- A federal judge set a Dec. 5 trial date Wednesday for the Justice Department suit against insurance giants Aetna and Humana over their proposed $37 billion merger, Reuters reported.
- The insurers were originally stumping for a two-week trial in October.
- Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will oversee the case. Earlier this month, he handed off the suit from DOJ over the pending Anthem/Cigna merger to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
The DOJ says both mergers will increase premiums as well as reduce innovation efforts and competition if the deals were to be finalized as the number of national insurers would fall from five to just three. On July 21, the agency filed lawsuits to block both mergers.
Splitting the case increased the likelihood that the insurance giants will be able to complete their deals by the end of this year, as noted by Bloomberg last week. Aetna and Humana's contractual deadline for the merger is December 31, 2016.
However, Judge Bates during a hearing Wednesday said the insurers had not been able to prove harm would be caused by a December trial date, Reuters reported.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini recently said the purchase will go through one way or another. "We believe we're going to get the deal done," Bertolini told reporters during a second-quarter 2016 earnings call last week. "But it would be irresponsible for us not to have a Plan B in place and to understand all the levers we could pull."
Little additional information was given as to what Plan B would look like.