- The contested merger between Anthem and Cigna can expect a court ruling by the end of January 2017, the judge presiding over the case said Friday.
- That timeframe goes beyond Anthem's requested date of December 30 for a decision.
- The trial is scheduled to begin November 21 and conclude by December 30, leaving Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who recently took over the case, with only about a month to consider it.
The trial's timing is critical because if Anthem can't complete its acquisition of Cigna by the April 30 deadline of their original agreement, Cigna is likely to pull out of the deal rather than extend the deadline due to their contentious relationship, The New York Times quoted an Anthem lawyer. The company expects to need several months to get its final reviews from involved state insurance commissioners.
The DOJ is challenging the merger over concerns the reduced competition will result in not only reduced choice but also reduced innovation, and higher prices for consumers. Anthem has laid out its leverage in arguing it will only be in a position to expand its participation in the struggling ACA marketplace if the merger is approved.
The schedule also notably puts Anthem and Cigna's trial conclusion a hair behind that of the Aetna/Humana merger trial. The pending merger has previously been estimated to have a better chance of approval, though some analysts doubt one deal is likely to be approved and not the other, Business Insurance reported last month. The Aetna-Humana merger trial received scheduling priority because of its earlier December 31 contract deadline. That trial will begin December 5 and end on December 21.