With merger mania hitting the healthcare industry, possibly resulting in just three giant firms, Congress is moving fast to consider if the consolidations violate antitrust laws or will raise costs to consumers.
Moving just hours after Anthem announced plans to buy Cigna for $54 billion, two key and bipartisan senators announced that they will hold an antitrust hearing soon.
Sens. Mike Lee and Amy Klobuchar, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, said the antitrust subcommittee will hold a hearing in September.
Sens. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat. AP Photo
In a statement, Lee said, "If each of the recently announced transactions is completed, the number of major health insurers in the United States would shrink to three. It is imperative that we closely examine changes in the healthcare market, and what has caused these changes, to ensure that consumers are not harmed and continue to receive quality healthcare at a competitive price."
Klobuchar emphasized that the panel will be focused on consumers.
"Anthem's proposed acquisition of Cigna and Aetna's acquisition of Humana, both individually or combined, raise important antitrust concerns. The Antitrust Subcommittee has a duty to understand whether this consolidation would increase health insurance costs and jeopardize the ability of Americans to access affordable, high-quality health coverage, as well as whether claims of consumer benefits, corporate efficiency, and lower costs are realistic."
The Examiner's Robert King had the story today on the Anthem-Cigna deal.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.