- The U.S. Department of Justice has responded to misconduct allegations from Aetna and Humana with accusations of its own, arguing the insurers are attempting to derail its challenge of their pending $37 billion merger with an antitrust trial officially set for Dec. 5.
- Lawyers for Aetna had requested sanctions against the DOJ last week saying it had engaged in “serious delay and misconduct” in failing to provide access to requested documents critical to the pair's defense.
- In their request, Aetna and Humana asked that the DOJ be precluded from calling upon CMS employees or introducing certain CMS documents into evidence.
The DOJ did not mince words in calling the insurers' request for sanctions “a transparent attempt to derail the United States’ merger challenge" and called their argument for sanctions "broad, unwarranted, and potentially preclusive of the public interests."
At issue are documents the insurers argue are key in the two sides' debate over how to define the Medicare Advantage market, which will determine much about the antitrust arguments against their merger.
The DOJ, in response, said it has attempted to accommodate the “extremely burdensome discovery demand” from Aetna and Humana during the very accelerated discovery process.
Another aspect of the matter is the involvement of UnitedHealthcare, which is among the five largest health insurance companies in the U.S. and so is Aetna, Humana, Anthem, Cigna. The two latter are also dealing with an antitrust lawsuit from the DOJ for their proposed $54 billion merger.
UnitedHealthcare was required to submit confidential data and documents to the DOJ for its research into the market and is now in the position of attempting to prevent rivals Aetna and Humana from gaining access to its proprietary information including plans, product, and pricing strategies.