2021.

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