Many Obamacare supporters have been taking solace in their belief that Aetna's recent decision to pull out of all but four government-run exchanges was a result not of Obamacare's slow-motion death spiral but of Aetna's playing politics with the Department of Justice, which has blocked the insurer's intended merger with Humana. Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse, however, have written a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking whether it isn't the other way around. The two senators ask Lynch whether the DOJ was in fact playing politics with Aetna, using its leverage to pressure the insurer to participate in Obamacare.

After noting that the Obama administration has "a policy interest in facilitating insurer participation in the exchanges" and has "repeatedly taken potentially illegal steps toward that end," Sasse and Cotton write,

[I]t appears that the Department of Justice may have used its leverage in the antitrust review process to encourage participation in the failing exchanges. On June 30, the Department of Justice asked Aetna to explain how termination of the proposed merger would impact Aetna's participation on the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act individual health insurance exchanges. We are concerned that by placing a special emphasis on the [PP]ACA's exchanges, the Department of Justice may be implying that exchange participation would have a favorable bearing on Department of Justice determinations.

The senators' whole letter can be viewed here.

Jeffrey H. Anderson, author of An Alternative to Obamacare, is a Hudson Institute senior fellow.